johnlink ranks UP (2009)

Just went on a whim and saw the last show of the night for UP in 3D. I went in a little unsure of what to expect. I purposely avoided seeing too much about the movie in advance, knowing that this strategy enhanced my first viewing of WALL-E. I know that I will enjoy a Pixar movie without fail. I figure the less I know the better.

If you haven’t seen UP, proceed with caution. I recommend the movie completely, and you might as well go in as blind as possible. Basically, it is the story of an aging would-be adventurer seeking out a far away spot for his home.

I watched UP (2009) on the big screen in 3D on 6.12.09. It was my first viewing.



What a wonderfully realized movie. I love WALL-E for everything it does, but there are times where it feels like a message movie. And no, I’m not knocking WALL-E. I love WALL-E. But there is an innocence and freedom about UP which reminds me of the early Pixar features. This, combined with the improved story-telling of the most recent of their movies (except maybe CARS), results in a wonderful film.

This movie has a lot of ideas in it. It’s about the early years of life, before you know to be afraid of anything. It is about the later years of life, after you’ve become jaded and single-minded. It is about father-son relationships and husband-wife relationships. It is about varying levels and forms of hero worship. It is about prioritizing the various pressures in your life. It is about moving on after death, and living in the moment. It is about rejecting the material world and embracing the small moments of life. It is about pack mentality, and individuality.

It is about all these things without losing brevity or open-eyed wonder. Nothing is forced. The character relationships are allowed to develop slowly, with the major subjects learning to make minor adjustments as well as major life shifts. This movie is brilliant, and I haven’t even touched on the beautiful animation. I will say that the 3D is unnecessary. See it if you like 3D, but enjoy it (I would think) just as much in 2D. Just, really, truly… see this film! SCORE: 10


I laughed as much at this as I did the very funny HANGOVER. The stuff with the dogs is amazing. The sort of amazing that usually is overdone in lesser movies and becomes the sole focus of a film. Instead, here, it supports our major story. I have never laughed so hard at the word ‘squirrel’ in my life.

There were moments in the first Act that I wondered where we were going. Once it hits the first montage with husband and wife, I was sucked in. From there on out, it just gets better and better. When it ended, I could have watched another hour with the characters. SCORE: 9.


For animated movies I count the effectiveness of the animation in creating character as much as the voice over work. And, in this movie, the work done is spectacular. Another Pixar movie which does awe-inspiring work during long stretches with little-to-no dialogue. All the Pixar shorts are free of dialogue. I’d love to see them do a full feature that way.

The voice work here is effective. Ed Asner does a really nice job voicing our leading man, Mr. Fredrickson. Chris Plummer is a solid voice as the villain, though I do wish that character was a little less one-dimensional. The ‘surprise’ of seeing him in South America is not surprising at all.

The dogs are amazing in this. The voices work perfectly, and the animation is flawless. There are scenes where we see them all in their individual glory, and others where they effectively mold in the pack that they are. I didn’t even know there was a single dog in this film going in, and I think they may have been my favorite part. SCORE: 9


I think UP could have done without the opening black-and-white archival footage. That is becoming a Pixar staple lately (INCREDIBLES and WALL-E use it, just off the top of my head), and I think this is an instance where it only serves to set up a later villain arrival. I would have gone right in with the kid adventurer stuff. But really I’m getting picky. I love that the screenplay is not afraid of silence and subtlety. It amazes me that the company consistently putting out the best scripts in mainstream film today is a kids animation company. SCORE: 8




FINAL SCORE: 9.. and, in my opinion, the best new film of the year thus far.

~ by johnlink00 on June 12, 2009.

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