by Pete Docter; Bob Peterson; Jonas Rivera; Tom McCarthy; Edward Asner; Christopher Plummer; Jordan Nagai; Delroy Lindo; Jerome Ranft; John Ratzenberger; David Kaye; Elie Docter; Jeremy Leary; Dany Mann; Jess Harnell; Michael Giacchino; Kevin Nolting; Patrick Lin; Walt Disney Pictures.; Pixar (Firm); Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (Firm); Buena Vista Home Entertainment (Firm); DVD video : Animation : NTSC color broadcast system
Disney's "Up"   (2009-12-21)
<h3 class="crudeLanguage"> <h3 class="violentContent">Note: This was copied from Plugged In Online. Visit there today for the full review.</h3> <h3 class="violentContent">Crude or Profane Language</h3> </h3>
"Gosh," "golly" and "darn." <h3 class="drugContent">Drug and Alcohol Content</h3>
Muntz's pack of well-trained dogs serves dinner to Muntz, Carl and Russell—including wine for the two senior citizens. It's hard to tell how much liquid actually gets in the glasses, though, since pouring vino is something the pack hasn't quite mastered yet. The era of prohibition is mentioned. <h3 class="negativeElements">Other Negative Elements</h3>
Wanting to get rid of Russell, Carl fantasizes about making him rappel down to a skyscraper rooftop—and in this daydream, the plan goes awry and Russell falls. Carl initially reneges on a promise to take care of Kevin. <h3 class="conclusion">Conclusion</h3>
We learn that Ellie ripped a page out of a library book to paste in her adventure scrapbook. Carl lies to a couple of retirement home workers when they come to take him away, saying he's going to say good-bye to his home for the last time (when in reality he's about to launch it into the air). One of the workers says that he's "probably going to the bathroom for the 80th time." Speaking of bathrooms, Russell relieves himself in the jungle. (The act takes place offscreen, but we see the boy tamping down a pile of dirt that covers his makeshift latrine.)
"A people are as healthy and confident as the stories they tell themselves," wrote Nigerian poet and novelist Ben Okri. "Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart larger."
Up is exactly the kind of thing Okri was talking about. It transcends cartoon. It transcends film. It is a story, and a story in the word's best, most mythical sense—a narrative that educates and entertains, a fairy tale that can make your heart larger. It makes me wonder, again, why more people aren't making films like this. And I'm beginning to think they simply don't know how.
Pixar, though, has been making worthwhile movies for nearly 15 years now, and the stories keep getting stronger. Up's sense of literature and symbol could be studied on many a college campus, and its themes would not be out of place in a church service. While it doesn't deal in theology or spirituality, its morals are from time-tested biblical bedrock: Keep your promises. Treasure people, not things. Spend time with your kids. Honor your elders. Respect. Trust. Love.
And it's a gut-busting hoot to boot.
A postscript: I'll have to spoil a rather major plot point as I write the next few paragraphs—but it's worth it, I promise. In many (most) modern kid flicks, young audiences are told to "follow their dreams." This is a message that simultaneously resonates and repels. While there's real value in dreaming big, we shouldn't let those dreams sidetrack us from what God has in mind for us: As painful as it can be, sometimes our dreams need to melt.
In Up, we see a dreamer disappointed. A dreamer who feels betrayed by life's circumstances. His eyes tear up when he thinks of Ellie's apparently empty scrapbook—the one that was to hold pictures from all their daring adventures together, the one in which Ellie wrote, as a child, "Stuff I'm going to do."
But then, as he sits in his gray, lifeless house, now settled snugly beside Paradise Falls—a dream too long in coming—he opens the book and finds ... pictures. And more pictures. And still more pictures. Carl. Ellie. Ellie. Carl. Weddings. Car trips. Quiet days at home. Pictures and pictures and pictures.
On the last page is a note from Ellie. "Thanks for the adventure," it reads. "Now go out and get a new one!"
Few of us live our lives exactly as we plan them. Some of our dreams go unfulfilled. Some of them are unfulfilling.
Yet even in the midst of final exams, trips to the grocery store and even tragedies we can never prepare for, we're still impossibly, gloriously blessed. Sometimes we just need to forget the snowmen that've melted and look at the living, lush grass underneath.
Up helps us do that.
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