You almost tire of saying it but Pixar have created another masterpiece with Up. As uplifting as it is heartbreaking, Pete Docter and Bob Peterson’s film is a magical adventure that takes an odd couple relationship and turns it into one of the most rewarding movies of the year.
The film follows the fortunes of 78-year-old curmudgeon Carl Fredericksen (voiced by Ed Asner) and eight-year-old Junior Wilderness Explorer Russell (Jordan Nagai) as they embark on the adventure of a lifetime in South America. We’re first introduced to Carl as a wide-eyed child captivated by the exploits of maverick explorer Charles Muntz, an adoration mirrored by fellow would-be adventurer Ellie, with whom Carl becomes smitten and pledges to take travelling.
Marriage ensues, whereby viewers are whisked off on one of the most exquisite montages in recent history, as Carl and Ellie’s life unfolds through triumph and tragedy right up until Ellie’s death. The montage is a defining moment in underlining Pixar’s persistent brilliance in animation. In less than five minutes it contains more emotion than most real-time movies and is virtually guaranteed to reduce you to tears as the trials of life overtake Carl and Ellie’s dreams.
Thereafter, Carl vows to honour Ellie’s memory and, faced with eviction, heads off to South America by tying thousands of balloons to his house … with hapless Russell in tow.
Their adventure takes in over-sized birds, talking attack dogs and a meeting with childhood hero Muntz, as well as much bonding between grumpy old man and plucky scout. While it unfolds on a grand scale, Up, at its heart, is a human story that resonates with viewers of every age. Children will warm to the Looney Tunes-esque mayhem of the action, while adults will resonate with its themes of lost love, lapsed ambition and life’s struggle. It’s this ability to marry sadness with triumph that consistently sets Pixar ahead of the rest, as well as the arresting beauty of its 3D visuals. It’s an experience to savour.
(U) 96mins. General release from Fri 7 Oct.