DVD of the Week – Review of Up (2009)
by RISHI AGRAWAL
I’m not a huge fan of animation, but the Pixar films consistently deliver, and Up is no exception. If you happened to miss the film in the theaters (for shame– it looked pretty damned amazing in 3-D), then this is your opportunity to watch a very good film. You can argue about whether the Pixar films are great (sometimes the films are more entertaining than good) or whether this is one of the better films in the franchise (the final act of Up is fairly predictable), but I feel sorry for anyone who says that Pixar films are not worth watching, because that would mean their inner child has died.
At the heart of the film, is Carl (voiced by Ed Asner), a widower who sets his house aloft with balloons, in order to have an adventure that he always wanted to have with his wife. Could you imagine a corporate meeting where some executive suggested that old people and death would be popular with the kids? But this is why Carl works as a character– he’s not in the film because of his merchandising potential, but because the plot demands it. Simply put, Carl’s story is a good one.
Towards the beginning of the film is a heart-rending montage of Carl and Ellie’s lives together, expert in its handling of both exposition and emotional resonance. Then we get into the plot itself, complete with balloons, an adorable Asian-American boy, a tropical jungle, and dogs with collars that allow them to talk. I will admit that all those things have tremendous marketing potential, but the animation in this film is breathtaking, the characters are believable, and the dogs are really quite funny.
Up comes in one disc, two disc and Blu-ray versions. The one disc version just has the film, and a couple animated shorts (“Partly Cloudy,” which aired before the theatrical release and “Dug’s Special Mission,” created for the DVD). If you get the two-disc version, other features are added, including a commentary track by directors Pete Docter and Bob Peterson as well as some alternate endings. And if you get the Blu-ray version then, well, you’ll get all of the above and learn pretty much everything you wanted to know about the making of Up.
Other new releases this week: The Ugly Truth