Up is probably the best movie Pixar has made since Toy Story. It isn’t the sort of game-changing breakthrough that Toy Story was in its day, but it is a solid, workman-like piece of storytelling that hits all the marks it aims at. It is funny, heart-warming and technically excellent, one of the best American animated films of the last ten years. If it doesn’t win this year’s animation Oscar I will be very surprised.
Carl Fredricksen (Edward Asner) is an old man who has spent his life dreaming of adventure. In particular he wanted to go off to the mysterious land of Paradise Falls in South America to search for the legendary explorer Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer). However life got in the way and he never got around to it. Now his home is about to be razed for an urban renewal project and the authorities are about to bundle him off to a nursing home.
So he ties thousands of balloons to his house, rigs up a primitive steering system and takes off for South America. Too late he discovers that a little boy named Russell (Jordan Nagai), who has been trying to earn a merit badge in Helping the Elderly, has stowed away under his porch. Neither of them imagines the surprises that await when they finally reach Paradise Falls.
Some of the younger members of the audience seemed restless. This is probably best suited for ages 10 and up; probably a 5 year old would find much of it difficult to follow. It is not particularly scary by the standards of recent animated films. Certainly there’s nothing nearly as nightmare-inducing as the climax of Toy Story. Many people have remarked on how sad the opening sequence is, but I think it is the sort of thing that seems sad to adults and tends to go over the heads of children.