Up
PG
Entertainment: +4
Acceptability: +3

Voices of Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai, Christopher Plummer, John Ratzenberger. Family animated comedy adventure. Written and directed by Pete Docter, and Bob Peterson.

FILM SYNOPSIS: This comedy adventure concerns 78-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen, who finally fulfills his lifelong dream of a great adventure when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to the wilds of South America.  But he discovers all too late that his biggest nightmare has stowed away on the trip:  an overly optimistic 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell.  Together, the boy and the old man journey into a lost world.  Up will be presented in Disney Digital 3-D in select theaters.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Biggest surprise of the year, Up is charming, funny, touching and creative. So far, this animated film is the best picture of the year.

Charming: The film begins with two children discovering that they are soul-mates and wannabe explorers. Spring ahead, they marry and share a wonderful life. But before they can finally go off to explore, life gets in the way. The house needs repair. He breaks his leg. She gets pregnant. All the while they are having a great adventure, two people sharing a life. But the film doesn’t just share cotton candy moments. As in life, the couple has their share of troubles. We see their joy at learning they will have a baby, only to lose the child at birth. Later, after a full life, the woman passes on. “Phil, is this appropriate for children?” Though these are tearful moments, they are adroitly handled, giving the story and characterizations depth and feeling. There’s so much wit and heart to this production – that’s the type of film I would think enriches little ones as well as accompanying loved ones.

Funny: Here, the humor is derived from human conditions rather than coarseness or adolescent buffoonery. An old man, set in his ways, suddenly has to share a road trip (make that, balloon trip) with an energetic youngster, finally discovering that this youngster has given him a new lease on life. Both young and old should find plenty of sight gags and witty dialogue to amuse.

Touching: I teared up once, okay, twice, and was happy to do so as the production was never maudlin or phony. It makes you feel emotions, it doesn’t just numb you like most action adventures. These are characters, the old man, his wife and the little boy, who have endured life tragedies and still found hope and happiness along life’s journey. You’ll wish the film was longer.

Creative: Usually impossible situations and illogical premises drive me nuts. But this gem of a parable is filled with symbolism and uses implausible circumstance (like a house propelled by thousands of balloons) to stretch the imagination of both young and old.

I actually wasn’t expecting much from this film, due to the trailers I’d seen. But I should have known better. Disney and Pixar put story first. Creative story. Then they match that with interesting characters and just-right voice characterizations. And just before completion, they ask themselves, how can we make it even better? Then they do.

Special notes: The Old man looks like Spencer Tracy in his last years (Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner). Could this be an homage? Also, composer Michael Giacchino deserves Oscar attention. And this film should not be relegated to just Best Animated Film come Oscar time. It should be remembered in the Best Picture category, as well.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Disney/Pixar

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: None
Violence: Exciting derring do adventure, with our explorers facing death-defying experiences several times; but these situations are quickly followed by comic relief and will most likely not be disturbing to most children.
Blood: Accidentally, the old man hits a construction worker with his cane, a spot of blood forming on the man’s forehead. Carl regrets the action, but has to pay a price for his violent deed. That’s a positive message to kids: there’s a price to pay for such acts.

Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: None
Other: I never say “go see this film.” My guide is designed to be a tool. Given the synopsis and content, you can decide if a new release is suitable for your family. I will say, however, this is what movies should be about: substance. It touches the heartstrings as well as the funny bone.
Running Time: 98 minutes
Intended Audience: Truly for the whole family

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