Pixar's scriptwriters have a way of tugging at your heartstrings. Toy Story made grownups want to run home and dig out their old teddy bears (or monsters, rubber ducks, sheep, etc.). The Incredibles made grown men want to run home to their wife and kids. UP makes grown men weep, hold their wives closer and keep every promise they ever made, no matter how silly.
But it's not all tears and soppy sentiment. The overenthusiastic cub scout, Russel, plays wonderfully off of the crusty, 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen. Carl manages to be simultaneously a dreamer and a sarcastic straightman as he unwillingly leads Russell on a grand adventure to the wilds of South America in search of his boyhood dream.
What truly makes UP unique is how realistic the characters are. I'm not talking about their physical appearance but, rather, their personalities. Russell is everything Pinocchio wants to be - a real boy through and through.
Dug the talking dog is a very real dog, with such memorable lines as "Hi! My name is Dug. I have just met you and I love you SQUIRREL!!! . . . . . . . Hi there!"
Needless to say, the visuals are fabulous. Unlike most 3D movies (I'm looking at YOU, Journey to the Center of the Earth - much as I love Brendan Fraser, please don't make him spit on me in 3D ever again), UP doesn't resort to a lot of what the Muppets would refer to as "cheap 3D tricks." Just the opening pan around Cinderella's Castle with the fireworks brought a tear of joy to my eye. The attention to detail is incredible, down to stubble slowly growing on Carl's chin as he neglects to shave through his journey and Russell getting progressively dirtier. No wonder Disney had previews/trailers for 3 other films "in Disney Digital 3D." The effect is astounding.
While the film does have a direct antagonist, Carl's real enemy, from the very beginning, is time. Time to do the things he wants to do, time before he goes senile and gets put in a nursing home, time before his balloons lose their lift and his house becomes immobile. This universal theme can appeal to anyone - if you are a human being and you can breathe, you should watch this movie.
Also, as a side note, the pre-film short, Slightly Cloudy, is destined to be one of the greatest Pixar shorts - just trust me on this one.
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