'Up' does what Pixar movies do best - puts seemingly unrelatable characters front and center, and makes them real and likable. This time around, the character that we get to fall in love with isn't a toy cowboy, monster, superhero or robot - it's a sad old man (voiced by Ed Asner).
The story is about a boy and a girl obsessed with travel and adventure who grow up, fall in love and get married. Though they live a content life, they never achieve those travel and adventure ambitions. Eventually, the old man is being forced out of his home, so he decides to finally go on their adventure - and to take his house with him, by using balloons. Up, up, up he goes - and then he discovers that a curious boy scout who had come to visit is up there with him. They make it to their destination, and adventure ensues, in the form of a rogue explorer (Who, I was delighted to find out, was voiced by Captain Von Trapp himself, Christopher Plummer), a mysterious bird, and dogs equipped with voice transmitters ('Dug,' a sweet, dumb ol' dog, has some of the best lines of the movie - I could watch a whole movie just about him. Squirrel!).
The movie starts out melancholy, and quiet - I was told to bring my hanky, and this was certainly good advice - but it moves along quickly enough. After the sad beginning, there is just enough action and humor to make you remember that this is, in fact, a kids movie. Your attentions is kept and your spirits are up throughout the whole thing.
As Carl, Ed Asner is perfect, equal parts grumpy old man and devoted husband. His evolution to friend/psuedo-grandparent is as satisfyingly joyful as his quest to achieve that one final goal for his wife is heartbreaking.
I love the idea that a kids movie doesn't have to just be loud and colorful in order to be appealing. Like 'Wall-E' before it (which I think I liked maybe .25 of a Twix bar more), what I really liked about 'Up' is the sheer intelligence of it: I love that there are enough layers to be good upon repeat viewings, to both children and adults.
8 Twix bars!