It's been almost 15 years since a little animation studio called Pixar brought us a movie called Toy Story, and if anyone ever told me that in 15 years, over 10 movies, along with countless short films, that Pixar would never make a bad movie, I would have scoffed. Every Pixar film that has been released has been met with the same critical and audience acclaim ( some less then others, but still popular). The trend continues with " Up", Pixar's most mature movie to date.
" Up" starts off simple enough, with a young boy, Carl, meeting a young girl, Ellie, and bonding over the shared love of adventure and admiration of famed explorer Charles Muntz. It quickly dives into more mature themes as we see the two fall in love, prepare for a child, loose the child before it is born, grow old together, and then we watch as Carl looses Ellie, all in one wordless, heartbreaking 4 minute span.
Some time later, we see that Carl ( terrifically voiced by the gruff Ed Asner) has become akin to a bear in hibernation as the world changes around him and the home that he and Ellie shared for so many years in threatened by developers. One day, just as he is about to be taken away by court order to a retirement home, the bear in Carl awakens as he flies his house off( via thousands of balloons tied to his fireplace) to Paradise Falls in South America, a place that both he and his late wife dreamed of visiting, but never got around to it. A Bug's Life this is not. This is some deep, heartwrenching work, and it is fantastic.
For the kids, there are two characters whose lines they will be quoting for weeks to come. The First is Russell, a young Wilderness Explorer who became trapped on Carl's porch during lift off while attempting to help Carl and therefore get his " Assisting the Elderly" badge and become a senior Wilderness Explorer.
Russell( played by Jordan Nagai) is a wide eyed enthusiast who talks constantly and grows on Carl. Russell is no ordinary sidekick, and the characters backstory is just as heartbreaking as Carl's but I won't spoil that for you.
The second character is Dug ( voiced by Pixar Animation Artist Bob Peterson) a dog with a collar that allows him to speak. This is a great twist to the talking animal characters that populate children's movies in the vein that Dug really does act like a dog, and not like a human. Pete Doctor ( the director) apparently studied up on the physiology of dogs, and it shows. Dug is a great character for this movie and provides much of the comic relief
"Masterpiece" is a word that is overused in the genre of film, but in this case it is entirely appropriate. This is not just a kids film, but a work of art, and one that i believe will get better the more times it is viewed.