If you don’t become a little misty eyed at any point in this movie, I would suggest getting a medical examination because your heart is probably made of cold, hard steel. I teared up at least three times, and had trouble recounting certain scenes with my movie partner on the way home.
I had heard it was supposed to be an epic puller of heart-strings, but I honestly hadn’t anticipated how heavy it was. Do you remember the beginning of Finding Nemo, when Nemo’s mom gets eaten? I was admittedly distraught. When the Sad Thing in the first ten minutes of Up happens, I was ready to go home and take two bottles of sleeping pills. Holy smokes. It’s not a surprising turn of events, but the execution is excruciatingly beautiful.
The plot opens on Carl Fredrickson, a curmudgeonly old man that’s holding out on selling his property to a big corporation. It is the house he and his wife Ellie met in, the house they bought, the house in which they grew old together. When an accident leads the court to rule that ancient Mr. Fredrickson is a menace to society, he is ordered to vacate his home and it seems the corporation has won. Instead, he unfurls a cloud of helium balloons and he and his house float away. His destination? Paradise Falls, South America — a site of exploration that he and Ellie had dreamed about since they were children.
All seems peaceful and right with the world until, several thousand feet up in the sky, there is a knock on the door. Russell, a boyscout desperate for his final badge for “helping the elderly” had been under the porch, dutifully searching on the Snipe Hunt that Carl put him on the day before, when the house lifted off. After some in-the-air drama, Carl and Russell find themselves near Paradise Falls, stuck with one another. The mission — which was to fulfill Carl’s promise to Ellie of taking her to Paradise Falls — is to now set the floating house by the waterfall. The two unlikely companions set off to guide the bobbing structure across the ravine, encountering a mysterious bird, an outcast talking dog, and some dangerous characters that want to make sure that Carl, Russell and their new friends don’t make it out of the valley alive.
Pixar’s storytelling is always good — Finding Nemo and A Bug’s Life are on my top ten list — and Up is no exception. The formula is less obvious than most movies, which was refreshing. I will say my mind had an issue with the logitics of a house floating on a bunch of helium balloons, but I went with it. I also didn’t really like the convenience of them accidentally finding themselves in Paradise Falls. BUT. I went with it.
Pixar’s animation is always flawless. It almost isn’t worth mentioning because it is always so damn good. Carl and Russell’s character designs were both works of art. These humans were highly stylized, almost muppet-like, and I loved them so much for it. The expressions were subtle, beautiful, perfect.
And someone give Jordan Nagai and Ed Asner some kind of gold statue. Best. Voices. EVER.
There were a lot of lessons to be learned from Up. Don’t wait too long to fulfill your dreams. Love the people you’re with while they’re here, because they won’t always be around. The little things really do count. It’s just a house.
I can’t say it hard enough: see this movie. And bring a hankey.