Movie Review: ‘Up’

October 11, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015
(Walt Disney)
(Walt Disney)

How do they do it? Pixar keep producing such amazing, envelope-pushing, industry-benchmarking films.

Up is a return to the unconventional buddy comedy formula that has served Pixar so well before – see Toy Story, Finding Nemo or Ratatouille. It’s the uplifting story of one grumpy 78-year-old balloon salesman’s attempt to fulfil a lifelong dream of seeing the wilds of South America by tying thousands of helium-filled balloons to his home and floating there.

A wonderful fantastical adventure, Up is so good that it is arguably up there with The Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland. What sets it apart is its main character: here we’re not asked to identify with a precocious young whippersnapper but an ill-tempered, elderly pensioner. Tall order? Not for the genius minds at the best movie-making company on the planet.

It all begins with a 10-15 minute impossibly moving montage that takes the cantankerous Carl all the way from childhood to widowhood. It is more heartbreaking than watching Bambi lose her mother – seriously. Be warned, you will need tissues. Only the most impenetrable of hearts could fail to slip into Carl’s slippers and understand exactly the emotions he is going through.

But it doesn’t end there. Up is without doubt the most touching film in the Pixar canon, running through the full gamut of feelings right up until its heart-warming conclusion. You’ll need more tissues.

It’s also Pixar’s funniest film by far thanks to the cutest cartoon kid ever, a “talking” dog called Dug, some seriously witty repartee and some perfectly judged slapstick comedy.

Every Pixar production also achieves another technical milestone, this time incorporating the increasingly popular immersion experience of real 3D. There has been nothing more cinematically beautiful this year than Carl gracefully gliding through the bright blue sky in his balloon-house, its multicoloured gasbags casting a kaleidoscope of colour on everything it drifts past.

Funny, exciting and impossibly moving, there is more life and soul in this than most live action movies. So much, in fact, that after only a few minutes you forget you are watching pixels created in a computer as you are whisked away by an enchanting story, the promise of adventure and a sense of wonder that comes along only once a decade.