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When Carl Fredricksen was young,
Self-conscious with a timid tongue,
He heard his hero’s praises sung,
The fearless Charles Muntz.
A skeleton Muntz found with zeal
Sparked doubts on whether it was real.
Muntz vowed to catch one and appeal,
The greatest of his hunts.
For Carl, this did not deter
His zeal as an adventurer,
Nor Ellie’s. Carl promised her
That they would fly some day
To Paradise Falls and do stuff.
They wed, and plans seemed like enough.
But plans were changed as times grew rough,
And life got in the way.
They still both lived in happiness
At their beloved home address,
Till Ellie’s death served to depress
Her aging husband’s heart.
Though builders offered quite a fee,
He guarded their house jealously.
Evicted by a court decree,
He planned a whole new start.
He chooses not to gripe and grouse
But blows balloons to lift his house
And fill his promise to his spouse
To take this thrilling trip.
To Paradise Falls he intends
To fly, but as his house ascends,
A wilderness explorer lends
His help to this airship.
To South America, they float
But fall out in this land remote,
Where Carl is dismayed to note
They have a ways to walk.
Connected to the house o’erhead,
They journey through the jungle, led
By Carl, who is stopped instead
By birds, and dogs that talk.
He meets the ancient Charles Muntz,
Still on that greatest of his hunts,
Who first seems nice but then confronts
The duo with suspicion.
A giant bird that Russell found
Is what Muntz wants to still impound.
His blimp and many a talking hound
Have not achieved his mission.
When Carl and Russell flee the nut,
With help from bird and friendly mutt,
The pair are shocked and scared somewhat
But aid the injured bird.
Muntz still sneaks up and apprehends
The bird, with whom the boy’s made friends,
And Carl will not make amends,
But Russell’s undeterred.
Though Carl makes it to the falls,
With Ellie’s help he then recalls
That their life meant more than four walls,
And he assists the scout.
He follows Russell in the air
To get the bird from Muntz’s lair.
The good and bad guys face off there
Till gravity wins out.
Though Carl bids his house goodbye,
They take the bird back home nearby.
He uses Muntz’s blimp to fly
Young Russell to his home.
Since Russell’s dad won’t show his face
To grant him patches and embrace,
Old Carl comes to take his place
And share an ice cream cone.

From the very beginning, Up has all the promise of a masterpiece. The first eleven minutes, detailing Carl and Ellie’s life together, have been rightfully hailed as a high point in animation history. The rest of the film is similarly brilliant, just in a very different way from most of Pixar’s canon, contrasting the beautiful opening with utter cartoonish wackiness.

Like WALL-E, Up is rather controversial for me. I consider it another Pixar classic, worthy of its Oscar nomination for Best Picture, while my VC was left cold. She certainly enjoyed everything pertaining to Ellie but felt the random inclusion of a giant “snipe” (my dad once fell for that same snipe joke) and talking dogs was just too silly to swallow. She also has poked holes in the plot, such as the fact that Muntz was still alive, since he must have been in his nineties; maybe he found the fountain of youth down in South America, or the Holy Grail. While the film was unique for featuring an elderly protagonist, even I have to admit that Carl’s and Muntz’s athleticism toward the end did strain credulity. While these issues sadly spoiled the film for her, I can overlook them with the help of Coleridge’s famous concept, the suspension of disbelief. Some people got it; some don’t.

I have more of an issue with Russell’s thin attachment to the giant bird he names “Kevin.” The relationship doesn’t seem to be any deeper than that of an owner and pet, yet Russell is willing to risk his life for the pet he found days before. What’s more, he blames Carl for “giving her away” when he did no such thing. Considering the situation, Muntz would have captured the bird regardless of Carl’s actions, so Russell’s guilt trip seemed unjustified and unfair.

All right, now that I got that out of my system, I’ll mention the gorgeous animation, the excellent voice acting (led by Ed Asner as Carl, Christopher Plummer as Muntz, and Bob Peterson as the squirrel-distracted dog Dug), the high-flying action sure to give someone acrophobia, and Michael Giacchino’s buoyant score. The main idea of a mobile dwelling that ends up damaged and abandoned may have been borrowed from Howl’s Moving Castle, of which director Pete Docter directed the English translation as well, but the plot is otherwise wholly original and frequently inspired.

Up isn’t quite on par with Pixar’s greatest work, but it’s an animated gem that earns both laughs and tears and has a timely message about life’s real adventures that tugs my heartstrings every time.

Best line: (Russell, after describing a simple pleasure he had with his dad) “That might sound boring, but I think the boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most.”

Artistry: 9
Characters/Actors: 7
Entertainment: 7
Visual Effects: 10
Originality: 9
Watchability: 7
Other (aforementioned issues): -3
TOTAL: 46 out of 60

Next: #163 – Enchanted

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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