It takes a grown man to admit what I’m about to admit.
I almost cried watching Disney Pixar’s latest gem, “Up.” Almost cried like a freaking baby.
I wrote last year that “Wall•E” was about as close to perfect an animated movie can get, which is why I’m sitting here amazed that it’s been upstaged by a film starring Ed Asner, a fat Boy Scout and hundreds of talking dogs (OK, the dogs I would have expected to like).
Despite what the commercials for this film have told you, “Up” isn’t about an old man who’s fed up with the world and decides to tie balloons to his house and fly to South America. OK, so it kind of is about that … but “Up” is more about relationships, keeping promises and finding adventure in everyday life.
Before we ever meet the grumpy old Carl Fredrickson, we meet the young Carl … a boy obsessed with world famous adventurer Charles Muntz who makes friends with Ellie, a girl who’s equally obsessed with adventure.
Then the almost water works begin.
A three-minute music-only montage shows Carl and Ellie’s life together — a life of great joy and promise, but a life where the “little things” keep getting in the way of their goal to find Paradise Falls, the South American landscape where Muntz had his adventures. I won’t say what all happens in this three minutes, but I will say it’s heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once. If you love somebody (which I’m guessing all of you do), it’s hard not to be touched … and when it’s done, and we see a 70-plus Carl sitting in his chair, we’re waiting for something funny to happen so we can wipe away the almost tears.
Thankfully, “Up” is funny, too. Russell, the Boy Scout, and Kevin, the bird, have great interaction with Carl during his adventure. And, as a dog lover, I laughed hard at Dug, one of the hundreds of Muntz’s dogs who can speak English thanks to a specially built collar. As somebody who wishes his dogs could speak, this was particularly entertaining, especially since much of what Dug said is what my wife and I imagine our dogs say on a daily basis.
I won’t go into plot, because that’s what actually kept this from being a perfect movie. About two-thirds of the way in, it gets a little bogged down in the “chase” sequence I suppose every good adventure film needs, and when the dogs start flying airplanes, I suppose it gets just a tad ridiculous.
But it’s not enough to take away from the overall message — adventure is what you make of it … and even the “boring” times can be the most memorable moments in life if they’re spent with somebody you love. “Up” has life, love, death, humor, evil and talking dogs all rolled into one pleasantly terrific film.
My new favorite Pixar movie …. that says a lot.
9.5 out of 10