Up (Doctor, Peterson, 2009)


Pixar has seemingly tapped into an endless well of wonderful variants on the subject of adventure, and they often create these fascinating worlds through seamless detail and nuance. Their latest film Up dares to turn off course from the typical Pixar mold to entertain ideas and themes as grand and complex as the South American jungle its character traverse, all while staying true to the company’s cinematic quality of character and scenario. With Carl, a rejuvenated elderly man and Russell, a fatherless cub scout, co-directors Pete Doctor and Bob Peterson construct a brilliant and layered relationship between kindred souls generations apart, connected by a sublime longing for something greater than themselves. After a heart-wrenching prologue just as character-driven and stunning as WALL•E’s, Carl takes flight in his house supported by thousands of colorful balloons, floating pointedly through a nameless city with verve and conviction as a number of onlookers revel in the purity of the vision. Up then takes Carl and Russell into a staggeringly focused exotic world where time and place stand still, where the majesty of the green foliage, the charm of colorful birds, and the emotion of talking dogs represent a wondrous home away from home. If WALL•E represents a key shift for Pixar toward socially conscious master filmmaking, Up appears to be a throwback to the serials that inspired Spielberg and Lucas. But with its surprising darkness and whimsy, Up becomes so much more than an exciting adventure yarn. The endearing end credits prove what the entire film has been building toward – that clarity of purpose only gets you so far if your intentions are tainted by selfishness. Those with pure of heart end up experiencing the most rewarding adventures of all.