Friday, December 4, 2009

"Up" Continues Studio's Tradition for Excellent Family Films

Pixar studios has an excellent reputation for high quality family films. "Toy Story" broke new ground in 1995 with the studio's now trademark style of computer generated animation. They continued with "Finding Nemo" in 2003, another groundbreaking film in that it took place nearly all under the surface of the ocean, something that had never been done before, at least not to such a huge and life-like scale. The year 2004 saw "The Incredibles" a film by Corvallis High School alum Brad Bird. This film garnered the Academy Award for the best animated feature the following year. Pixar's latest film "Up" is another excellent addition to these exceptional films.

In the film, Carl Fredrickson (voiced by Ed Asner) is a elderly man who has recently lost his wife Ellie. Carl is perfectly content to stay in home, or if he's feeling pent up, he gets his coat and hat, unlocks the multiple locks on his door, and walks the few feet to the chair on his porch. Everything is changing around Carl. His beloved wife has recently died, he has no other family or friends, and the city he has lived in is now, in an attempt to keep up with the times, is trying to force him out of his beloved home in order to make way for a mall.

He and his wife had made plans years ago to travel to South America. When she passes, he all but abandons those plans, until one day. After a disagreement with the city, he's forced to go live an a retirement home, but he has no plans of actually going. Carl, a long time balloon salesman, rigs his house with thousands of balloons and begins his journey to South America. But he soon discovers that he's brought more with him than his home and memories of his life with Ellie. As he sails over the countryside, he gets an unsuspecting knock at the door. As he opens the door, he finds Russell (voiced by 9 year old Jordan Nagai) a wilderness scout who is determined to earn his final badge by assisting an elderly person.

Carl and Russell form an unlikely friendship as they embark on an adventure, albeit an inadvertant one. While scaling clifts and walking through jungles in an attempt to re-locate his home, Carl and Russell encounter an endangered bird, a talking dog, and a maniacal collector and aviator (whom once, we later find out, was one of Carl's childhood idols) who wants nothing more than to capture the bird in order to give him credibiliy again.

This film was excellent. The scenery throughout the film was beautiful. And the film has plenty of Pixar's stunningly seemless life-like animation. To animate a film like this, every small detail, down to the wind in the character's hair has to be perfect. These films make you forget you're watching an animated film. All of these films have something in common. There's always a character in them that undergo some kind of transformation. In this film, the relationship with a young child transforms a closed off old man into a caring male figure for a young man who has very little male influence in his life. There are many touching moments in the film. Most of them come in the process of young Russell trying to break through Carl's tough shell, which he eventually does.

If you've never seen Pixar film, go out and rent this one. They make great films, and this one ranks up there with some of the best.

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