Over the last 5 years, many people, after seeing the trailers for the summer blockbusters, say "Where is the originality?" It is easy for people to criticize a director or producer for not wanting to experiment with a new topic. Instead, many rehash books, remake movies, and create sequels/prequels for an original story. While I'm not going to delve into why this isn't a bad thing, I do want to praise Pixar for an achievement that continues their 10 movie run, going all the way back to Toy Story in 1995. The success is the thing that movie makers should study, namely (in my opinion), only putting out quality movies, instead of making a quick buck (see "The Hottie and the Nottie"). "Up" continues that tradition of breathtaking visuals, masterful storytelling, and touching your heart in places you didn't think could be touched (and I mean that sincerely).
"Up" could be viewed as a 3-part play, plus an epilogue. We start by meeting the young Carl Fredricksen, watching the old newsreels movie houses used to show before the film. He idolizes Charles Muntz, the famed adventurer and explorer who has traveled all over the world, yet was shamed through an apparent falsification in one of his discoveries. Carl seems just as scandalized as Muntz does, and as he walks home from the movie, he fantasizes about his own adventure, vowing someday to travel to South America like Muntz.
Carl meets his best friend, the women of his dreams, and she shares the same dream. They plan, and plan, and struggle (after finding out that they won't be able to have children), and plan, and wait, and plan, and finally, when Carl purchases the tickets, tragedy strikes.
End Act 1
We then meet Carl, an old curmudgeon if there ever was one. He wakes up early. He eats bran. He doesn't like the slick developer, with his fancy cell phone (I think Carl was jealous that he didn't have a Jitterbug). He has an altercation, and realizes that the big city isn't the place for him, and loads up his house with balloons and heads for South America, to Paradise Falls, to be like his hero. Yet Carl has a visitor. After struggling to make it to the place that he and his beloved had desired to plant their house, he makes it, and realizes he's spent his entire life wishing, and not enough doing.
End Act 2
I'm not one for superlatives, or over-praising a trendy movie, but "Up" was one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen. And I loved "Ratatouille," I loved "Wall-E," "The Incredibles," and all the other 5 movies (in my opinion, "Cars" wasn't that good and it was too much of a product-selling ploy). The visuals make you forget its animated, yet want more. The humor is subtle and glaringly obvious, but not overdone. The story is one that will have an old, crotchety amateur movie reviewer giggle and smile like a little kid. And for some reason, that takes a lot. I like to get emotionally wrapped in my movies, as long as I can have a critical eye and examine the flaws. Yet "Up" forces you afterward to wonder about Carl, and yourself, and wonder if you're letting life pass you by because you're waiting for your "moment." It shows that everyone needs a friend, and everyone wants to be wanted.
I hope that the current trends on both IMDB.com and Rotten Tomatoes continue to give credit to this beautiful movie.
My Score - 94%
IMDB.com - 9.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes - 98%
Eric D. Snider - A-