Pixar's tenth movie has just been released and I think UP is the most daring of the lot so far. Yes, even more daring than the one about the rat that was a chef. I'll get it out of the way up front, I loved the movie and thought it was excellent, but it (at least as of right now) isn't my favorite of their movies.
UP begins with the story of Carl and Ellie, who meet during childhood, joined by their love of adventure. We see, in a beautiful sequence, them fall in love, get married, and watch their dreams of adventuring together slowly fade away as life intervenes and finally Carl is left alone in their house awaiting the loss of his own freedom (as he is being put into assisted living). As a last ditch effort, to live his & Ellie's dream, Carl floats his house away on thousands of balloons towards South America, joined by Russell, an unwitting passenger, who is a Wilderness Explorer seeking to get his Elderly Assistance merit badge.
This is a beautiful film, but also a very melancholy one. From Carl's loss of his wife, to Russell's absent Father, hell, even the talking dog is sad most of the time. I think the key is that almost all of the characters feel that they've failed and are in some way useless. While it may seem odd subject to broach in what is ostensibly children's movie, it's actually pretty apt. Watching my eldest (age 6) push his way through Kindergarten this year, dealing with failure is probably one of the earliest lessons kids learn and rarely do we actually attempt to teach them anything about it. He's wanted to read so badly but it's very hard, especially when you have the patience of..well, a six year-old.
The one thing that surprised me about the movie is that is very emotional, while the inital Carl/Ellie courtship scene is sure to bring the tears, there are several other occasions that got things a little dusty in the movie theater.
Overall, this is a pretty fantastic movie, though there are valid criticims to be made, especially with regards to the sometimes slow pacing, I was still won over by it.