Peter Docter, Bob Petersen
You know any movie that stars a grumpy old man and a chubby Asian Boy Scout has to have some potential. Up defies labels and spans all demographics. It is for those who seek entry into a different world, a world that only the minds of Pixar/Disney can create. As director and co-writer Peter Docter (WALL-E) admitted in an interview, “The initial kernel was based on that desire that I feel a lot to escape the world.”
Up is one of those movies one can not dismiss simply because it is animated and not live-action. The character designs are memorable and effective. When we are first introduced to Carl, the surly curmudgeon, we are presented with your average GOM (Grumpy Old Man). This exterior belies a sensitive soul still not recovered from the death of his wife.
Carl is accompanied by an overzealous young boy, Russell, whose mission is to claim the badge for “Assisting the Elderly” in order to become a Senior Wilderness Explorer. The two end up on an escapade via Carl’s airborne house, which is carried along by a mass of helium balloons. The unlikely crew is finished off with an overweight talking dog named Dug and an exotic South American bird affectionately known as “Kevin.”
We are presented with a poignant scene after Carl is forced to choose between saving Kevin and fulfilling his late wife’s wishes to plant his house near Paradise Falls. Morale in the group is low and Carl ends up pulling his house along by himself. The camera cuts to a lone silhouette against a violet sky, inching along. What Carl misses most after his wife’s death is not so much love as a human connection.
This human connection is the stitching behind the tale. Up refuses to sugarcoat Carl’s loneliness and does not shy away from discussions of death. This truly makes Up an incredible film that young and old will relish.