With two weeks to go until the Oscars, I've finally seen one of the 10 nominees for Best Picture. Yeah, I'm a little behind.
I know some of them are way too violent for me. And frankly, a lot of movies work fine on a small screen. So I simply add them to my Netflix queue and wait for the dvd to arrive in the mail.
But every once in awhile there's one I really wish I'd seen in the theater, or at least bought that 46-inch flat-panel plasma TV I've been thinking about.
Up, from Disney/Pixar, is definitely in the latter category. It's sweet and funny and visually stunning and it's a thrilling adventure story.
Like all Pixar films, it works on two levels - lots for the kids to enjoy and some witty references the adults might pick up on.
First, it's a buddy movie about a lonely widower, Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner), and an eager little boy, Russell (Jordan Nagai), who yearns for some paternal attention.
But before they meet, there's a sequence introducing Carl that is simply masterful. Like the beginning of Wall-e, it's done without dialogue, yet conveys everything we need to know about his life. And it's so poignant, I was crying at the end.
Asner is in his Lou Grant mode, fiercely independent and a bit cranky. Nagai's Russell, the first Asian-American character in a Pixar movie, is so cute as a Wilderness Explorer who shows up on Carl's doorstep, trying to earn his final merit badge for "assisting the elderly."
Carl and Russell travel to an exotic location, make new friends, including a very energetic golden retriever, find themselves in hair-raising situations and match wits with a wily villain (voiced by Christopher Plummer). Some of the animation seemed so realistic, it was breathtaking.
In fact, Up reminded me of the best parts of the Indiana Jones movies. (If only Indy 4 had been this good!)
Up is only the second animated film, after Beauty and the Beast, to be nominated for Best Picture. This is one I should have gotten up off the couch and gone to the theater to see.