Animated film (2009). Pixar/Walt Disney Pictures. Directed by Pete Docter. Written by Bob Peterson and Docter, based on a story by Docter, Peterson and Thomas McCarthy. Cast includes Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai and Christopher Plummer. 93 minutes. Colour.
A Lost World adventure with Steampunk flourishes, Up is most notable for containing two of the most effective tear-jerking scenes in cinema history. The first of these takes place at the outset of the film in an unforgettable montage that follows Carl Fredricksen (Asner) from childhood to marriage to miscarriage to middle-aged childless happiness to, finally, the death of his wife, Ellie. It is a bold opening to what is notionally a children's film but displays an emotional depth missing from most commercial cinema. This was reflected in the fact that as well as winning an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, Up was only the second ever animated film to be nominated for Best Picture itself.
All their life Carl and Eddie saved up to visit Paradise Falls, the South American mesa which captivated them as children, but she died before they could make the journey. Years later and faced with being forced into a home, Carl decides to float there by covering his house in helium balloons. It is only once he is airborne that he discovers a local boy scout, Russell (Nagai), has stowed away. This allows director Peter Docter to return to the surrogate family theme he previously explored with Monsters, Inc. as cantankerous Carl slowly thaws to his unwilling ward. As such, the science-fictional aspects of the plot – explorer Charles F Muntz (Plummer), assisted by an army of dogs who can talk using special collars, is hunting a previously unknown species of giant flightless bird – are of secondary importance. It is perhaps for this reason that despite winning the Oscar, it lost the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation to Moon (2009). The hapless Dug can, however, be added to the canon of great talking dogs in sf, alongside the similarly squirrel-obsessed Manchee from Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking, Book One: The Knife of Never Letting Go (2008). [ML]
see also: Cinema; Children's SF.
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