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Up - Film Review

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by Chrystal Byrne (subscribe)
Freelance writer living on Brisbane's north side. Studied creative industries - currently studying library and information services.
Published August 29th 2013
The Fantastic Family Film
Young Carl Fredricksen is a quiet, awkward boy who idolises renowned (and recently defamed) explorer Charles F. Muntz; of course, Carl dreams of becoming an adventurer too – re-establishing and recreating Muntz' courageous (but discredited) journey to Paradise Falls, Venezuela. When Carl meets the loud and colourful Ellie, an enthusiastic Muntz fan herself, a great friendship begins. Ellie allows Carl to share her 'clubhouse'; an abandoned dwelling within their neighbourhood; and expresses her keen desire to one day relocate the house to a cliff overlooking the legendary Paradise Falls – extracting a promise from Carl to help her.

Carl and Ellie grow up, fall in love, get married and grow old together in the restored house that was once their childhood hideaway. Carl becomes a balloon vendor, whilst Ellie works as a zookeeper. Unable to have children of their own, Carl and Ellie make a savings jar labelled 'Paradise Falls' in order to fulfil their shared childhood dream - but something always pops up that requires the funds instead. In old age, Carl finally arranges the long-awaited dream expedition, but Ellie falls suddenly ill and passes away in hospital, leaving Carl alone.

Time passes and Carl still lives in the cherished home that he shared with his beloved Ellie. Urban development has sprung up around him, but Carl refuses to sell his home to the big-time developers. After Carl; grumpy and introverted from loneliness; unintentionally injures a construction worker over damage to his mailbox, he receives a court order displacing him to a retirement home. However, Carl hatches a plan to honour his age-old promise to Ellie – transforming their house into a rough-and-ready airship, using thousands of helium balloons, headed towards Paradise Falls.

Up 2009
Up (2009) Film Poster - from Wikipedia.

Carl quickly realises that it's not all smooth sailing (so to speak). Not long after 'take off' Carl learns that he is not alone, and Russell joins the story; a young Wilderness Explorer (a fictional scouting organisation) who becomes an accidental passenger on the airship in his effort to earn his final scouts badge – a badge for assisting the elderly. Carl reluctantly allows Russell to accompany him, knowing that he has no other choice, and the pair drift ever closer towards Paradise Falls – losing balloons, and height, along the way.

After a testing thunderstorm, the house touches down on an area of solid ground – on the opposite end to the rock face overlooking Paradise Falls, with a gaping chasm in between. Carl determinedly decides to drag the house, with the help of the few helium balloons left, from one side of the ravine to the other – which is when Carl's adventure truly begins.

Up 2009
Up (2009) Promotional Image.

Up (2009) is a computer animated comedy-adventure family film produced by Pixar Animation Studios, distributed by both Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios; Disney Pixar; and directed by Pete Docter. Up features the voices of Edward Asner as cranky Carl Fredricksen, Jordan Nagai as young Russell, Christopher Plummer as ex-adventurer Charles F. Muntz, and Bob Peterson as the misfit Golden Retriever, Dug.

Up is a fantastic family film depicting valuable notions of love, family, friendship and loyalty within the setting of comedy and adventure. People of all ages will be able to relate to Up; sad and happy moments, talking dogs, an old man and a young boy coming together and learning off each other, the whole good vs. evil storyline, funny scenes and great characters. Now, I'm a terrible sucker for all things heartfelt and heart-breaking – and let me tell you – the opening montage of Up is one of the most beautiful, saddening, heart-wrenching and perfect stories I have ever seen; the perfect little story within a story.

The opening montage sets the scene for the character of Carl Fredricksen. It shows him as a young boy meeting Ellie, then progresses through their charming love story and their lives together – right up until the very end, when Ellie passes away. It is there to show viewers the life that Carl led; the person he was; before he lost the love of his life. This little story aims to give foundation to the persona that Carl now communicates. The montage has no dialogue, just sweet and sorrowful background music, and although it is only a couple of minutes long, I challenge you to try and watch it without getting teary-eyed or broken-hearted. The first time I beheld Up's opening medley – I have no qualms in saying that I balled my eyes out in a torrent of mixed emotion. Envy, desire and longing for the perfect love of Carl and Ellie, and heartbreak, despair and deep unhappiness at their separation through the death of Ellie.

Up 2009
The gang.


Up won two awards at the 82nd Academy Awards: Best Animated Picture and Academy Award for Best Original Score. At the 67th Golden Globe Awards, Up won the Best Original Score and Best Animated Feature Film awards. Up also received the Golden Tomato from Rotten Tomatoes for the highest rating feature in 2009, and was nominated for nine Annie Awards in eight categories, winning awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Directing in a Feature Production.


Up has received outstanding reviews from critics. It currently holds an amazing 98% certified 'fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 278 reviews, with an average score of 8.6/10. The site's consensus reads: "Another masterful work of art from Pixar, Up is an exciting, hilarious, and heartfelt adventure impeccably crafted and told with wit and depth." On Metacritic, Up holds a score of 88 out of 100, based on 37 reviews, and has an 8.8 user score of favourable reviews, based on 690 ratings.

Up 2009
My personal copy of Disney Pixar's Up (2009).

So if you're looking for a fantastic film for the whole family, look no further than Up (2009). It's a great bellyful of laughs; lessons on love, friendship and loyalty; and it represents the greatest adventure of all – life.

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Why? Because you like great family films.
When: Now.
Where: In the comfort of your own home.
Cost: The cost to rent/buy the DVD.
Your Comment
I love the beginning of this film, but I lose interest once Carl reaches Venezuela; it loses all credibility for me.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12604) 2578 days ago
This is such a cute movie...I remember loving it.
by Katy Holliday (score: 3|1133) 2577 days ago
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