Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What's 'UP!' ?

The Film: UP
The Voice Talent: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, John Ratzenberger, and others.
The Dealio: Carl is the neighborhood grouch: flinty, anti-social and fiercely solo. But, that's now...Before, quite early in the movie, we discover the real scoop on Carl: as a boy, he was the shy, but dying-to-break-free-of -his-shell half of an odd-couple sort of team. His life takes a definite turn for the 'out there' when he encounters his future: soon to be his partner in crime, best friend and the love of his life in a little tomboy named Ellie. In a nearly wordless montage of scenes, the couple's life spools out before our amused, delighted-and, OK, sometimes, pretty tear-soaked-eyes. We watch, co-conspirators, as the pair hatches the greatest most out-of-this world journey conceivable; then we sigh, helplessly, when the world intervenes with obstacles, lessons, losses and sacrifice. Will these two ever get that adventure into which they had poured so much love, attention, and planning? You begin to think, 'No!' Tears threaten again.
When Ellie dies, so does the largest part of Carl's heart. He grieves, but also feels enormous guilt: Ellie, after all, never got to have her grand adventure- and Carl never got to share in her wonder and joy. Years pass, and Carl deliberately closes off his heart and soul, simply withdrawing from anything outside his day-to-day grind. Call it life lived as the anti-adventure. After a gigantic over-reaction, he is ordered by a judge to leave the only happy home he has ever known: his and Ellie's place. Forced into a facility where he can be 'looked after', (argh!) what's a grouchy, ex-thrill-seeker to do? Simple: pull up roots- literally- and head out- at long last- on the jaunt to end all jaunts. Using balloon-power, Carl sets sail in a house full of memories and memorabilia. Plus a certain gung-ho explorer scout/ involuntary hitchhiker named Russell. Yes, there is serious action. Yes, there are creatures weird and wonderful. But mostly, there is dawning recognition of kindred spirits in both Russell and Doug the Dog. And, finally, finally, there is grace, and dreams coming through, and a surprising understanding that there are still enormous possibilities in everyday life for each of us, fictional and non-.
The Grading Session: 6+ stars out of 5. The art is phenomenal, the voice characteristations, neat, intriguing and skillful. And that tremendously moving story. So, fans? Don't forget the hanky.
This is one for the home library.
Lessons Learned: Ad it's a terrific, and terrifically important, one: sometimes, the greatest adventure in the entire world is not actually an action sequence, but, rather, the indescribable joy of living each day, well and truly loved by your very best friend.

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