So I watched Up two times. The second time was my first 3D movie experience. I was satisfied watching it two times, but just one viewing would suffice. I don’t usually watch and re-watch animated films on the big screen. There are a few exemptions, but most of the time; I just wait for their DVD releases. I would be inclined to see an animated flick depending on the convincing power of its trailer. I was curious with Up and I’m glad I was.
This animated film got me thinking of the goals that I have set to fulfill in my life. It’s one of those films that constantly remind viewers that everything changes, that plans are not permanent, and that what you get may not be what you expect. This is exemplified in the life story of Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Edward Asner). As a boy (voiced by Jeremy Leary), he grew with hopes of exploring the wilderness. His fascination with the wilderness introduced him to Ellie (voiced by Elizabeth “Elie” Doctor), who be his future wife. Young Ellie has dreams of having a house and living in Paradise Falls, a formation found in South America. The film progresses with the two getting married and moving into the house where they first met (which pretty much explains the role of the balloon-supported house we see in the trailers and posters). The next scenes become painful as Ellie is revealed to be unable to conceive a child. They move on with their lives by directing their attention to fulfilling their dreams of living at Paradise Falls. Carl works as an ice cream and balloon vendor while Ellie works as a zoo guide. They start a savings scheme but with constant everyday needs, their savings dwindle away. Until they get old. Carl, realizing that they may not have much time left to fulfill their dream, buys airplane tickets for them to Peru. However, on the day he plans to present his gift, Ellie collapses and gets hospitalized. Eventually, she dies from old age.
Poor Carl is left all alone in their house, feeling miserable on the outside but lonely in the inside. Modernization becomes harsh to the elderly protagonist as, in a fit of emotion; he harms a construction worker within his compound and is thus deposed of his property. He is then urged to move to Shady Oaks Retirement Village. This does not sway him from his integrity as he awakens the dream of moving the house to Paradise Falls. He comes up with an ingenious plan: Make thousands of balloons to carry the house to Paradise Falls. The plan spares him from going to the elderly home and goes along smoothly. That is, until Russell (voiced by Jordan Nagai) comes along. Russell is a member of the local wildness explorer group and is aiming to complete his badges to become a senior wilderness explorer. The last badge that he has to get is an “Assisting the Elderly” badge, the reason why he goes to Mr. Fredricksen. They experience a new adventure that brings new meaning into Carl’s life.
I would say that this is Pixar’s most endearing film yet. Although unrealistic in the sense of a balloon-supported house, a weird South African bird (named Kevin), and talking dogs (the notable one is Dug, a golden retriever voiced by Bob Peterson), it presents the bitter realities of life like the death of Ellie and being robbed of one’s property. I regard Up as a semi silent film. The first 15 or 20 minutes were mostly animations accompanied with music. No speaking—just plain cartooning. And it was effective. It delivers the background story of the protagonist and the reason why he highly values his house. I especially loved the bittersweet moments of the film. I noticed that these tear-inducing scenes are the scenes involving the elderly Ellie. She is seen in the final stages of the silent introduction, so tears will already flow in the beginning of the film. She is also shown in photographs towards the end as Carl turns over the pages of her scrapbook. The photos are convincingly old-looking, which impressed me of Pixar’s animating capabilities. I especially loved the photo of Ellie seated with her back to the camera, looking through a window and being engulfed by a combination of light and curtain. The sight of that photo brought on the tears and I suddenly felt how much Carl misses his one and only.
I’ve stated earlier that watching this film one is enough. Yes, once is enough because when I watched it the second time around, I was already well-acquainted with the story that I didn’t feel the same way as when I watched it the first time. Sure, I was a bit teary-eyed in the second viewing, but I didn’t cry at all as like in the first.
Clearly, Up is not just a comedy for kids. It’s got elements of adventure, drama, love story, and reality. Pixar is able to combine these elements to make a heart-warming and eye-opening film.
Before the actual film, there was the traditional Pixar short film entitled, Partly Cloudy. It’s a really hilarious story about a cloud (Gus), who creates babies of every creature on Earth, and his sidekick stork (Peck), who delivers these babies to the parents. I can’t help but wish that Gus and Peck were able to help Carl and Ellie have a child. The animated short is kinda contradictory to the main film, but it was otherwise fine.
There is a scene near the end where Carl is on a blimp holding his balloon-supported home. He suddenly releases it to save Russell, Kevin, and Dug. I have found that the house is the embodiment of Carl and Ellie’s dreams that’s why Carl values the house and all its decors and furniture. It is where he and his sweetheart lived for their whole lives. It is Carl’s constant giver of strength to reach for his dreams. It is his only existing reminder of Ellie. So I felt the pain of having to let go of the house—having to let go of a dream. Since watching Up, I’ve always asked myself if I could let go of my dreams when the time comes. I picture what I would do, how I would feel, and how I would get over it. It might be painful. I might just laugh over it. Dreams could even pass by without knowing it. Could you let go of your dreams?
Russell: “Sorry about your house, Mr. Fredricksen.”
Carl: “It’s just a house.”