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UP (2D & 3D)

Childhood sweethearts Carl and Ellie never quite manage to make their dream of a house at Paradise Falls in South America come true. After Ellie's death, Carl (voice of Ed Asner), now 78 and retired from his balloon selling job, is being bullied by developers to sell the home they built. Adamant not to sell but forced to leave, he ties thousands of balloons to the roof, lifting the house into the air, and sets off for South America, to fulfill that old promise. Carl's plan is challenged with the discovery of an accidental stowaway, young adventure seeker Russell (voice of Jordan Nagai), but even bigger surprises are in store for the duo, from extreme weather and treacherous terrain - to the strange and dangerous inhabitants of a lost world, including an obsessed adventurer famous in Carl's youth, but missing ever since: Charles Muntz (voice of Christopher Plummer).

Review by Louise Keller:
New beginnings and a spirit of adventure are the themes of this enchanting animation from Pixar in which a lonely old man and eager young boy fulfil their dreams in a helium propelled flying house. Ingenuity and humour are in abundant supply as writer directors Pete Docter and Bob Peterson charm our socks off as the ideas and execution are beautifully dished up.

The heart of the film is firmly established when a little boy carrying a blue balloon meets an effervescent like-minded girl in the deserted house of a missing explorer. Their love story is simply and effectively told as they make a life together watching the clouds go by and dreaming of having a big adventure in South America's Paradise Falls. Suddenly Carl, the little boy has become Mr Fredricksen, a grumpy old man (voiced by Ed Asner) and the unwelcome knock on the door by a gauche but determined boy scout called Russell (voiced by Jordan Nagai) is the trigger for making his dreams become a reality. Like a rocket launch, the adventure begins in earnest with a colourful and dramatic lift-off, as the house powered by a myriad of rainbow balloons blasts off into the sky.

There are talking dogs, a giant multi-coloured bird who likes chocolate and a blimp that is canine heaven (dogs that play cards as well as create gourmet dinners). Christopher Plummer commandingly voices Charles Muntz, the complex explorer tracking down the elusive bird, whose long turquoise neck clearly shows the shape of anything it swallows, including Mr Fredricksen's cane on tennis balls. But the cane and those tennis balls are useful in other ways, too, as we later discover. The relationship of the odd couple pairing of Mr Fredricksen and Russell is key to the film's success as dreams are lost and found in the clouds.

Ultimately the film is about the little things. All those little things that are in fact the big things, including the priceless moments that the innovators at Pixar have gathered. Spirits will soar as high as the balloons in this endearing, funny and moving tale.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A triumph of animation and imagination, Up is impossible not to enjoy, with its combination of adventure, true love and humour. The true love part is a grounding feature, established firmly and quickly at the start, and it continues to drive the film's emotional tone, even after the lovers have become veterans of life. Carl (voice of Ed Asner) becomes a widower whose earnest and sincere promise to take the love of his life to Paradise Falls in South America as their life's major adventure could never be kept. It's an impossible dream, symbolic of freedom and nature's soaring beauty ... and its elusiveness of life's often hard reality.

When the young wilderness scout Russell (Jordan Nagai) literally bullies his way into Carl's life, determined to assist the old man to gain his final badge that makes him a Senior in his ranks, the odd couple team is forged through fate's clever timing. By this time we have bonded with Carl, a considerable feat in view of his grumpy old man state - but this is where the clever set up works its magic. We see him as the dreamer of yore - and with nothing left to lose, he's free to dream ... in spades.

The adventure is both an allegory and a road movie, albeit the road is the sky, and the objective is both physical and emotional. The final element is the lost world they encounter on the way, where they find the surprising, large bird unknown to science, and the man who has been chasing it since being disgraced way back in Carl's youth. Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer) has become an obsessive old devil, desperate to show the world the bird he promised them ... but now a crazed old man with a team of strange dogs as his protectors - and his army.

Striking for its visual fluency and lifelike textures in everything from dog hair to the grey stubble on Carl's chin, Up offers audiences diverse characters who are all in search of something they hold dear. The ones whose quest is noble are those who achieve their goals; it's a recurring moral message, but the journey in Up is different. Seems odd to say, but having two of the three central characters as veterans brings a freshness to the family animation genre. The film opened the 2009 Cannes Film Festival - on an up note .....

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UP (2D & 3D) (PG)
(US, 2009)

VOICES: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, Delroy Lindo, Jerome Ranft, John Ratzenberger, Elie Docter, Jeremy Leary

PRODUCER: Jonas Rivera

DIRECTOR: Pete Docter (Bob Peterson, co-director)

SCRIPT: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson

MUSIC: Michael Giacchino


RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Vic, Qld: September 3; SA, WA: September 10; NSW: September 17, 2009

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