Film review: Up

Last night, the First Mate and I went to see Up, the latest Disney/Pixar collaboration, which has been out for a week and garnering great reviews.  Up pairs an unlikely set of heroes on a most unlikely adventure, and will delight audience members of all ages.

In fact, it starts off with a surprisingly poignant and touching sequence, which gives the film more emotional depth than one might expect in a movie aimed at children.  It opens with two children in the Depression era, meeting and playing in a dilapidated house in which they pretend to be their common hero, famed explorer Charles Muntz, traveling through South America.  They grow up, get married, and grow old together without ever having the adventures of their childhood dreams.  When Carl Frederickson becomes a widower, however, developers scheme to take his house — and they push him into his adventure, but with an unwitting stowaway.  I appreciated the back story, as it made Carl much more than just a cantankerous old man.   At times, especially in the beginning, Up reminded me of the classic European short The Red Balloon, and not just for the obvious reason.

We spent the extra money to see this in 3-D, and it was worth it.  Up would be just as charming in the traditional format, but Pixar has made 3-D a very effective format.  Monsters vs Aliens also used it to great effect.

Up is rated PG, which I found curious.  There is no objectionable subject matter in the film, so I assume it got the rating for some intense action sequences.  Except for the very youngest children who might be inclined to be frightened by these, I’d say that Up is a great film for the entire family.  Our audience had the widest range of ages, and even the teenagers seemed enchanted by the film.

One last note: I would swear that the artists who created Carl and Muntz deliberately made them look like the older versions of Spencer Tracy and Kirk Douglas, respectively.  Did anyone else notice the resemblance?

Update: Here’s Spencer Tracy in his last film, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner:

And here’s Kirk Douglas from late in life:

I hope it’s true, anyway.  A fine way to give a subtle tribute to both great actors.