Release Date: 29 May 2009
Director: Pete Doctor, Bob Peterson
History: After nine films, all Hollywood success stories, Pixar's tenth film would come from the imagination of it's director, Pete Doctor. Doctor imagined escaping life when it gets to be too much with a flying house. From there, he took his idea and crafted the story for the film with writers Thomas McCarthy and Pixar's Bob Peterson. Doctor based the hero Carl Fredrickson on legendary actors Spencer Tracy and Walter Matthau as he felt they were grumpy old guys, but yet sweet, the way he wanted Carl to be. He also based the name of the villain, Charles Muntz, on the name of the old cartoon producer Charles Mintz, who is famous in Disney lore for stealing Walt Disney's original cartoon, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, forcing Walt to ultimately create Mickey Mouse.
"Up" was released in the summer of 2009 and was the best reviewed film that year. It went on to be Pixar's second most profitable film after "Finding Nemo." It was also the first Pixar film to be released in Disney Digital 3D. It went on to win a number of prestigious awards, but maybe it's greatest honor was being the second ever animated film, and first Pixar animated film, to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture of the Year.
My Reaction: With the Pixar side of this marathon basically over for now (as of the moment this is being published, "Toy Story 3" is less then a month from being released.) I can say watching these films as strung together as I did has been a real treat and one that sometime down the road I hope to do again. I have defiantly seen growth in Pixar animation, characters and story telling going from film to film. And yet I have also seen Pixar still using tried and true principles in every film they have made as well as try new things. Some of these new ideas have be good and found success, some have not been as favored, but it's been a fun ride so far. It has made me stop being a Pixar fan boy long enough to search my true feelings for each of their films. In doing so I have had to be very honest in my likes and dis-likes which has lead to some interesting discoveries.
I think that Pixar's first four film were amazing, their fifth and sixth were ok, their seventh was really good, and their eighth and ninth were also just ok. Which leads us to their tenth and currently (until "Toy Story 3" comes out) latest film, "Up." After watching it this latest time, I realized that I really liked it and that it may be on par with their first four films. In many ways it was the most daring. Unlike many of their past films, it was hard to give a brief explanation for what the film is about. But I think in seriously thinking about it, the reason I love it is also what Pete Doctor said it was about: realizing how precious the people in our lives are, because once they are gone, they are gone.
Carl loved his wife, but when she died, he had such a hard time letting her go. We all have moments are will have moment like Carl were someone important in our lives will pass away, push us to let go of the past and move on with the future. But at the same time, still honoring the memory of that fallen person. The film is about enjoy the many adventures life puts in our way. While Carl looses his wife, he in time gains a new relationship with Russel, who while he does not replace the memory of Carl's wife, reflects the brave decision Carl makes to blaze new trails of adventures in life in the new chapters that are unfolding. I think I can find common ground with how Carl feels and the growth he builds on from start to finish in the film. Life is change, it is a huge part of being human, but it is still very hard, harder at some times then others. It is hard to watch family and friends pass away in time or fade away from your life and hard to deal with a change in life situations and surroundings. But with continuous courage, we can embrace the changes of our lives and enjoy each moment as they pass by. Carl shows us the way.
My Wife's Reaction: After watching the first ten Pixar films, it turns out that this is easily my wives favorite Pixar film. She says she is not sure why, that she just likes it the best, but I noticed she really liked Dug.
My Final Grade: (A) This was an amazing film. I loved the lush locations, the imagination found in the story and settings (I mean flying in a house tied to a zillion balloons? How cool is that?!) and the internal story facing our hero, Carl. This film earned being the second animated film to be nominated for Best Picture. It was in my mind, Pixar's best in a while.
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