Another easy winner from Pixar, the colorful, emotionally charged Up is their tenth feature and shows the studio at the height of its creative powers.
Ed Asner provides the voice of Carl, a cranky old man mourning the loss of his wife, Ellie. The film's much-discussed prologue, which includes a dialogue-free montage of Carl and Ellie's life together, is arguably the finest, most moving piece of filmmaking that Pixar has ever done. The momentum continues as Carl decides to evade being whisked off to assisted living by constructing his already iconic "balloon house", determined to float to a secret waterfall in South America in order to fulfill Ellie's lifelong dream. Along the way he picks up - pun intended - an enthusiastic young scout (an indiscriminately Asian American boy voiced by Jordan Nagai) and they set off for adventure.
While it's pointless for me to look for faults in such an endearing movie, the standard Pixar chase scenes and zany characters that fill out the rest of the story are almost a letdown after the beautiful and deeply human first act. Luckily, Docter and writer/codirector Bob Peterson know that Carl's relationship with his late wife provides the meat of the story, and they bring it back for powerful impact guaranteed to water the eye of many a moviegoer.
In the end, Up's deepest resonance may be with the happily married, for it is a celebration of lifelong devotion between a loving couple. In light of this, the rest of the story - inventive though it may be - is soon forgotten. I wish I could have seen a version of Up in which Carl and his floating house simply wandered the world and interacted with people, although after the aimless Cars, it may be that a Pixar movie is not the best outlet for pontificating about the vagaries of existence.