Movie Review – Up

Plot: After the death of his wife, old man Carl Fredricksen vows to fulfill his wife’s dream of living on top of a mystical mountain in South America.  Carl straps together hundreds of balloons in order for his house to fly to the continent.

Not Pixar’s best.  Up is okay.  It has some flashes of greatness, but it didn’t connect with me as much as some of Pixar’s other works like The Incredibles or Wall-E.  I like the movie, but I wasn’t blown away like every other critic in the country was.  It opens strong, but there were some yawns in the middle.  The characters and story were just kind of ‘meh.’  Maybe it’s because I’m comparing it to the previous Pixar picture Wall-E, which had a fantastic story, and the characters were amazing considering it was about a robot that was only capable of shouting his name in a really annoying way.  Don’t get me wrong though – there is plenty to like in Up.

Russell (voiced by Jordan Nagai) the wilderness scout who accompanies Carl on his journey was a pretty funny character.  I loved the close up shots of his facial expressions.  He’s so damn irritating and doesn’t shut up, yet he made me laugh because it was Carl he was annoying and not me.  One of the funniest jokes comes out of Carl thinking of tactful ways to quiet him.  The relationship Carl and Russell develop throughout the film is one of the best parts.  It’s the classic “Odd Couple” theme, but it’s played just right. 

Now the other character I want to mention is a dog…No, not the dog from all the commercials.  That was Dug (voiced by Bob Peterson) who was mildly entertaining.  The dog I’m talking about is a Doberman who’s one of the main villains.  One of the key elements of the movie is that all the dogs (and there are a lot of them) can talk through a special collar.  There a few jokes about the Doberman’s voice, but the best part about him is his dialogue.  He has the funniest lines by far. 

Unfortunately the character I was most disappointed with was actually Carl Fredricksen.  Maybe it was the previews, but I expected a cranky, funny, and spunky old man.  But he was only kind of cranky, kind of funny, and despite the fact that he tied hundreds of balloons to his house to make it float away, there really wasn’t much spunk to him.  Ed Asner does a fine job of voicing him and he’s very likable, but I was just under whelmed by the character.  He was supposed to be soft spoken I guess, but he could have been so much funnier.  He has some good moments such as a leaf blower incident in the beginning and some clever scenes with his walker but overall I wasn’t impressed.  Also the main villain (voiced by Christopher Plummer) was awful.  There was nothing there.  To be fair, they really wanted to focus more on the dogs as bad guys but he is still the main antagonist and he was just bland as hell.  Also his main obsession and driving force throughout the movie I won’t give away, but it’s not very interesting.

That’s how I felt about most of this movie.  The villain’s motives were boring as was Carl’s motives.  They were surrounded by clever and interesting ideas such as the balloons, but his goal to set up his house on this special mountain in South America…whatever.  The relationship between Carl and his wife Ellie (voiced by Elie Docter) was done exceptionally well in the beginning.  But as the movie went on, there was too much time spent on Carl reflecting on important objects from his past that involved his wife.  I understand it was crucial to Carl’s character and why he did the things he did, but every other line of dialogue was him mentioning his wife.  It was just too much.

Even with all my complaints, I did have a good time watching this film.  I definitely recommend seeing it.  All the scenes with the dogs are worth the price of admission.  Also as a little side note, there is this big blue bird and every time he made a noise it had me in stitches.  I don’t know why, but it’s absolutely one of the best birds to ever appear on film.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

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