Editors' pick

Up

MPAA rating: PG
Genre: Animated
In Pixar's latest, a 78-year-old man ties thousands of balloons to his house in order to fulfill a dream of seeing South America, only to find that a young Wilderness Explorer accidentally joined him on the trip.
Starring: Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai, Christopher Plummer, John Ratzenberger
Director: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
Running time: 1:38
Release: Opened May 29, 2009
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Editorial Review

There's a famous dictum in Hollywood, a well-worn diplomatic way of handling what to say to filmmakers after they've delivered a dog of a film: "Well, you've done it again!"

Pixar has done it again, in every best way possible. "Up," the company's first foray into 3-D animation, hews brilliantly to the aesthetic and narrative values audiences have come to expect from the artists who brought forth such classics as "Toy Story" and "Finding Nemo." In adding 3-D to the mix, they use the technical innovation, not for visual stunts or "watch out!" moments, but to add another layer of depth and texture. The result is a soaring, touching, funny and altogether buoyant movie that lives up to its title in spirit and in form.

Ed Asner provides the voice behind Carl Fredricksen, a boxily built curmudgeon (and Spencer Tracy look-alike) who decides to fly his house to South America by way of a bunch of balloons. Newcomer Jordan Nagai voices the young Wilderness Explorer Russell, who comes along for the ride, to Carl's initial consternation and eventual comfort. Among "Up's" myriad pleasures is watching this inter-generational friendship bloom, at a time when pop culture seems to be dominated by snarky 'tween-centric sensibilities.

Kids will howl at the creatures Russell and Carl meet on their adventure, including a brightly plumed bird named Kevin, a dimwitted but lovable dog named Dug and a fierce-looking Doberman with a voice that evokes one of Alvin's chipmunks. Adults will appreciate the finer things in "Up," including a sublime prologue limning the hopes and heartbreaks of Carl's life, a passage worthy of Chaplin in its heartbreaking poignancy.

-- Ann Hornaday (May 29, 2009)

Contains peril and action.