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Rental Review: Up

February 27, 2010

By Chad Larson

Every year I anxiously await whatever new film Pixar is coming out. Pixar movies are magical in that kids and adults can enjoy them equally, and that’s not to mention that visually they are amazing to look at.

“Up” was their 2009 attempt, and it’s the story of Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner), a young boy who becomes enamored with flying ace Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer). Carl is somewhat of a meek child despite his need for adventure, but when he meets Ellie (Ellie Docter) she opens him up to a world of adventure. They marry and grow old together with Carl making his living selling balloons from a cart, happy all along (through a GREAT montage sequence, one of the best I’ve seen in any movie much less a “kids movie”). Ellie passes away, leaving Carl all alone in their house, which is surrounded by construction.

Carl is visited by Russell, a boy scout who is trying to earn his last merit badge, for assisting the elderly. Carl turns him away, gruffly – sending him on a “snipe hunt.”

The construction crews continue to try to entice Carl to sell the land and move away. One day, they accidentally back in to the mailbox he and Ellie had lovingly painted when they first married, damaging it. Carl bashes the construction crew manager in the head with his cane. After that he’s deemed unfit to live on his own and is told people from the “retirement village” will pick him up tomorrow.

When the people from the village come to pick him up, Carl has a surprise for them – millions of helium balloons lift up from the house, tearing it from its foundations and sending it skyward! Russell has inadvertently ended up on the front porch, so the two of them sail off on a grand adventure to fulfill one of Ellie’s dreams.

I have always felt that any truly great film grabs you on an emotional level. Up definitely does this. I laughed heartily quite a few times during the movie. I felt choked up when Ellie died, right at the beginning of the movie. The ending gave me a similar emotion. Most of Pixar’s movies are like this, but if you have elderly grandparents this movie WILL make you choke up, unless you are a heartless monster.

Pixar really knocked it out of the park visually with this movie, and if you have a Blu-ray player and a HDTV you will greatly benefit from watching it in high-definition. The backdrops are so realistic that they might as well be real, and despite being cartoony the characters are rendered well. The detail is there, and after days on the go, Carl even begins to show some 5 o’clock shadow.

I loved “Up,” and I would recommend it to anyone. It’s a great addition to Pixar’s catalog of fantastic and beautiful movies.

“Up” will be followed “up” later this year by “Toy Story 3.”

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