| Those of us who grew up in the 1950s have fond memories of our parents taking us to see the latest Walt Disney movie magically light up the screen. Now you have the chance to reciprocate by taking your parents, oldest living relative or a stranger from a nearby retirement community to this animated film that will especially appeal to senior citizens.
The hero of the movie is Carl Fredricksen (the voice of Kansas City, Kan., native and Wyandotte High grad Ed Asner), a 78-year-old retired balloon salesman. His chief rival is Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer), a world-class adventurer now in his mid-90s who Carl idolized in his childhood.
This bittersweet tale of growing old written by Bob Peterson ("Finding Nemo" and "Ratatouille"), who also co-directed with Peter Docter ("Monsters, Inc."), opens with a black-and-white newsreel about the latest skeletal monster discovered by the great explorer Muntz. His critics declare him a fraud.
Muntz takes off in his huge flying blimp and vows to come back someday with the rare beast alive. A shy, bespectacled Carl from the bygone days of his youth meets an outgoing girl named Ellie. They form an exclusive club for curiosity-seeking explorers. Their motto is "adventure is out there." They make a "cross your heart" promise to each other that they will travel to Paradise Falls in South America for the greatest adventure of their lives.
She shares with Carl her secret adventure scrapbook, which plays a key role in the movie.
A silent montage with just music playing in the background gives you a snapshot of the five decades they spent together in marital bliss. This is the one of many highlights and will bring you to tears.
The main story picks up with an alarm clock going off at 6 a.m. The white-haired Carl lives alone and uses a walker. His oversized head is dominated by heavy-rimmed black glasses, bushy white eyebrows, a bulbous nose and a square jaw. Carl is outwardly portrayed as a rough-around-the-edges curmudgeon, but inside he is a kindly, warm and caring individual.
As he sits on his porch, you will notice construction projects all around him. The real estate developers want to buy his property and tear down his house.
Russell (newcomer Jordan Nagai), an overly optimistic and chubby 8-year-old, appears at his doorstep. He needs to earn the assisting-the-elderly badge to obtain the senior rank in the Wilderness Explorers, an organization that resembles The Boy Scouts.
He asks Carl if there is anything he can do to help him out. Carl sends him on a fool's errand.
Carl gets in an altercation with a construction worker after his mailbox is accidentally damaged by a bulldozer. He is declared a public menace, evicted from his residence and ordered to move to the Shady Oaks retirement home. Carl foils this decree by unleashing thousands of colorful helium-filled balloons attached by strings running down his chimney to the fireplace. His house literally becomes airborne and floats away in another memorable signature Disney moment.
All dreams seem possible as the house soars above the clouds. An unexpected event occurs right after takeoff. There is a knock at his front door and Carl finds Russell on his porch. The movie switches gears to a lighter tone at this midway point and turns into a more conventional cartoon adventure.
The house miraculously ends up at Paradise Falls. Surprising and amusing adventures follow.
This sweet and endearing movie gets under your skin. It points out that the quiet times in life are the ones that we remember the most.
The movie is consistently funny. The one constant delight is a lovely musical score by composer Michael Giacchino ("Ratatouille," "The Incredibles" and "Lost"). This family-friendly crowd-pleaser with some nail-biting cliffhanger escapes clocks in at 96 minutes. Be sure to stay through the end credits to get a glimpse of the new photos added to Ellie's adventure scrapbook.
The movie's major strengths are in the technical categories. The movements of the characters by the talented artists behind the scenes are realistic. The animation and scenic backgrounds are expertly rendered and deserve top drawer stamps of approval. The vocal work is impressive with the highest praise going to Asner for his succinct and distinguished line delivery. They should create a new category for this year's Academy Award for Best Vocal Acting in an animated film and name Asner as the first recipient.
"Up" gained the distinction of being the first animated movie to ever open the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. This highly-praised critic's delight is the early frontrunner to follow in the footsteps of "WALL●E" and win the Oscar for best animated movie.
The Disney Digital 3D version of "Up" at a slightly higher admission price is available in Johnson County at AMC Town Center 20, Cinemark Merriam, Dickinson Palazzo 16 and Dickinson Westglen 18.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"