Friday, June 26, 2009

Up (Rhoades)

“Up” Is Fantasy Of a Flying House

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

“Up” is kinda like Mr. Magoo meets “Around the World in 80 Days.” A little old man who has led a bland life ties 10,000 helium balloons to his house and next thing you know it’s up, up, and away!

Unbeknownst to him, a chubby 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer had been knocking on his door at the moment the house gives flight. Hunkered on the front porch, the terrified boy finally convinces the sky-high homeowner to allow him inside the flying structure.

Seems that when greedy land developers threatened to put the cranky 78-year-old balloon salesman into a retirement home, he decides to take the journey his late wife never had the chance to make, flying off to South America.

Just like the stuff of dreams, “Up” carries you away to magical realms. The man and boy encounter threats of the Venezuelan jungle, unexpected foes, and strange animals. These include a talking dog and a giant tropical bird.

Ed Asner (best remembered for TV’s “Mary Tyler Moore”) voices the old man. You’ve read about him in Solares Hill, developing film projects with Key West’s own ersatz movie maestro Harvey Rochman.

Jonathan Nagel does the voice for the young Asian-American stowaway.

And Christopher Plummer turns on his villainy as a famous adventurer who wants credit for discovering the species of large birds.

This computer-animated 3-D film comes from Pixar, the Disney-owned company that was founded by Apple genius Steve Jobs. Pixar has given us such CGI masterpieces as “Toy Story,” “Monsters, Inc.,” “Finding Nemo,” “Ratatouille,” and “WALL-E.” All in all earning 22 Academy Awards, 4 Golden Globes, and 3 Grammys, among many other accolades.

“Up” was directed by Pete Doctor, the animator who gave us the willies with “Monsters, Inc.”
As we follow the exploits of the young boy, “Up” may at first seem like a coming-of-age story. However, the director actually sees it as an “unfinished love story,” the old man dealing with the loss of his wife.

Doctor says he was inspired by “A Christmas Carol” and “Casablanca,” which he describes as “resurrection stories about men who lose something, and regain purpose during their journey.”
So enjoy “Up” on whatever level seems best. From a kid’s point of view. Through the eyes of an elderly man. Or simply as a moviegoer caught up in this phantasmagorical story about a flying house.

But remember, this is only fantasy. 10,000 balloons wouldn’t do the trick. A technical director worked out that it would actually require 23 million balloons to make Carl’s house fly.
Alas, the increased cost of airfare.
[from Solares Hill]

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