“Up” lifts the spirit

0 Submitted by on Fri, 29 May 2009, 13:51

By Sandra Kraisirideja

You’re never to old to seek out adventure; that’s the message in “Up,” the latest animated feature from Pixar.

“Up” has all the ingredients that audiences have come to be expect from Pixar’s movies: an uplifting story about friendship, loyalty, family and bravery mixed in with humorous dialogue and hilarious sight gags. It’s got a 3-D version too, which will be released alongside the standard version.

“Up” was directed by Pete Doctor and Bob Peterson, who also wrote the script. Doctor directed “Monster’s Inc.” and created the story for “Wall-E” while Peterson’s past Pixar experience includes writing “Finding Nemo.”

In their previous works, both Doctor and Peterson proved they could breathe life into non-human characters. Their talents thankfully extend to human characters, who have three-dimensional personalities despite their two-dimensional appearance.

The main characters in “Up” are a grumpy old man named Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) and a overachieving youngster named Russell (Jordan Nagai). The two join forces after Carl embarks on a lifelong dream to visit Paradise Falls in South America rather than be taken to an assisted living facility.

Carl was supposed to take the with his wife, but she passes away before the two can make the journey together. Instead Carl is stuck with Russell, who is determined to earn his “Assisting the Elderly” badge and then graduate to the next level in the Wilderness Explorers program.

The strength of “Up’s” script lies in what is not said. To establish the history of Carl’s marriage an extended montage sequence in the early part of the movie shows the progression of their relationship. Their life together is condensed down to a series of highlights that speaks volumes about their relationship. From that point the real story begins.

In Pixar’s films, the personalities of the main characters can be established quickly just by the way they are drawn and how they react. Carl’s face is a bit square and a little squashed down. His body is stout and he walks with a cane supported by four tennis balls. His gray hair and bushy eyebrows are the hallmarks of a man closing in on 70.

In contrast, Russell is more like a egg, with an oval face, small eyes and mouth. Nagai provides just the right voice for the character.

Along the way Carl and Russell befriend a talking dog named Dug and an exotic bird that Russell names Kevin, even after he finds out Kevin is actually a girl. Dug, who is actually voiced by Peterson, projects the attitude that all dog lovers believe their dog possesses. He is a little goofy, but loyal to a fault and reliable when it really counts. It’s certain more than a few kids will beg for a dog of their own before the movie ends.

“Up” is sure to be another hit for Pixar and continues the company’s long tradition of stories that speak to the universal emotions that connect us all.

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