To me, “Disney/Pixar Presents” is a seal of quality. There has not yet been a film under their name that I haven’t enjoyed. If you ignore A Bug’s Life, there has not yet been a film under their name I haven’t found near-flawless. This is, in a way, a bad thing though – every time I’m about to watch their newest release, I have this small feeling of dread – their films often have premises which, with any other producer, would probably be absolutely terrible. Up was no different – an old man in a floating house?!
But… it worked. Once again, Pixar took a frankly stupid premise and turned it into a gem. I’m going to say this was their best film – it wasn’t (WALL-E still holds that trophy to me, with the critically shunned Cars a close second), but it was still a brilliant film.
The plot goes like this – Carl Fredricksen is an old chap living in a small bungalow, which holds memories of his passed love. Her passing is covered at the start of the film with a sequence which summarises their relationship from childhood to pensionerhood (if that’s a word). Now, his district is being plowed down to make way for a city-like area. Unwilling to lose his house and be taken into care, he purchases thousands of balloons which result in the entire building, with him inside, taking off. Of course, to give the film a little character drama, a young scout happens to have been on his doorstep as the balloons were released. Most of the film sees him using home-made curtain wings to direct the house towards Paradise Falls, a place his lover had always told him she wanted to go.
Of course, no Pixar film would be without a villain. Up’s comes in the shape of a multiple dog-owning famous hunter called Muntz. Though initially friendly to Fredricksen, Muntz turns hostile when he begins to think the pensioner is after a large, unique bird Muntz is looking for to restore his diminished, senile reputation.
A lot of the comedy comes from the fact Muntz’s dogs are wearing collars which translate their incomprehensible woofs into understandable English words, and that this allows them to chat and bicker as humans would. Muntz’s target bird is also used for laughs – it finds Fredricksen and the boy scout and has some cartoonish characteristics such as a liking of chocolate.
It’s a smashing film. As said before, I prefer some of Pixar’s older efforts to Up, but am in no way disappointed. They seem to constantly hit brilliant comedic notes and blend them perfectly with clever storylines and, of course, the necessary, cheesy endings. This film can be considered highly recommended, though if you need further convincing, here’s a trailer for it.