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REVIEW: UP

Our reviewer guarantees a Best Animated Oscar win

(L-R) Russell and Carl in "Up."

(L-R) Russell and Carl in "Up."

  • (L-R) Russell and Carl in "Up."
  • (L-R) Russell and Carl in "Up."
  • (L-R) Russell and Carl in "Up."
  • (L-R) Carl and Russell in "Up."
  • (L-R) Kevin, Russell, Dug and Carl in "Up."
  • Carl in "Up."
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A few weeks back, I caught TV icon Ed Asner in a one-man show called FDR at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts. I’m not usually a big fan of these types of performances. I think I fell asleep in the Mark Twain piece that Hal Holbrook did.

Since I didn’t know a lot about FDR (I also fell asleep in some classes in high school), it was interesting to learn about the White House during the Depression and World War II. And, everyone knows about his famous fireside chats, but I had no clue he was involved in an affair.

Clinton had Lewinsky – Roosevelt had Lucy. And, he was a four-term president.

Ed Asner did a few movies last year, and it seems he’s everywhere.

With this being the month of the Oscars, I thought it would be a good time to talk about UP, which will win the Best Animated Oscar, and it surprised a few people by getting nominated for Best Picture as well. Although with 10 movies nominated, unless it was Hellraiser 6 that got nominated, nobody should be surprised; especially since UP was arguably the best movie of the year. I’m saying that as someone that doesn’t give a ratatouille about animated films.

I never saw Wall-E, Monsters Inc., Cars, and so many others that people praised. I remember being disappointed by Shrek and, at that point, I was not rushing out to see animated films that all do the same thing. They pander to the audience, with childish bathroom humor and celebrity voices. There are often inside jokes designed for adults that don’t work.

When it comes to Pixar though, I’m beginning to think these guys can do no wrong.

This is the most emotional I’ve ever been watching an animated film (except when I was a kid and saw Bambi and Dumbo).

When I caught it at the Reading Cinema on Carmel Mountain, I had just missed the 3D showing. But even the regular version was fantastic. It’s out now on DVD, and it made for a great birthday present for the girlfriend. It’s the gift that the giver gets to enjoy as well.

Christopher Plumber, who was so good in The Last Station, plays an adventurer/aviator that’s a Howard Hughes type. He’s the only celebrity voice I recognized.

I had no clue who the boy was that played the Cub Scout character, but he was great. Your heart breaks when he tells the grumpy Asner about his dad living with his new girlfriend.

And instead of talking dogs that are voiced by famous actors, the humor and fun lies with what they are saying. All of us dog owners could’ve guessed that “squirrel!!” would’ve been 80 percent of their vocabulary, but it’s so much fun watching them shout it and stop in their tracks.

I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that after the first five minutes of this movie, I was balling my eyes out. It’s a montage done without dialogue that lets us see this old couple's life together.

I’m guessing this part of the movie is what saddled it with a PG rating, which is really a shame. It may deal with a death, and even a miscarriage (one of my friends didn’t even realize it was a miscarriage, so I’m guessing children wouldn’t catch that, either).

I once argued with a psychiatrist I played basketball with because he wasn’t letting his kids see The Lion King when it came out. The children were around 5, and he thought, with the death of the father lion, it wasn’t appropriate. I thought that was odd because often times when things are well done like this, it becomes a great educational tool for children. But hey…he’s the one with certificates written in Latin dangling from his office wall.

In UP, when the cranky codger flips the proverbial finger to the big business that takes over the land his house is on - and it flies up, up and away on a beautiful balloon…err…thousands of balloons - your heart will soar with him. We had already seen an intro that has us siding with why an old guy would be so stubborn about leaving his house, possessions, and other things that remind him of his wife/life – to go live into a retirement home.

I did wonder why the balloons looked more like gumballs. I also wondered why I loved the vibrant colors so much, yet I’ve had eye doctors tell me I’m colorblind.

But I digress.

And just when you think the beautiful balloons can’t be topped, we see the breathtaking South American landscape that the house soars over (note to self: find out if an animated picture can be nominated for Best Cinematography).

I didn’t care so much for the third act, which had dogs involved in a “dog fight” high above the clouds, but I’m sure those action scenes kept the kids happy.

I’m guessing UP is the shortest titled film to ever been nominated for an Oscar. And, with it going against Up in the Air, they become the only pictures to be nominated that start with the same word (excluding “the” and “a”).

There’s no way it will win Best Picture, but I bet it’s the only movie nominated in that category that everyone agrees was excellent. All the other pictures got mixed reviews and lots of debating (just check out the Avatar posts on this website).

It just goes to show that with compelling characters and great storytelling, animated pictures can truly be a great experience for the entire family.