When a movie, and a computer-animated one at that, draws tears within its first fifteen minutes, you know you’re in for something truly special. Marrying delectable storytelling with the most beautifully rendered of pixels and vectors, Pixar has done it again with its latest offering — Up — a moving tale about friendship and adventure between the unlikeliest pair.
Brimming with childlike wonder, adventure and humor yet offering heartfelt life lessons, Up follows the story of 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen, who grows increasingly cranky and lonesome as he mourns the death of his beloved wife Ellie. When real estate developers circle in on his home, he is faced with the undignified prospect of having to move into a retirement home. This motivates him to fulfil the lifelong dream he shared with his late wife — to journey to the great outback of South America and set up home over the majestic Paradise Falls. And his passport? A colossal bunch of helium balloons.
The only snag is that he’s got himself a stowaway, an inadvertent travelling companion in the form of a boy scout named Russell, who is on a mission of his own — to assist an elderly person in order to get his final merit badge.
Accompanied by the spot-on voice talents of Edward Asner as Carl and seven-year-old Japanese-American Jordan Nagai as Russell, Up is the perfect example of why Pixar films are a cut above the rest. Besides providing solid entertainment, they teach us a thing or two about what it means to be human. The characters resonate with our own insecurities of loss, loneliness, and the fear that we’ve missed out on the best that life has to offer. At the end of it, there’s a beautifully wrought moment of epiphany for Carl that tidily sums up the message of the whole story.
Up is the movie to catch this season, whether or not you are past the age of believing that helium balloons really can float a house. Tip: don’t be late for the show, or you’ll miss out on a whimsical treat screened just before it.