Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” and here’s my
commentary on a film opening today at The
Majestic Theater in
is one of those good-for-the-whole-family kind
of animated movies:
it’s cute, it’s funny, it’s
charming, but it keeps from being syrupy because
the old man gets to be crotchety, and, of
course, we have a dastardly villain to overcome.
Ed Asner is the voice of Carl Fredricksen,
a lonely old widower who still misses his
They met as kids, because she invited him
to be a member of her adventure club, and they
enjoyed each other immediately.
They dreamed of exploring faraway lands,
, featured in popular newsreels, but then life
They couldn’t have children, much to
their sorrow, but they bought a house together,
and lived in it happily until she died.
There’s a certain sadness about him
now, as he dodders into old age alone and
lonely, uncertain what to do about it.
The urban construction is all around him,
and they want his land, but he holds out
stubbornly, in part because the house is a
shrine to Ellie, and all their happy years
still talks to her as if she’s there.
A little neighbor boy named Russell (the
voice of Jordan Nagai) knocks at the door in his
explorer outfit, wanting to earn his “help the
elderly” merit badge, and grumpy old Carl will
have none of it.
He doesn’t need help, he just wants to
be left alone.&nb
sp; Or so he thinks.
The whimsical part of the story is that
Carl strings together a bunch of balloons so he
can float away while still in his house, and go
have that adventure he’s always wanted.
What he didn’t realize, until he was
already under way, was that he had a
stowaway---Russell, who immediately loses his
GPS tracking device, so they have no idea where
they are. Then
the thunder storm comes upon them, and they are
blown off course, and land in a wilderness which
closely resembles the Paradise Falls of Carl’s
it’s not as idyllic as it appears. There’s
danger there, and adventure enough for everyone,
but, of course, the real point is not the
journey at all, but the relationship between the
grumpy old man and the frightened little boy,
who find, in each other, the trust and affection
they both need.
But it’s not as hackneyed as all that,
there’s a lot of whimsy and grace and humor in
this film, and the viewer winds up identifying
with animated characters as if they were
something more than human.
In “Up,” the wilderness is neither as
safe nor as pristine as we usually assume it to
about the old of the species nurturing and
protecting the young, and the young growing up.
And though it’s the way of the world
for the world to move on, it’s a wonderful
world, just the same.
Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” for 93-5