Since Toy Story’s release in 1995, Pixar have produced a further nine feature films, demonstrating a level of quality and consistency that would leave Roger Federer or Tiger Woods hanging their head in shame. Completing the near perfect ten for Pixar is Up, the tale of Carl Fredricksen, a geriatric grouch and widower, who attempts to finally make good on a promise to move his home, and childhood clubhouse, to Paradise Falls, South America.
The journey is, somewhat predictably, far from ordinary; the former balloon salesman using ten thousand of his helium filled leftovers to lift his house from its foundations, unwittingly carrying Russell, an enthusiastic youngster and “Wilderness Explorer” along with him. The journey becomes increasingly challenging for the improbable duo as they befriend a stunning but oddball female bird, which Russell names Kevin, and the massively loveable Dug the dog, who has been fitted with a translating collar which allows him to speak English. Unfortunately, Dug has also been tasked with tracking down Kevin and capturing her for the covetous and obsessive explorer Charles Muntz.
The romance shared between Carl and his late wife Ellie as they grow old together, shown in just the first fifteen minutes of the film, is so heart-rending that I wondered briefly where the film could go next. For any naysayers who dispute the impact that animated films can make, well, I condemn you to a lifetime without moments like these.
So where did the film go next? Well, up, of course, but in effect to a lighter place. The relationship between the misanthropic old man Carl and young Russell develops wonderfully and together they are charming and delightfully dysfunctional, although once Kevin and Dug enter the big screen it becomes raucous.
Yes, it’s true that a lot of the laughs stem from physical humour, absurd anthropomorphic interaction and farce, but frankly, who cares? These jokes may not need the most sophisticated sense of humour, and, yes, they may appeal to children but that is the beauty of these films — there is nothing elitist; it is all about honest emotions and interactions in a beautifully told and packaged story.
Indeed, Up comes with an additional piece of packaging in the form of the elegant NHS-style 3D glasses that you get to watch it with. I initially feared that this may lead Pixar down the road of “things flying at your face” style gimmickry, but so subtly done are the 3D effects that I now firmly believe the glasses were developed to serve an altogether different purpose. Yes, with these tinted specs, viewers who previously fell into the demographic of “ashamed weepers” can at last have a lovely long cry while the Pixar maestros effortlessly pull on our heart strings. No one will be any the wiser.
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