Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 09 June 2009
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock - http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
Childhood pals Carl and Ellie share a mutual interest in global adventure, as brought to them by newsreels featuring noted explorer Charles F. Muntz (Christopher Plummer, voice). The dirigible-based thrill-seeker shares his airship Childhood pals Carl and Ellie share a mutual interest in global adventure, as brought to them by newsreels featuring noted explorer Charles F. Muntz (Christopher Plummer, voice). The dirigible-based thrill-seeker shares his airship with an abundance of dogs and travels the world in search of oddities.
A sweet montage of the children maturing, marrying, and spending their lives together is an unexpected emotional journey. Their lifelong dream to visit Paradise Falls is put on hold indefinitely by financial obligations. They are unable to have children. Ellie passes away before the adventure takes place, entrusting its quest to Carl.
Carl Fredericksen (Ed Asner, voice) is left as a lonely curmudgeon in a house surrounded by a huge construction site. Shady Oaks retirement home beckons, but on the morning that Carl’s supposed to go with the two nice men in white coats, he makes his entire house airborne with the aid of thousands of helium-filled balloons and rigged curtain sails. He discovers eight-year-old Wilderness Explorer, Russell (Jordan Ngai, voice) on his back porch and grudgingly allows the boy to enter. Russell needs his “assisting the elderly” badge and has been offering his services to Carl. How was he to know that the house would take flight with him aboard?
Russell has a disinterested, absentee father, but finds Carl fascinating; Carl finds Russell to be a noisy, rambunctious distraction, sending the boy on a fictional “snipe hunt” on the previous day to get rid of him. Now he, like Carl, is on an adventure which will lead the two on an unprecedented journey of discovery.
The two float through the atmosphere, into and out of a frightening storm, until they find themselves across a steep ravine facing Paradise Falls. A tethered Carl and Russell walk the house (helium is leaving the balloons) through a forest, meeting up with a large, colorful bird that Russell names Kevin, and an excited dog named Dug (Bob Peterson, voice).
Kevin is a colorful giant, with a toucan’s coloring and a dodo’s bird brain. Capable of fast movements and stealthy tracking, Kevin takes a quick liking to Russell, reserving judgment for the curmudgeonly Carl.
Dug wears a translating collar that audibly broadcasts his thoughts, programmable in many languages. Enthusiastic and friendly, one of Dug’s first thoughts is, “I have just met you, and I love you.”
Carl, Russell, Dug and Kevin continue the slow trek to Paradise Falls, the balloons slowly losing their buoyancy. Kevin is prone to screech in a melancholy manner toward a certain direction but has bonded with Russell. Carl just wishes his trio of odd pals would quit bothering him.
The inventor of Dug’s translator collar turns out to be none other than Carl’s childhood hero and explorer Charles Muntz; he’s remained in South America to find a living specimen of the elusive Kevin-bird. Decades before, Muntz was discredited after scientists claimed he faked his discovery of a skeleton of the breed. Now he reigns over the region with his large pack of dogs, Dug being the lone Golden Retriever among Dobermans, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and Bulldogs that guard Muntz’ premises. Lead dog Alpha (voiced by Peterson again) appears to be an intimidating Doberman until his thoughts are translated by a malfunctioning collar, making him sound as full of helium as Carl’s balloons.
After an initial friendly welcome, Carl and Muntz square off against each other. The paranoid Muntz wants to capture Kevin (who turns out to be a female protecting a secret stash of chicks). He fears that Carl wants to take credit for his discovery. The battle for Kevin even puts Carl at odds with Russell, and ensuing events include a fight aboard a dirigible, a burning house, various confinements and escapes and a renewed devotion to life for Carl that also benefits Russell.
Carl’s look (white hair, black, squarish glasses) seems to be based on Spencer Tracy in his Judgment at Nuremburg/Guess Who’s coming to Dinner days. Muntz is reminiscent of an elderly Kirk Douglas, complete with indented chin. A sword fight (Carl has a cane) between these two old codgers features each of them taking turns adjusting their rickety spines before continuing with their thrusts and parries.
“UP” is the first Pixar film to be presented in Disney Digital 3-D. That means that the special glasses you have to wear make you look as if you are about to embark on a ski-trip, and elicit several warnings from theater personnel. They cost $40 a pair and you’d better not break them. “UP” is also the first animated film to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.
Director Pete Docter (Monsters. Inc.) understands the mechanics of devotion and uses balloon strings to tug deftly at heartstrings. A photo montage which runs during the end credits shows how Carl’s relationship with Russell continues to flourish, enriching both of their lives.
The tale doesn’t need to be in 3D to work and actually has few notable effects for the process. The uber-glasses needed only made it appear as if a dark film were over the entire screen, making day shots look gloomy and the thousands of colorful balloons muted. Still, “UP” lives up to its lofty title, taking the viewer along for a spin in the clouds and making for a happy high along the way.
Childhood pals Carl and Ellie share a mutual interest in global adventure, as brought to them by newsreels featuring noted explorer Charles F. Muntz (Christopher Plummer, voice). The dirigible-based thrill-seeker shares his airship with an abundance of dogs and travels the world in search of oddities.