'Up': A Pixar-Style Lift, Pretty Much Guaranteed With visual magic, high-adventure excitement and an intelligent look at one of Hollywood's persistent taboos, Up isn't just good; it's among the groundbreaking studio's best. (Recommended)
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'Up': A Pixar-Style Lift, Pretty Much Guaranteed

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'Up': A Pixar-Style Lift, Pretty Much Guaranteed

Review

Movies

'Up': A Pixar-Style Lift, Pretty Much Guaranteed

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DAVID GREENE, host:

Now let's go to the movies. That computer animated powerhouse, Pixar, has had nine box office hits in a row, including "Wall-E," "Toy Story" and "Monsters Inc." Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan looks at the tenth Pixar offering, "Up."

KENNETH TURAN: "Up," Pixar's latest effort, is not only good, it's one of their best.

The credit goes to co-writers and directors Pete Docter and Bob Peterson. They came up with the idea of a cranky 78-year-old named Carl — voiced by Ed Asner — floating off to parts unknown when his house gets hoisted into the air by exactly 20,622 helium balloons.

Also along for the ride is a pesky eight-year-old who stows away.

(Soundbite of movie, "Up")

Mr. JORDAN NAGAI (Actor): (as Russell) I don't want to walk anymore. Can we stop?

Mr. EDWARD ASNER (Actor): (as Carl Fredicksen) Russell, if you don't hurry up, the tigers will eat you.

Mr. NAGAI: (as Russell) There's no tigers in South America. Zoology.

Mr. ASNER: (as Carl) Ah, for the love of - go on into the bushes and do your business.

Mr. NAGAI: (as Russell) Okay, here, hold my stuff.

TURAN: 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.

There's also the wordless visual magic of that floating balloon-powered house, as well as a genuinely wacky sense of humor involving 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.

(Soundbite of movie, "Up")

Mr. ASNER: (as Carl) So you want to assist an old person?

Mr. NAGAI: (as Russell) Yep, then I'll be a senior wilderness explorer.

TURAN: 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…

(Soundbite of movie, "Up")

Mr. ASNER: (as Carl) Slow down.

Mr. NAGAI: (as Russell) What large 12?

Mr. ASNER: (as Carl) Kid…

Mr. NAGAI: (as Russell) Are you in need of any assistance…

Mr. ASNER: (as Carl) Thank you, but I don't need any help.

TURAN: …but still manages to be a hero when it counts.

"Up"'s multi-minute montage of the long married life of Carl and his wife Ellie is a small gem, and one that will stay with you for a lifetime. If parts of "Up" don't bring a tear to your eye, I just don't want to hear about it.

(Soundbite of music)

GREENE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and also the Los Angeles Times, and we review more movies, including the Oscar winning Japanese film "Departures," at npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Hey, David Greene makes his departure from our studios today. Renee's back on Monday. But David, we'll be listening for your reports from the road, and thanks for coming by.

GREENE: It was good to be here, Steve.

INSKEEP: Great.

GREENE: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. As you told everyone, I'm David Greene.

INSKEEP: And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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