Last night my wife and I had the wonderful opportunity to watch an early screening of “Up”, Pixar’s 10th animated film which is scheduled for release on May 29th, 2009. We had no idea what movie we were going to watch until we entered the theater and were giddy to find out it was “Up” as we are avid fans of animated movies. We were lucky to be one of the first audiences in the world to see the film which combined a bittersweet coming of age story with an unexpected friendship. The rough-cut version of the film that was presented to us was mixed with storyboard, rough and finished animation. The movie plot was completely original but somewhat dark with many adult themes (aging, loss, separation and unfinished promises). Both my wife and I welled up at a few scenes and there is a memorable montage that depicts a couple’s life together that is so poignant, even the toughest critic will be moved. There are still some very funny moments but this picture really stands on its own and is difficult to compare to its Pixar predecessors.
The cantankerous hero of “Up” is named Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Ed Asner) who spends his entire life dreaming of exploring the globe and experiencing life to its fullest. But at age 78, life seemed to have passed him by, until a twist of fate (and a persistent 8-year old Wilderness Explorer named Russell) gives him a new lease on life. The audience is along for a thrilling ride and journey with the unlikely pair of Carl and Russell as they encounter wild South American terrain, an unexpected villain and unusual jungle creatures.
The film was directed by Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc.) and co-directed by Bob Peterson (Finding Nemo) who also wrote the screenplay. “Up” featured the voices of Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, John Ratzenberger and Jordan Nagai.
After the movie, we were part of a 20 person focus group that provided commentary on our likes and dislikes, highlights and low points. It will be interesting to see if any of our input will alter the finished product.
I would definitely recommend this movie to family and friends as the animation that we saw was top notch. We generally cared for the major characters and found the story to be unique although a little morose compared to other Pixar fare. It was refreshing to see an action hero in his 70’s. If your grandparents have never seen a Pixar movie, this is the one to bring them to as long as they remember their tissues. Kids will love the Russell character and the fun animals in the film. Although not my favorite Pixar film (my favorites were Finding Nemo and The Incredibles) it is far better than many animated or even live action movies in the theater currently.