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It's Friday morning. Time to wake UP! Capone sings the praises of Pixar's latest!!!

Hey, everyone. Capone in Chicago here. Ho-hum. Another year, another fantastic Pixar film. What else is new? What? 3-D? Please continue. Excluding the first 45 unfinished minutes that I saw of UP at Butt Numb-a-Thon last December, I've actually seen this movie twice --once in 2-D and once in 3-D--and despite some people's claims that there's some degradation in the image when you strap on the 3-D glasses, unless you're looking at both version side by side, you aren't going to notice the difference. That said, I think anyone would be lucky to see the film in either 2-D or 3-D; this is one of the few 3-D-available movies that I think suffers nothing by not being seen in 3-D. I liked the film equally in both formats, so if you're desperate to catch UP and you don't have ready access to a 3-D-ready theater, don't sweat it. From one of Pixar's founding fathers, Peter Docter (MONSTERS INC.), comes what is essentially the final Indiana Jones movie... or at least it should. Actually I think UP has better and more believable action sequences than the last Indiana Jones chapter, and is a far better tale of a recipient of social security who straightens up his hunched-over back and arthritis-riddled hands for one final adventure in an exotic location. The man in question here is 78-year-old Carl Fredrickson, a man who married his elementary school sweetheart Ellie, and had always planned on taking her on a trip to South America (or possibly even moving there). In one of the greatest opening sequences in recent memory (and certainly the most emotionally satisfying), we see Carl and Ellie's life together. The bond as children over the exploits of world-famous adventurer Charles Muntz (voiced by Christopher Plummer), who we see in newsreel footage as he is discredited after failing to produce evidence of his greatest scientific find. From their first meeting on, Carl and Ellie were practically inseparable. We're treated to a series of moments in their modest lives, done largely in unspoken scenes that convey just how devoted they are to each other, and how Carl's income as a balloon salesman at the zoo never quite afforded them that trip they were always planning. When Ellie dies, Carl (played by Ed Asner as a elderly gentleman) basically folds in on himself. Jumping ahead a few years, Carl's home is being encroached upon by urban development all around him, but he refuses to sell him home and move into a retirement community, until a mishap in front of his home forces the issue and he is given no choice in the matter. It is right around this time that he meets Russell (Jordan Nagai), a Wilderness Explorer looking to get his final merit badge, one for helping the elderly. Carl doesn't need any help and slams the door in the kid's face. On the day that Carl is supposed to move out, he devises a plan using his skills from the previous job and ties thousands of balloons to his house in an effort to rip it from its foundation and fly it to South America and a spot he and Ellie had seen where they wanted to move. The launching of Carl's house sequence will make you forget to breathe, it's so beautiful. And the film just gets better from there. The rest of UP is a little tougher to explain, so I won't really try. In my mind, it felt like the most wonderfully random series of adventures that the filmmakers could come up with. You probably already know that Russell somehow manages to stow away and become Carl's co-captain on the journey. But what happens to them once they reach their destination is so unpredictable and fun that I don't want to ruin too much of it. I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying that the pair do stumble about Muntz, who has carved out a life for himself filled with talking dogs (or more specifically, dog collars that allow his dogs' barking and other noises to be translated into speech), and decades of bitterness stemming from that one newsreel-captured moment of disgrace. The imagination fireworks are on full display with UP, and I honestly can't remember a previous Pixar film that had this much fun being weird while remaining totally accessible. Perhaps because the film's central character is an old man, the filmmakers felt like they needed to make Russell a bit more of a kid than I think he needed to be, but that didn't really bother me (the film is, in fact, only Pixar's second PG-rated film, along with The Incredibles). Quite the contrary, the comedy stylings of Carl and Russell make UP Pixar's funniest film to date, as well as the most purely adventurous offering from the animation house. Most of what I could say about my great affection for UP would probably only take the form of a long list of small touches that added up to an outstanding final product. For example, I love the Carl uses his walking stick as a tool for adventure, as he does his garden hose (still attached to the side of his flying house). I love that the meanest dog in the pack has a broken collar resulting in a Chipmunk-like that the other dogs laugh at. I love that people are debating whether Russell is Asian or not. It's silly--of course he is. I love the way the balloons look and move so incredibly real that it makes we want to hold a balloon and be its best friend. I love that the Pixar folks still managed to find room for John Ratzenberger's voice in a movie that doesn't have many characters. I loved the thunderstorm sequence. I'm a one-man lovefest for this film and I don't care who knows it. And while UP doesn't strive to apply a deeper meaning to its story the way WALL-E did, the message about never giving up on your childhood dreams is front and center here, and that's inspiring as hell. We could all use that reminder on a regular basis. The best thing about casting Ed Asner as Carl is that if this film were somehow made as a live-action feature, Ed would still be playing Carl. In a rare instance for me, I never forgot that it was Asner in this role. My mind transplanted Asner's face right on top of Carl's body, and that was OK by me. He is Carl, and Carl is he. There's no line. He inhabits this character because he is this character. OK, Asner might not be as curmudgeonly as Carl in real life, but beyond that they inhabit the same space. Asner/Carl is the third grandfather I'd always wished I'd had but never knew it until I saw this film. Enough gushing. You know whether or not you want to see UP. It's Pixar, and even their least interesting work is better than 95 percent of what you see in a given year. Stop reading and go. If you can find it in 3-D, great. If you can't, doesn't matter. Have the adventure of a lifetime, even if it isn't your lifetime. I should also add here that the opening Pixar short, PARTLY CLOUDY, is yet another example of brilliant, dialogue-free storytelling and perhaps the single most creative short Pixar has ever made. Bravo to director Peter Sohn and Co. for giving us Pixar's version of creationism; it's certainly one I can get behind. -- Capone capone@aintitcoolmail.com



Readers Talkback
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  • May 29, 2009, 7:47 a.m. CST

    Looking forward to going up

    by hallmitchell

  • May 29, 2009, 7:48 a.m. CST

    I like the fact it doesn't seem to be

    by hallmitchell

    just another animated film about animals.

  • May 29, 2009, 7:52 a.m. CST

    I don't know...

    by wampa 1

    ...but it sure smells good!

  • May 29, 2009, 7:53 a.m. CST

    Anyone's going to see this, can you let me know...

    by PennsyDeux

    If there's a 'When in Rome' trailer that runs before the movie? It's a Touchstone release, so you'd figure Disney would put it in front of one of its A-1 releases for the whole year. <p> Thanks.

  • May 29, 2009, 7:58 a.m. CST

    Random useless post

    by The_Red_Knight

    On my part, Not the review. Sounds like a fun movie.

  • May 29, 2009, 7:59 a.m. CST

    Another year, another lack of animation

    by Dingbatty

    on the big screen from a variety animators who don't produce formulaic CG fluff (continue on with your Pixar/Dreamworks bloc).

  • May 29, 2009, 8:14 a.m. CST

    Finding Nemo was lame

    by Rupee88

    That's why I don't believe all these glowing up reviews. It's probably good, but no way to be sure as people just love Pixar because it's Pixar. And I don't think that 2D = 3D...I haven't seen this film but it sure made a HUGE difference with Beowulf.

  • May 29, 2009, 8:16 a.m. CST

    hallmitchell

    by Dharma4

    That is so true. I am tired of all this retarded stupid animation movies that involve animals and shit like that. Thank God Pixar exists. They take a step forward and actually let us have fun with the animation and characters.

  • May 29, 2009, 8:23 a.m. CST

    John Ratzenberger's in it?

    by Shut the Fuck up Donny

    That's all I needed to know. I'm there.

  • May 29, 2009, 8:40 a.m. CST

    Rupee88

    by filmcoyote

    You did read the review right? Capone is saying FOR THE FIRST TIME the 2D version doesn't lose anything from the 3D. ie: any 3D film that has come before it has been made better by 3D, but Up is as great in both formats. He's not saying 2D=3D, in fact he says for all previous films the exact opposiste is true. He's pretty clear on that, can't see how you missed it.

  • May 29, 2009, 8:53 a.m. CST

    WooHoo!

    by Col. Tigh-Fighter

    Just bring it already! <p> I love me PIXAR :)

  • May 29, 2009, 8:54 a.m. CST

    PIXAR RULES!!!

    by Underoos Hero

    There are several theaters in my area showing this in 3-D!! Woohoo!!

  • May 29, 2009, 9:13 a.m. CST

    What a track record, if Pixar closed tomorrow

    by performingmonkey

    Hope they don't close, of course! But they are synonymous with great filmmaking, not just animation (which is second to none, as we all know) and nothing can take that away from them.

  • May 29, 2009, 9:19 a.m. CST

    Pennsy - Ive seen a couple different When in Rome trailers

    by ShiftyEyedDog2

    I belong to one of those "survey" sites, and sometimes they have us watch early trailers and give feedback/reactions/opinions. I LOVE Kristen Bell, but what I've seen does not make me overly excited about the flick. All the "suitors" are just annoying and caricatures.

  • May 29, 2009, 9:44 a.m. CST

    Honestly, do Pixar movies need reviews?

    by gruntybear

    Has there ever been a Pixar movie that got a less than stellar review? It just seems completely pointless to write an essay about the Pixar "quality" formula at this point. The films are all of a type; and if you love that "type," it's obvious that you'll be a fanboy for the next remarkably similar product.

  • May 29, 2009, 10:48 a.m. CST

    Digbatty

    by Chesterfield Slacks

    Sad that there is a ton of great animation worldwide, mainly in short format, that gets no distribution. I collect as much of it as I can. Doesn't stop me from loving what Pixar does. They at least inspire.

  • May 29, 2009, 11:38 a.m. CST

    grammar, spellcheck, PROOFREAD!!

    by dancetothebeatofthelivingdead

    Is this site getting worse by the day? Have all the reboots, rehashes, sequels, remakes, and reimaginings turned the collective staff brain to mush?

  • May 29, 2009, 12:32 p.m. CST

    Goin' UP!

    by FeralAngel

    Definitely seeing this flick this weekend. Had my doubts as to whether Pixar was getting a little too artsy-fartsy, but this looks like fun. I already love that dog. And I'm so ready to see an intelligent toon after suffering through that lousy Monsters vs. Aliens crapload. Maybe "Up" will do a little pushing back against the notion that only Dreamworks makes "fun" toons anymore. Sure hope so...

  • May 29, 2009, 12:47 p.m. CST

    "the message about never giving up on your childhood dreams"

    by CerebralAssassin

    "the message about never giving up on your childhood dreams is front and center here, and that's inspiring as hell. We could all use that reminder on a regular basis." Ha ha, if that's what you thought the message was, then you clearly weren't paying attention. The message is the OPPOSITE of that! The film says (blatantly and obviously if you were you paying attention): "Fuck your childhood dreams. Even if you reach your goal it won't be what you expect it to be. Fuck dreams and have real experiences and have real emotions with the people you love. And, if you don't have anyone to love, love someone new."

  • May 29, 2009, 1:11 p.m. CST

    McG ruined my childhood dream last week

    by Ash0k

    !@#$ YOU MCG!!!

  • May 29, 2009, 1:24 p.m. CST

    Absolutely loved it!

    by slatefish

    This is the movie I wished Pixar had made just for me. Fantastic!

  • May 29, 2009, 1:35 p.m. CST

    Loved it!!!!! Pixars best to date!!!

    by millermeusa

    the first ten minutes are a tear-jerker indeed, and more adult oriented then previous Pixar products!!!

  • May 29, 2009, 1:41 p.m. CST

    C'mon Capone...

    by BlkSamri

    Let me first say that Capone, you are my favorite reviewer because I agree with you on damn near EVERY movie and so I read all your reviews. Now having said that, STOP PUTTING SO MUCH OF THE MOVIE IN YOUR REVIEWS!! I have to skip past a huge chunk cuz I don't want to know what's gonna happen scene for scene. Sheesh.

  • May 29, 2009, 1:45 p.m. CST

    i cared more about a bird in UP than anyone in T4

    by Six Demon Bag

    and the cloud for that matter.

  • May 29, 2009, 7:54 p.m. CST

    Up is the best movie of the year. I'm not kidding.

    by SoylentMean

    It's gonna take some kinda act of God to change my mind on that one. I smiled the whole damn movie. Today was a good day at the movies. <P> Drag Me To Hell was awesome as well.

  • May 30, 2009, 10:43 a.m. CST

    3-D Was A Blast

    by GoSensGo

    I'm gonna miss 3-D when I buy the DVD.

  • May 31, 2009, 6:04 a.m. CST

    caerlas

    by caerlas

    Saw it yesterday. It had some grown men crying in the theater. I was not one of them, but it was decent. Not my favorite Pixar film. I think Wall-E tops that list.