31 May 2009

Film: "Up"

Directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson
Written by Bob Peterson
Starring the Voice Talent of: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, Delroy Lindo, Jerome Ranft
Date of Screening: 31 May 2009
MPAA Rating: PG (For Some Peril and Action)

The Film
Carl Fredricksen (Asner), faced with his twilight years, elects instead to fulfill a lifelong promise to his deceased wife, Ellie: he will undertake her childhood dream of landing her clubhouse (which has evolved into their home) atop Paradise Falls. Carl is inadvertently joined on his adventure by Russell (Nagai), an enthusiastic wilderness scout in over his head. They encounter Carl and Ellie's childhood hero, Charles Muntz (Plummer), who is on an Ahab-esque quest of his own. Years ago, his reputation was tarnished when scientists balked at the specimen he provided of a rare bird, and he intends to capture one at all costs.

The Recommendation
Pixar has managed to bring in a wealth of emotion into a seemingly simple adventure story. Of the modern filmmakers, only Steven Spielberg so casually toys with the emotions of his audience and co-directors Docter and Peterson expertly navigate the nuances of this approach to storytelling. Ellie has very little screen time, and yet she looms throughout the entire film; even when Up has reached a point of fantasy so absurd as to include dog pilots, the audience is already so emotionally invested in Carl's story that thoughts of an Evil Snoopy do not occur until after the film has finished. Young ones might find their attention span tested early, but will be rewarded for their patience. I was surprised at how attentively the children in our audience followed the film, and even smiled a few times as one little boy vocally cheered on the protagonists. A film is supposed to capture the attention of its audience, and the rare ones capture their hearts. Up is indeed a rare film.

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