I was lucky enough to get a ticket to a special pre-release screening
of Up at Pixar studios in Emeryville, organized by the San Francisco
Film Society. After a hour-long reception in the atrium of their
beautiful main building we went through some rigorous security (metal
detectors!) and were treated to an hilarious short (Partly Cloudy) and
Pixar's new high water mark, Up.
My favorites to date have definitely been Wall-E and the Incredibles, and Up is another slightly-left-of-center masterpiece. The emotional impact of the beautiful, wordless summation of Carl's life that opens the movie is the bass note that resonates through the whole film and is at least as affecting as the scene in Wall-E when he holds his own hands while watching Hello Dolly. The rest of the movie, of course, is breathtaking on just about every level, especially the tactile quality of all the characters and textures and the completely realized weather effects and action scenes. With no "new" technical milestones (fur in Monsters, Inc., water in Finding Nemo, realistic camera effects in Wall- E), the design is the main focus, from the hilariously stylized characters to the amazing setting of the tepui.
As the associate producer who participated in the Q&A following the movie pointed out, the past three Pixar movies have not been easy sells to their parent company Disney (they'll be back in familiar territory with Toy Story 3 and Cars 2), but Pixar's commitment to inventive, story-driven films continues to pay off here. All of the good press is true, and I can't wait to see it again. Thanks for staying true to yourselves Pixar!
Action / Adventure / Animation / Comedy / Family
Action / Adventure / Animation / Comedy / Family
Young Carl Fredricksen (Jeremy Leary), a quiet bespectacled boy wearing an old pilot's cap and goggles, watches a film reel in a theater depicting his hero Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer), a famous explorer. The reporter speaks of Muntz's various accomplishments and discoveries before commenting that he was recently dishonored by scientists who believed his latest find, the large skeleton of a bird, was a hoax. Intent on proving them wrong, Muntz is seen boarding his zeppelin with his team of dogs and promises to return once he has brought back living proof of his find. After the show, Carl runs down the street with his balloon, named after Muntzs zeppelin The Spirit of Adventure. He passes an old, rundown house where he hears someone shout out Muntz's famous slogan: Adventure is out there!Carl goes inside to investigate and meets a young, outgoing tomboy who shares his passion for exploration and admiration of Charles Muntz. Startled by her loud, boyish demeanor at first, Carl loses his balloon in the rafters. The girl, Ellie (Elie Docter), helps him retrieve it, though Carl falls from a beam and breaks his arm. Ellie sneaks into his room that night and shows him her adventure book where she expresses a desire to one day move to the top of Paradise Falls in South America, showing him a picture that she 'ripped right out of a library book'. She makes him promise that they will go together someday before leaving. A musical montage shows Carl and Ellie eventually getting married and moving into the old house where they first met. Their marriage is blissful and they get jobs as a balloon salesman and zookeeper, respectively. When they discover that Ellie is unable to have children, they make a pact to save money to travel to Paradise Falls. However, as the years pass, they are forced to dig into their Falls fund for other obligations. One day, an elderly Carl realizes that, despite living happily together, they never fulfilled their old promise and decides to surprise Ellie on a picnic with tickets to South America. However, Ellie's declining health puts her in the hospital and she eventually passes away, leaving Carl alone.Carl remains in his home, a retired and sour recluse, as the city grows around him. He is encouraged to move to a retirement home due to increased construction, but often argues with the foreman (John Ratzenberger) and refuses to leave. One day, he meets Russell (Jordan Nagai), a young wilderness explorer scout who attempts to assist Carl in order to earn his 'assisting the elderly' badge. Carl tricks Russell into 'assisting' him by telling him to find and get rid of a 'snipe' that invades his yard. When a construction worker accidentally breaks Carl's mailbox, a part of the house and a part of Ellie that Carl cherishes, Carl hits him over the head with his walker. The assault lands him in court where he is forced to move out of his home by the next day. Workers from Shady Oaks retirement home arrive to pick him up the following morning but are shocked to find Carl releasing millions of helium balloons into the air which detach his house from its foundation, lifting it over the city and into the sky.Comfortably away from the city, Carl sets a course for South America and rests in his chair until hes interrupted by a knock at the door. Upon answering, he discovers Russell hanging on to dear life on his porch; apparently, Russell had been snipe searching under Carls porch. Carl lets him in and decides to descend to return Russell home before a severe storm hits. The house is knocked around in the turbulence but Carl manages to tie most of his items down before falling asleep. He's woken the next morning by Russell, who tells him that they're over South America (thanks to a GPS device that he accidentally throws out the window), though the ground is hidden by a dense fog. Carl releases some balloons to descend but they hit ground early and are knocked out of the house. They manage to hold onto it using a hose attached to the porch while the fog lifts to reveal that they are standing on a high plateau opposite Paradise Falls. Unable to climb back into the house, they resolve to walk to the falls before the helium in the balloons lets out.Meanwhile, a chase is progressing in the jungle. Three dogs with red lights on their collars are in hot pursuit of what appears to be a giant bird, but they lose the trail when their sensitive ears pick up the fine tuning of Carl's hearing aid. Russell stops to go to the bathroom and happens upon a giant bird which he lures closer with a chocolate bar. He introduces the colorful creature to Carl and gives it the name Kevin. Kevin follows them as they continue their journey but runs off when they approach the silhouette of a man who calls out to them. However, they see that the man is nothing more than a trick of the eye caused by overlapping stones. They are then approached by a golden retriever with a red light on his collar. Russell tells him to sit and speak and is surprised when the dog answers, using the device on his collar. He tells them his name is Dug (Bob Peterson) and that he is a tracker looking for a bird, at which point Kevin tackles him. The foursome continue their journey, Carl begrudging the additional company. At one point, Kevin loudly calls out and is answered by smaller calls. Dug says that Kevin is calling to her babies and Russell realizes that Kevin is a girl.Meanwhile, the three dogs seen chasing the bird earlier have picked up the scent of Carl and Russell, who they nickname the mailman. The leader Alpha (Bob Peterson), a doberman pinscher, tells Beta (Delroy Lindo), a rottweiler, and Gamma (Jerome Ranft), a bulldog, that they must be vigilant and continue their search. His speaking device appears to be damaged, causing him to talk in a high pitch. Using the device on Gamma's collar, Alpha calls to Dug, who they'd sent on a false mission in order to get rid of him, but finds him in the company of the bird they'd been after. They soon track him down and come upon Carl and Russell, but Kevin has already run off. Instead, they choose to take Carl and Russell to their master. Entering a large gorge, Carl and Russell meet a large pack of dogs, all with high-tech collars on, before meeting their master -- who turns out to be none other than an elderly Charles Muntz.Muntz invites them into The Spirit of Adventure as guests, but his behavior soon turns hostile when he finds out that Russell has adopted a new pet bird. Carl is shocked to see that Muntz has spent all the past years hunting for the bird which he was deemed a fraud for and has gone mad as a result. Muntz reveals a table of head mannequins wearing various headgear and grimly knocks each one off with his cane as he describes the stories their wearers told him; claiming that each one was actually after his bird. Carl and Russell run away from the zeppelin just as Muntz discovers the bird calling out from the roof of Carl's home. Riding on Kevin's back and assisted by Dug, who calls Carl his new master, they barely escape capture by Muntz's dogs, though Kevin is injured in the process. Carl agrees to help Kevin get back to her babies safely but, just before Kevin can re-enter her labyrinth home, a net flies out and captures her. Muntz and his dogs have arrived in the zeppelin, led to the spot by a tracking device on Dug's collar. Muntz throws a lantern beneath Carl's home, setting fire to it. Carl ignores Kevin and runs over to extinguish the flames as Muntz takes Kevin on board and leaves. Angry and disheartened, Carl yells at Dug and tells Russell that he's taking his home to Paradise Falls if it kills him. He manages to set his house down on the Falls, but loses Russell's respect for leaving Kevin.Carl goes inside the house and sits down to look at Ellie's adventure book. Saddened that she never got to see the Falls, he is about to close it when he discovers added pictures near the end, documenting their life together. On the last page is a note
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March 27, 2012 at 07:16 AM