"Features moments of genuine heart-wrenching tenderness"

Up is the 10th feature from animation powerhouse Pixar and it delivers on a grand scale, blending delirious excitement, joy, fun and enough jokes to keep all age levels entertained.  It also features moments of genuine heart-wrenching tenderness with the most moving 20 minutes of any animation ever made.  

Karl Fredrickson (Edward Asner) is a 78 year old widower, living alone childless after the death of his beloved wife.   He and his wife had always dreamed of travelling to Paradise Falls and were captivated as children by tales of daring exploits by the intrepid explorer, Charles Muntz.  As Karl nears the end of his life, he realises he never really completed all the adventures that he planned – life just got in the way.   Now with a real estate company pressuring him to sell his house and move into a nursing home, he decides that he’s had enough and attaches thousands of balloons to his house with the intention of flying away to Paradise Falls.  Unbeknownst to him, he has a stowaway: a persistent and impetuous Wilderness Explorer named Russell (Jordan Nagai). 

Initially irritated by Russell but soon realising that he has to put up with him, Karl eventually mellows and they develop a friendship which grows over the course of the next sixty minutes, as they encounter mythical lost birds, talking dogs and an old explorer (Christopher Plummer) who may not be what he seems.

It’s terrifically good fun; Karl and Russell’s adventures offer scrapes and surprises a plenty and the sheer strength of the writing shines through.  From talking dogs in bi-planes (dogfighters naturally) to 13-foot tropical birds and a flying house, there are so many inventive and original ideas thrown into the mix, that you simply won’t have time to be bored and you’ll be left wide-eyed with wonder for whole portions of the film.  The colours and details are also incredible; huge leaps forward in technology have been made since Pixar’s first film, Toy Story in 1995 and Up is a vibrant kaleidoscope of brilliant colour which has to be seen to be believed. Even the number of balloons attached to Karl’s house is visually impressive, let alone the more complicated action sequences which follow.

It’s not all spectacle and wonder though; Up has an awareness of mortality and a melancholy undertone which hadn’t previously been realised in a Disney film and it’s a brave decision to include a portrayal of death in what is essentially a movie aimed at children.  The result pays off in huge dividends; it’s a fun and accessible family animation with a heart and soul that is incredibly hard to achieve and it’s an absolute triumph.

Up is quite simply a masterpiece:  visually stunning, imaginatively written and well balanced, full of memorable characters, sublime animation and an emotional punch bigger than anything seen before in a Disney film which makes it one of Pixar’s crowning achievements. An absolute must see for this year.

Starring: Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai, Christopher Plummer