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Explorer slash adventurer Charles Muntz, voiced by Christopher Plumber in this Pixar animation, was in South America, (the fictional?) Paradise Falls to be precise, in his Spirit of Adventure flying machine. He brought back home the skeletal remains of a rare, tall, two-legged bird, but scientists smelt a phony and Muntz is stripped of his awards and heads back to Paradise Falls to withdraw from the world.
Years later, Carl (Ed Asner), an elderly man, finds his family home is scheduled for the property developers, but loving his home, he concocts a plan to escape, and lifts off the ground, heading for Paradise Falls, where the explorer Charles Muntz resides…
Paradise Falls is the place that Carl and the love of his life, wife Ellie, promised to see one day, but Ellie died, and boy scout Russell comes along for the ride, someone Carl has a hard time relating to…
The humanity of the characters shines through, though. In fact, this is a good film. The action hits the spot. The themes are wonderful–let the elderly live out their retirement in peace, the value of friendship and concern for others, and loyalty and faithfulness.
Ed Asner and Jordan Nagai, as the voice of Carl and Russell respectively, as well as their animated altar-egos, are completely believable characters.
The weird mechanized dogs at Paradise Falls may be someone’s idea of fun, however parents may be warned that there are light scenes of peril, and Charles Muntz the once respected explorer is a little strange. Even so, Up is well formed, beautifully so, on occasion. The music is genuinely charming and beautiful. Up seems aware of its own fantasy—quite resigned to it, but not happily so. The message, of never up-heaving the elderly from their homes, may in real life, somewhere, be something of a fantasy. Up never lays the pathos of this on thick, but with a touch of sadness. It seems the deeper theme of the film is that despite loss in life, which both Charles Muntz and Carl had (and wife Ellie for that matter), they still had a choice how to take it, a rather sharpened fact of life as I saw it.