by Elaine Hegwood Bowen
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Up is a delightful animated film from Pixar that’s great fun for both young and old alike. Edward Asner is the voice behind Carl Frederickson, who’s lived a long life—nearly 80 years old.
Carl married the girl of his dreams, Ellie, or at least the one girl who shared his adventurous spirit. They meet by chance as Carl was hyped Up on the adventures of a veteran aviator and explorer named Charles Muntz, voiced by Christopher Plummer, and as he’s skipping home imagining how he can live out his own dreams and adventures, he stops by Ellie’s house. After that point, they are inseparable. Carl and Ellie carve out a life filled with great joy but with some unfortunate surprises. Pixar manages to cover some of the adult themes in the movie that include miscarriage, ill health and the eventual death of Ellie in such a gentle, straightforward manner that you wonder how such heavy themes can be played out so easily.
The relationship that the couple share is so touching, gentle and sweet, as you watch the two of them age throughout the decades. The years after marriage are developed in less than five minutes of screen time and with no words exchanged between the two. Instead it’s scene after scene of the couple enjoying life, camping out, Ellie choosing Carl’s ties for work, both of them growing older, etc. Pixar animation is brilliant, even to the most intricate details like the gold wedding band that Carl wears.
Before Ellie dies, however, she shares her “adventure book” with Carl, which encourages him to fulfill one of their unmet dreams—that of traveling to Paradise Falls in South America.
Carl decides to embark on the odyssey to travel to Paradise Falls, in order to at least live out a dream that he had promised his dear, dear Ellie. Carl (Mr. Frederickson) and Russell travel in Carl’s house, which is being powered by thousands of brightly colored balloons.
The trailers for Up with the colorful balloons attached to the house do well to advertise what turns out to be an even more colorful, exciting movie about a man who, though he had lived life well, discovered that there was still much life left to explore and a young boy who just desired some real purpose in life and the love of a father figure who would do most anything to ensure his safety and well-being.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.
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