“Up,” the latest offering from the animation studio, offers up the wonderful, transporting story of an old man, a little boy, and the flying house that takes them down to South America. A first-class adventure story that will appeal to both kids and the kid hiding inside most adults, it’s also a gentle look at love, moving on from loss, and finding both adventure and family in the person right next to you.
As an adventure story, “Up” delivers a steady stream of “oh, how cool” moments. The flying house (complete with both wings and steering capabilities) seems straight out of some sort of collective imagination, but that still leaves plenty of room for pooches that fly airplanes, dangerous explorers, and chocolate-loving exotic birds, and collars that allow dogs to talk.
There’s delight, daring, and a healthy dose of danger, along with plenty of opportunities for heroics from both Carl and his accidental young stow-away, Russell. Thanks to these two, you’ll never look at either those leaf blowers or those walking canes with the tennis balls on the bottom the same way again.
On another level, “Up” also takes on love, death, grieving, loneliness, and finding both adventure and family in the person standing right next to you. The first 10 minutes of the movie offer a more subtle and touching love story than can be found in most romance films out these days, and the rest of the movie is full of subtle grace notes about dealing with grief and moving on with your life.
The movie can also be seen as a meditation on what it takes to live a full, rich life, accepting the fact that dreams can change, and how two lonely people can change each other’s lives. I’ve probably also missed a few – there’s enough emotional nuance for at least three or four films, but none of it feels either slapped on or rushed. Everything about the movie is as light and bright as one of Carl’s balloons, and even though I had tears in my eyes a few times I was smiling as I left the theater.
Though the movie is available in 3D in both Layton and at Gateway Mall in Salt Lake (for those who have been burned by 3D before, I assure you that nothing will be leaping out of the screen at you), “Up” proves to be just as delightfully entertaining in old-fashioned 2D. With this movie, the magic goes so much deeper than mere special effects.