Up, the latest effort from digital-animation giant Pixar, isn't just good. It's one of the studio's best.
The credit goes to co-writers and directors Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, who came up with the idea of a cranky 78-year-old named Carl — voiced by Ed Asner — who floats off to parts unknown when his house gets hoisted into the air by exactly 20,622 helium balloons.
Also along for the ride: a pesky 8-year-old who stows away.
Because Up is a Pixar film, it's of course clever and playful. It also has the high excitement of an adventure story, and enough menace to make it only the second Pixar film to be rated PG instead of G. (The other was The Incredibles, with its superhero-themed action violence.)
The wordless visual magic of that floating balloon-powered house is paired with a genuinely wacky sense of humor that will have you laughing helplessly at the antics of a pack of dogs equipped with collars that turn their canine thoughts into words.
As if all this wasn't enough, Up also generates genuine emotion by dealing unapologetically with one of Hollywood's last and most persistent taboos: old people. Instead of a Clint Eastwood-type senior citizen who is fitter than people half his age, Up gives us a man who uses a walker and can't handle stairs — but who still manages to be a hero when it counts.
Up's opening multi-minute montage, which frames the long married life of Carl and his wife Ellie, is a small gem, and one that will stay with you for a lifetime. In fact, if parts of Up don't bring a tear to your eye, I just don't want to hear about it.