Up (2009) (PG)

This review contains SPOILERS!
"Up" is Pixar's finest movie. That's not to say that the studio's other movies haven't been good—on the contrary, I don't think that there has been a bad movie released from Pixar. But "Up" is virtually flawless in its design, script, and execution. It's the culmination of years of computer animation and genius storytelling (can you think of another movie that compares with a rat that wishes to become a chef?).
Carl Fredricksen is an explorer in the making, but with his tenacity to explore comes timidity and shyness. He's not the most outgoing person, but he's young so maybe he'll grow out of it. He's inspired by Charles Muntz whose exploration of South America resulted in a life determined to find an extinct species.
Then there's Ellie, as equally as enthusiastic about exploring and adventures as Carl (probably more so) and exponentially more outgoing. Ellie and Carl make a vow to one day go to South America and have adventures there.
Then—love happens. They gets married and start to take on responsibilities and soon their childhood dreams of exploring and adventuring fade into the background...not forgotten, but put on hold for now.
It's these moments, when we observe the evolution of their marriage that "Up" shows the strength of silent communication. The most powerful scene in the movie comes at the beginning and there are no words spoken—just Michael Giacchino's breathtaking score. This montage has been heralded and praised, but no words could truly do it justice—just watch the movie.
"Up" is a tale of one last exploration, it's also a way of keeping promises. What "Up" manages to do is condense the intimacy and love of a marriage and the heartbreak that comes with it into a children's movie that is digestible for both adults and kids.
There's the deeper meaning for adults who can understand and empathize with Carl better; but there's also some very fun and clever moments that include dogs that talk and fly planes.
The animation of "Up" is stunning and the story is outlandish enough to be plausible.
"Up" became the first animated movie in years to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and it's a shame that it didn't win. The winner was "The Hurt Locker" which is a hard movie to compete with—after all, the two are apples and oranges. I'm not sure that one is better than the other.
But "Up" can reach a broader audience than "The Hurt Locker" can. It's just as emotionally impactful as the war movie and without all the violence and suspense.
It's nice to see, at the core of "Up", a movie that represents elderly people as the heroes. There is no horror that is paralleled with Carl's aging, he does it as gracefully as he can.
Pixar's "Up" is a masterpiece—simple and complex in the same breath.

Score: 4 out of 4 stars

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