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“UP UP And Away In A Slew Of Beautiful Balloons”

A tour de force from Pixar, “Up” melds parables, homage and strong narrative with masterful computer-generated visuals to fashion a heart-tugging but adventurous tale for all ages.

 

Carl Fredrickson (voiced by Ed Asner) loses his wife after a lifetime of love. He retreats from the world into their home with only memories to keep him company.  The threat of losing that house though becomes the final straw and he jury-rigs the house to fly away, led by many, many balloons. He plans on fulfilling his dear late wife’s destiny to travel to South America to a tropical paradise. He just didn’t expect to have to babysit a stowaway, a young hyperactive Eagle Scout named Russell.

 

Co-Directors Peter Docter (“Monsters Inc”) and Bob Peterson handle many sentimental issues along with weighty matters like compulsion, but gets neither over-syrupy nor too heavy and dreary.  Humor takes center stage in Peterson’s script, as exasperated Carl is forced to bring tagalongs.  Just as Dorothy was joined by her three buddies on the journey to Oz, Carl becomes handcuffed to Russell, a squawking bird named Kevin and an electronically enhanced dog that can speak named Dug. Carl’s OZ is the waterfall where his wife dreamed of living above and he plans to drag his slowly deflating house towards that location. But an army of dogs led by a crazed explorer (voiced by Christopher Plummer) stand in the way. 

For being a children’s film, the story deals with dark issues, like blind obsession.  Both Carl and the Explorer travel to the ends of the earth to execute their dream, no matter what the risks; for the Explorer that includes murder.

 

The visuals include breathtaking aerial views and visions of a South American utopia.  The details, including dirt under Carl’s fingernails, are exacting.

 

The cast of actors bring heart to the film. Asner feeds on his Lou Grant persona, gruff but compassionate. Plummer, as a cross between Baron Munchausen and a James Bond villain, voices his role with malevolence but loony folly. Young Jordan Nagai is sweet without being cloying as the little boy.  Delroy Lindo gets most laughs as a ferocious talking Doberman whose voice box has malfunctioned.

 

A winner from Disney, UP has the juice to fly high throughout the early summer. Grade A.

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