Jordan Nagai (Russell) and Producer Jonas Rivera "UP" Interview
From the sea (“Finding Nemo”) to the race tracks (“Cars”) to faraway galaxies (“Wall-E”), Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios have been consistent in delighting us with great storytelling and filmmaking.
Now, the studios are taking us up, up, and away on one of their funniest adventures of all time. “Up” is the 10th Disney/Pixar movie and is definitely one of their best.
“Up” tells the uplifting tale of 78-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen (voiced by the legendary Ed Asner). His lifelong dream is to visit the wilds of South America. One day, before heading to retire to an old-age home, he ties thousands of balloons to his beloved house and flies away to Paradise Falls.
But unbeknownst to Carl, there’s an unwanted passenger in his flying home – the overly optimistic 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell (Jordan Nagai). The unwitting stowaway is just one badge shy of achieving his Senior Wilderness Explorer rank. The pin that will help Russell reach his goal is the Assisting-the-Elderly badge.
Together, Carl and Russell embark on the trip of their lives. They journey into a lost world where they encounter strange characters. But above all, Carl and Russell find their inner selves and discover the true nature of friendship.
The film is directed by Pixar veteran Pete Docter (“Monsters, Inc.”), from a script by his co-director, “Finding Nemo’s” Bob Peterson. The duo crafted one of the most vibrant, beautiful, and ebullient animated films in Disney/Pixar history.
“Up” works as a comedy because it provides ample amount of heart and sorrow. Yes, you heard me, there’s sorrow within this Pixar creation. The great Walt Disney once said, “for every laugh, there should be a tear.” And boy, did we get tears.
I slovenly cried numerous times, but I also heartily laughed along the way. The source of laughter comes from the antics of Kevin, a 13-foot tall flightless bird; and Dug (voiced by Peterson), a loveable golden mutt who’s living in the wilds of Paradise Falls as part of the dog pack searching for, you guessed it, a rare, flightless bird.
The source of the tears comes from the loving relationship between Carl and his wife Ellie. “Up” shows Ellie’s passing away but have no fear folks, your kids will not have nightmares. It was done in a heartbreaking fashion, but necessary to explain Carl’s motivations. The special bond that forms between Carl, Russell, Kevin, and Dug is also heartwarming.
“Up” has the special distinction to be the first Disney film, the first Pixar movie, and the first animated flick to open the Cannes Film Festival. The film deserves all the kudos for being brave in featuring a non-traditional hero at its center (a 78-year-old man in an animated flick), and for showcasing the difficult subject of death and old-age in a movie aimed at kids.
Presented in Disney Digital 3-D, Pixar animators are playing with images of squares and circles with “Up.” The younger characters are all drawn in the shape of a circle, while the older ones are square.
Weeks after watching “Up” I still can’t stop thinking about it, and I’m vowing to be the first in line when the movie opens this Friday. That’s the magic of Disney and Pixar. Whether it’s a fish, a car, or a monster in your closet, you believe these characters. In “Up,” you will identify with the old man who is brilliant enough to make his home fly high up into the sky.
And for that, “Up” gets 4 flying kisses
Country: United States
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