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Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, Delroy Lindo, Jerome Ranft, John Ratzenberger
Writing Credits:
Bob Peterson (and story), Pete Docter (and story), Thomas McCarthy (story)

Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios take moviegoers up, up and away on one of the funniest adventures of all time with their latest comedy-fantasy. Up follows the uplifting tale of 78-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen, who finally fulfills his lifelong dream of a great adventure when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to the wilds of South America. But he discovers all too late that his biggest nightmare has stowed away on the trip an overly optimistic 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell. Their journey to a lost world, where they encounter some strange, exotic and surprising characters, is filled with hilarity, emotion and wildly imaginative adventure.

Box Office:
$175 million.
Opening Weekend
$44.138 million on 3818 screens.
Domestic Gross
$292.913 million.

Rated PG

Widescreen 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 96 min.
Price: $45.99
Release Date: 11/10/2009

Disc One:
• Audio Commentary with Director Pete Docter and Co-Director Bob Peterson
Partly Cloudy Short
Dug’s Special Mission Short
• “Cine-Explore” Featurette
• Alternate Scenes
• Easter Egg
• Sneak Peeks
Disc Two:
• Seven Featurettes
• Alternate Scene
• Promotional Montage
• “Global Guardian Badge Game”
• Worldwide Trailers
• Digital Copy
• DVD Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Up [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 5, 2009)

Will Pixar ever falter? A few years ago, I would’ve answered “yes, it’s inevitable that they’ll eventually make a dud”. However, as time progresses and their stellar track record continues, it become more and more difficult to imagine that they’ll ever turn out a genuine clunker. They’re approaching the 15th anniversary of 1995’s Toy Story; the nine Pixar flicks since then have varied in quality, but all have been good, and many have been great.

2009’s Up falls somewhere between those two ratings. While definitely a very good film, I’m not quite sure it qualifies as “great”. But I’m not sure it doesn’t, either, and I believe it’s Pixar’s most satisfying effort since 2006’s Cars.

Up starts in the 1930s and introduces us to Carl Fredicksen as a young boy (Jeremy Leary). He dreams of travel and adventure and he idolizes globetrotting icon Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer). When he meets a girl named Ellie (Elie Docter), he discovers a like-minded spirit; the pair become inseparable and marry.

They plan to see the world, but the pressures of ordinary life undermine these dreams. Eventually, Ellie passes and leaves Carl (Ed Asner) as a tired old man who refuses to leave his home most of the time. Eventually he does make his escape, and in an unusual way. Carl ties massive amounts of helium-inflated balloons to his house, so when he unleashes them, he and his abode literally float away.

Along with an unexpected visitor. Young Russell (Jordan Nagai) pestered Carl to be the subject of scout-related do-gooding. When Carl’s house took flight, Russell ended up stuck on the porch, so he becomes an unwitting travel partner.

Carl’s destination? Paradise Falls in South America, a location he and Ellie long dreamed of visiting. Carl plans to spend his remaining days in that idyllic location, but he encounters obstacles along the way. This include a flightless bird Russell names “Kevin”, a “talking dog” named Dug (Bob Peterson), and Carl’s old hero, the long-lost – but still kicking – Muntz.

First – and maybe only – quibble: shouldn’t Muntz be over a 100 years old? The dude seems awfully spry for a guy past the century mark. An unused story line explains his relative youth, but as it stands, the movie never lets us know how such an old guy remains so frisky. Heck, he seems younger than Carl, even though he has to be at least 20-30 years older.

That minor distraction aside, Up provides quintessential Pixar. The studio seems to know how to balance comedy, sentiment and action so well, and Up demonstrates that. While I liked Ratatouille and WALL-E, I thought they were a little dry. The former just lacked a certain spark, and the latter suffered from a heavy-handed environmental message. Like all Pixar efforts, they were enjoyable; they simply didn’t transport me ala the studio’s best efforts.

As I alluded earlier, I can’t quite place Up among my absolute favorite Pixar works, but it definitely delights me in a way that its two predecessors didn’t. I think the big difference is that it doesn’t seem to take itself quite as seriously. For a movie about a rat who cooks, Ratatouille could come across as rather somber, and WALL-E was a little too in love with its theme and its attempt to be Something Different.

Up isn’t a glib, meaningless comedy, but it boasts the same kind of crazy fun that made the Toy Story flicks and A Bug’s Life so entertaining. Some folks weren’t wild about aspects of the flick’s humor; they thought the shenanigans with talking dogs and whatnot seemed out of place in a movie that dealt with mortality and other contemplative themes.

I disagree. The beauty of Up stems from the way it integrates its divergent sides. It can jump from wild action to heartfelt emotion with alacrity but not seem scattered or awkward. The filmmakers manage to blend the various tones in a satisfying manner that allows all aspects – drama, comedy and action – to succeed.

I suspect many viewers lumped Ed Asner into the Official Abe Vigoda “He’s Still Alive?” Club. Or maybe not: Asner works a lot more than Vigoda, and it wasn’t that long ago that he played a reasonably prominent role in Elf, a very successful flick. Nonetheless, he’s been off the public radar for quite some time, and he’s definitely not an actor you think will play the lead in a major summer blockbuster, even if just as a voice.

Pixar chose well when they selected Asner, as he brings real life to Carl. After all his years as Lou Grant, we know he can play grumpy, but Asner adds a warmth beneath the surliness. He also has excellent comedic timing and provides a wonderful performance as Carl.

Really, I can’t find much negative to say about Up. It takes a downright goofy idea and makes it work. The concept of a balloon-powered floating abode is pretty idiotic, but darn if Pixar doesn’t deliver another delight. You’ll believe a house can fly!

The Disc Grades: Picture A+/ Audio A-/ Bonus B+

Up appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. I expected a sumptuous visual experience from Up, and the Blu-ray delivered the goods.

Sharpness remained immaculate at all times. Even in the widest shots, the movie appeared crisp and distinctive. No signs of fuzziness or softness ever remotely affected the presentation. Jaggies and moiré effects failed to exist, and no edge enhancement appeared. Of course, the digital transfer came completely free from source flaws; this was a perfectly clean presentation.

With its varied settings, Up went with a broad, lively palette that looked great. The colors always came across as vibrant and dynamic. Blacks were deep and firm, while shadows appeared clean and concise. This was a flawless, gorgeous image.

While not quite as stunning, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of Up was quite strong. Given its story, the movie didn’t offer constant action, but it boasted more than enough good sequences to make it engaging. Most of these showed up in the film’s last third or so. During earlier moments, we got nice usage of the five channels – the storm that carried the house to South America was especially involving – but the film favored ambience for its first hour.

That changed as we neared the climax. With many action elements in the final act, the movie offered plenty of opportunities for solid information. It delivered these well, as the material meshed together well and created an exciting environment. In addition, music always delivered good stereo imaging, and speech featured a fair amount of localized dialogue. All of this combined to create a vivid soundscape.

In addition, audio quality was strong. Speech seemed natural and distinctive, and music offered nice range and vivacity. Effects came across as accurate and dynamic. They boasted fine punch and appeared concise and full. Although the audio didn’t always dazzle, it soared often enough to earn an “A-“.

Expect plenty of extras here. On Disc One, we start with an audio commentary from director Pete Docter and co-director Bob Peterson. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the tale’s origins and development, various story/character issues and influences, cast and performances, the flick’s title, sets and visual design, music, audio and editing, abandoned/altered sequences, animation and technical topics, and trivia.

Pixar commentaries are always good, and this is another winner. Docter and Peterson work well together, and they provide a great deal of information about the movie. They do this with nice humor as they create a smooth, enjoyable examination of their film.

Two shorts crop up next. Partly Cloudy (5:49) accompanied theatrical showings of Up. In it, we follow a stork who always gets stuck with difficult baby deliveries. It’s awfully cutesy, but it musters decent entertainment value.

A new cartoon called Dug’s Special Mission (4:43) provides more fun with the movie’s canine star. It actually connects to the final film, as it shows how Dug ended up in a place to meet Carl and Russell. It provides good amusement, and I like the manner in which it ties into the movie.

Adventure Is Out There runs 22 minutes, 17 seconds and includes remarks from Docter, Peterson, tepui naturalist/filmmaker Adrian Warren, production manager Mark Nielsen, story supervisor Ronnie Del Carmen, art director Bryn Imagire, environment art director Nat McLaughlin, production designer Ricky Nierva, producer Jonas Rivera, supervising technical director Steve May, art director Don Shank, and lighting direction Lou Romano. The featurette looks at the South American locations and the crew’s research trip there. I enjoy pieces like this, as it’s always interesting to see the work done to create a real world. We get a good idea how the trek influenced the film.

Entitled The Many Endings of Muntz, we get a four-minute, 56-second discussion of alternate scenes. We hear from Docter, Del Carmen, Rivera, May, and Peterson. The piece looks at the various ways the filmmakers considered using to finish off the Muntz character. It’s an interesting glimpse at some unused possibilities.

A few ads open Disc One. We get clips for Toy Story 3, The Princess and the Frog, and Santa Buddies. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with clips for Dumbo, Ponyo, Disney Prep and Landing, Disney Movie Rewards and Blu-ray Disc.

If you click to the left of the main menu, you’ll find The Egg. This one-minute and 57-second snippet includes notes from Peterson, , Nierva, Del Carmen, and Rivera. Yes, this is an Easter egg about an egg! It tells us about an abandoned story concept. It features a magical egg Muntz uses to stay young. This is a good snippet that should’ve been a “regular” feature, not a hidden bonus.

Over on disc two, we start with seven featurettes. We go through Geriatric Hero (6:24), Canine Companions (8:26), Russell: Wilderness Explorer (9:00), Our Giant Flightless Friend, Kevin (5:04), Homemakers of Pixar (4:38), Balloons and Flight (6:25) and Composing for Characters (7:37). Across these, we hear from Docter, Peterson, Rivera, Nierva, Del Carmen, May, Imagire, Shank, McLaughlin, supervising animator Scott Clark, directing animators Mike Venturini, Shawn Krause and Dave Mullins, character supervisor Thomas Jordan, dog behaviorist Ian Dunbar, character modeling and articulation lead Tom Sanocki, simulation and crowds artists Edwin Chang and Paul Kanyuk, story artist Peter Sohn, character art direction Daniel Lopez Munoz, writer Tom McCarthy, character cloth lead Claudia Chung, animator Dan Nguyen, art director Albert Lozano, sound designer Tom Myers, character shading and grooming artists Byron Bashforth and Laura Hainke, sets modeling artist Suzanne Slatcher, lighting director of photography Jean-Claude Kalache, camera director of photography Patrick Lin, and composer Michael Giacchino.

The titles indicate the subject matter of the clips. Most of them focus on the creation/evolution/animator of the story’s characters, and we also get into sets and score as well as some performance and plot areas.

Expect quite a few good details here. The featurettes dig into characters in a satisfying manner, as they provide many nice notes. The programs don’t combine to form a complete “making of” take on the movie, but they have more than enough useful bits to make them positive.

Next comes an Alternate Scene entitled “Married Life”. In this nine-minute and 12-second reel, we begin with a three-minute and 54-second intro from Docter, Nierva, Del Carmen and Peterson. They give us some notes about the montage that depicts the Carl/Ellie relationship over the years and chat about other concepts for it. We then watch a story reel that shows one of the versions of this. It’s much more comedic than the take used in the final film; I don’t think it would’ve worked as well, but it’s fun to see.

An Up Promo Montage runs five minutes, 52 seconds. This consists of a collection of little tidbits with a variety of movie characters. We’re never told where these clips appeared, but they’re consistently entertaining. Essentially they play like alternate/deleted scenes from the movie, so they’re a lot of fun.

Many Disney discs include games, and Up is no exception. The Global Guardian Badge Game sends you on quests to earn various badges. You can play at both “easy” and “hard” levels, and these require you to identify various capitals of states and countries. It’s an interesting learning tool, but it comes with a frustrating interface that makes it a chore to play.

Disc Two ends with a collection of Worldwide Trailers. We find two ads here, both of which seem designed for US consumption. Perhaps the same trailers ran all around the planet; if not, I don’t know what makes this set “worldwide”.

In addition, we find “Trailer #2” and “Trailer #3” – where the heck’s “Trailer #1”? Minor complaints aside, it’s nice to get these ads. Most releases these days totally omit original trailers, so I’m happy to find this pair.

A third disc offers a Digital Copy of the movie. This allows you to transfer the film to a computer or portable gadget. Party up!

Finally, a fourth platter provides a DVD Copy of Up. If you want to own Up but aren’t yet Blu-ray capable, it’s a good bonus.

After two movies that I liked but didn’t love, Pixar rebounds with the wholly satisfying Up. Sweet, funny and exciting, the movie is a consistent delight. The Blu-ray provides stellar visuals along with very good audio and extras. This is a terrific release for a very enjoyable film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.9333 Stars Number of Votes: 15
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main