The past few years, each new Pixar release has caused me to say "This is their best film yet!". I so don't want to begin this review with "Pixar does it again!" because that's become the standard slugline for reviews of Pixar films. So what do I do? UP is good. It's very good. It may be the studio's best film yet. They've done it again... damn it! They made me say it.
There is a section early in UP that shows us the life of a married couple without a single word of dialogue. It should be required viewing for any film student interested in learning how to give a viewer necessary information in an entertaining, visual way without resorting to verbal exposition. Like WALL·E before it, UP makes me suspect the Pixar folks have a ton of old silent comedies by in their private collections. They can also execute visual gags with the same perfect timing of Tex Avery, Chuck Jones and Hanna-Barbera in their Tom and Jerry days. Some gags go by in a flash, others get dragged out to the breaking point but never beyond it.
At the heart of UP is a sad story of a lonely old man (voiced by Ed Asner) who must live out the rest of his life alone without his beloved wife. They had always planned adventures together, but one thing or another always stopped them. Now, with his wife gone, his life has no adventure and little meaning. Without this emotional underpinning, UP would just be a silly movie where a lot of weird, unbelievable things. The film mixes elements of THE WIZARD OF OZ, THE ADVENTURES OF BARON VON MUNCHAUSEN, KING KONG, 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA and even, if we stretch, the Bond film A VIEW TO A KILL. It all works, because the old man's life has been set up for us so beautifully. In his waning years, he is due for adventure, and he gets it.
With ten features now
their belt, PIXAR has matched Disney's Golden and Silver Age
1950-59) in both quantity and quality. That's incredibly impressive in this age of disposable movies and unimaginative remakes, reboots, prequels and sequels. ½ - JB