Saturday, February 20, 2010


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.

, 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!)

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.


Bob said...

I've never been one of those people compelled to see every nominated movie. But so many of my friends insisted I see "Up" that I broke down and bought it on-demand. And I loved it. The last 1/4 is a little too action-heavy, but you are so right about that opening sequence.

Esther said...

I'm not usually a big action movie fan but I did enjoy the Indiana Jones movies (the first couple, anyway) and I like the way Up pays tribute to the action/adventure genre. Glad you enjoyed the movie, too. The opening scene is pretty amazing, the way it tells a story through drawings, with practically no words.

Linda said...

I also loved Up, especially the first 10 minutes. I also cried during that sequence. I haven't seen all the nominated films, but Up is my pick for best film of the year. I'm glad you liked it too.

Esther said...

Hey Linda, thanks for the comment. One thing that surprised me about the opening scene was the way it dealt with the subject of infertility. Kind of heavy but it was done very sensitively. I wonder if it led to any questions from kids or just went over their heads?