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Pixar never ceases to amaze me. Each time they announce an upcoming release, I wonder, How on Earth will they ever pull this one off? A French rat who wants to be a chef? A clumsy robot that doesn’t even talk? An old man with a flying house? How can they make that work? Each time, I wonder if this will finally be Pixar’s first big loser. Yet, year after year, movie after movie, they continue to prove that there are apparently just a few sure things in life: death, taxes, and successful Pixar movies.

Up tells the story of a widower on an important mission. After losing the love of his life (in a surprisingly heavy and heartbreaking scene), Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) is devastated—and more than a little bit angry. In fact, he’s starting to be a bit of a nuisance. But instead of packing his bags and heading off to the nursing home, he decides to do what he and his wife always said they would: pack up their house and head to South America.

  
 
Carl’s solo adventure takes an unexpected turn, though, when he discovers a stowaway: loquacious, adventure-loving neighbor kid Russell (Jordan Nagai), who’s been pestering Carl to help him earn his last merit badge. And the two soon find themselves on a wild and crazy adventure through the jungle, accompanied by a gigantic bird who loves chocolate and a talking dog named Dug (Bob Peterson).

Like its fellow Pixar pics, Up isn’t the typical animated movie. It’s not flashy or kooky or filled with wacky slapstick gags and poop jokes. And, admittedly, that’s what often makes Pixar movies difficult for younger audiences to grasp—because they’re used to animated movies that talk down to them. Pixar doesn’t do that; instead, they offer the good with the bad, the laughter with the tears—and they wrap it all up in one big, beautiful package. And Up is no different. It’s sometimes a challenging film—especially during the melancholy montage of Carl’s life with his beloved wife. But it’s also a whole lot of fun.

It’s no surprise that the animation is absolutely stunning. Audiences have come to expect nothing less than animated art from the Pixar team—and they never disappoint. And, once again, they get it just right with Up—from the big picture (like the stunning views of the South American rainforests) to the tiny details (like the characters’ facial expressions).

But it isn’t really the animation that makes Up so much fun; it’s the characters. From determined old Carl and enthusiastic young Russell to colorful Kevin and lovably loyal Dug, each character gets a chance to shine. Each one has touching moments and funny moments. Each one gets a quotable line or two (though Dug gets some of the best—and most quotable—lines). Each one has his or her own story, too—and though some are more developed than others, those stories make the characters memorable (and lovable) in their own ways.

Up is definitely more mature than the average animated movie. It touches on a couple of difficult topics—and, admittedly, the first fifteen minutes or so might be a bit rough (and somewhat slow) for younger viewers. But it handles the issues well. At the same time, though, it’s also playful and exciting—and laugh-out-loud hilarious. The comic timing is perfect, and the dialogue is filled with lines that you’ll find yourself quoting for days. It’s the kind of movie that all kinds of audiences can enjoy. So whether you’re heading to the theater with the girls from work, your kids, or your mom and dad, Up won’t let you down.


Blu-ray 3D Review:
Up’s stunning South American settings are even more striking—and its high-flying adventures are even more thrilling—in 3D. But if you’re looking for more fun-filled 3D content on the film’s Blu-ray 3D release, you’ll be disappointed, since the 3D disc includes just a 3D copy of the film. Still, this five-disc collection also includes everything from the film’s original Blu-ray release: a DVD, a digital copy, and two Blu-ray discs full of features (see more on that below).

Of course, if you already own Up on Blu-ray, it probably isn’t necessary to pick up another copy just for the 3D disc. But if you haven’t already made this charming animated adventure a part of your Blu-ray collection, it’s definitely worth paying a few extra bucks for the 3D version.


Blu-ray Review:
Disney definitely went all out with the Blu-ray release of Pixar’s Up—adding one more disc to their usual three-disc combo pack. This time, in addition to a digital copy and a DVD copy of the film, the set also includes two feature-filled Blu-ray discs.

The first Blu-ray disc includes the main feature (with Cine-Explore commentary), along with two short films: Partly Cloudy, which ran before the film’s theatrical release, and the all-new Dug’s Special Mission, which follows poor, accident-prone Dug as he tries to impress Alpha and the rest of the pack. There are some alternate scenes, which show the Pixar team’s struggle to end Muntz’s storyline. And there’s the fascinating 22-minute Adventure Is Out There, which joins several members of the team on their real-life Venezuelan adventure.

The special features continue on the second disc, which includes even more making-of features—covering everything from character development to building the set to creating the score. If you’re interested in Pixar’s movie-making process, you won’t want to miss these short documentary features—if only to see all of the research that goes into making a film like Up (from observing ostriches to riding in a real-life dirigible). Other extras include another alternate scene (this one offering more insight into Carl and Ellie’s relationship), some promos and trailers, and the Global Guardian Badge Game—a geography-based game that looks like a whole lot of fun (though I couldn’t get it to work).

Of course, younger viewers probably won’t be all that interested in anything beyond the feature and the two shorts—and maybe the game (unless they’re considering a career in computer animation, that is). So are all of these extras necessary? Probably not. But they’re worth exploring nonetheless. And since they’re offered in nice, bite-sized chunks, it’s easy to pick and choose the ones that interest you the most.

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