UP is possibly the shortest name for a film since X, but we're not talking about Spike Lee's film on Malcolm X, the first X-Men movie, the X-Files or even the similarity of illiterate people's signatures. We're talking about UP, Pixar's latest Best Animated Film Oscar in the wake of "WAAAALLLLL-E" - pretty irritating after a while. If you've ever thought you could fly without smoke or mirrors, you should watch this movie.
It's a must-see, as are all of Pixar's films, with the exception of Cars. The film traces an old geezer in a similar state to Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, with a walking stick instead of a shotgun and without the Dirty Harry demeanor. He's all tapped out and trapped in what used to be a leafy green, white picket fence piece of American suburbia. Now that the high rise buildings have taken all his sunlight, he's waiting for the mortal coil to park off on his doorstep, without being shipped off to the Shady Oaks retirement institution. Instead of Death, it's Russell, a little Asian boy scout (or cub) that comes a-knocking on Carl's door. Now he isn't there to do odd jobs as if he got caught trying to jack the old man's Gran Torino. He's just there to assist an old-timer to get his last badge and become a Senior Scout (When does it end? General? President?). The two get ensnared in a high-flying adventure as Carl takes the house out for a bit of fresh air.
Writer-director, Pete Docter is best known for Monsters Inc. and is assisted by Pixar-regular Bob Peterson in bringing this imaginative, heartwarming and original story to life. It's still uncertain whether the main character's father-son relationship was just a coincidence or if Eastwood drew his guns faster than Pixar in putting the ole Karate Kid switcheroo to screen. The voice cast isn't simply an A-list celebrity shopping list like Dreamworks did for Shark Tale. Instead Pixar like to leave the red carpet tongues wagging in favour of lesser known names like: TV regular Edward Asner, The Insider's Christopher Plummer and some kid called Jordan Nagai... beats me!?
As per usual, the animation is top-notch in the realm of WALL-E and Ratatouille... (shame Pixar, it must be lonely at the top). The new kid on the block is 3D, I forget what the abbreviation stands for and everything seems to be gravitating towards this difficult-to-explain technology that makes things jump off the screen like those pop-up picture books from our childhood (You didn't get one? Have a word with Mom and Pops). The Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana (Disney's poster kids) have already exploited their live concerts to the tweens, by forcing their parents to send them in with brat packs so that they don't get hurt in the mosh pit of the real concert. Documentaries like Monsters of the Deep and live-action horrors like Journey to the Centre of the Earth (come on, forget Jurassic Park, they had dinosaurs below the Earth's crust), Scar and My Bloody Valentine were fun and gimmicky, but the concept has definitely taken to the wind and not just because of UP.
Now wearing dark glasses in the cinema is cool again with the advent of those one-size-fits-all pair of 3D glasses. The visuals are that much more on your face (remember CRAM) and thankfully Pixar has the class to tone things down a bit. Instead of getting the audience to duck, they've made their film's environment more tangible - inviting viewers to feel like they're a part of the action instead of simply throwing things at them.
Carl's own glasses are a few generations out of style, but still have their place in the cinema - giving audiences another feature to identify with... not being out of style, he's got glasses, you've got glasses etc. Pixar always packs a punch when it comes to comedy and UP is no different. The script is refined to the point that you couldn't nitpick any of the dialogue to make it smoother. Entertainment generally caters for human error, because it makes the show more interactive, more intense and more exciting and this is one of those movies that's so finely-crafted, that its near-perfection almost becomes a weakness.
The visuals are mesmerising, the story is captivating, the comedy is sharp, the world is imaginative, while the music and voice talents are spot-on. What makes UP even more amazing is that it cuts across all ages. It's a clean movie that doesn't rely on smut, fart jokes, violence or any other "refined" Hollywood elements. Imagine the heart behind Danny Deckchair, the drama behind Gran Torino, the imagination behind Horton Hears A Who!, the comedy behind The Incredibles and the animation behind WALL-E and you've got UP... It's definitely worth seeing in 3D - just go to the late show to avoid tripping over toddlers, hearing the whole story from the party of kids seeing it for the second time or bumping into your friends.
Family-friendly films always get bad-mouthed from adults, who are too afraid to confront their fears and believe in cartoons like Tinkerbell... just clap dammit! However, UP is in the same league as The Incredibles, Ratatouille and WALL-E, all films that transcend all ages, which is why they are rated so highly on sites like IMDB. Whether you're a pre-pubescent Asian scout or an old, Zeppelin-generation American trading in helium balloons, UP is a must-see. You'll laugh, you'll sob... and you know what, you'll even feel good when you leave the cinema... all in all, a great time at the movies.
The bottom line: Extraordinary.