“Up”-lifting

Pixar’s tenth feature blows us away.

If this doesn’t look like super amazing fun, we don’t know what is! PHOTO COURTESY PIXAR

Ashley Goetz

If this doesn’t look like super amazing fun, we don’t know what is! PHOTO COURTESY PIXAR

âÄúUPâÄù STARRING: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer RATED: PG PLAYING AT: Area theaters The main character in PixarâÄôs newest gem, âÄúUp,âÄù is Carl Frederickson, a 78-year-old balloon salesman whoâÄôs recently widowed. Now, if major movie studios are to be believed, little kids donâÄôt want to watch old men grappling with grief onscreen; they want to see relentlessly annoying donkeys voiced by Eddie Murphy or computerized versions of cartoon characters like âÄúGarfield,âÄù which was apparently so popular it deserved a sequel. What do they care about the dentures-and-walkers retirement set? Ah, but thatâÄôs the catch. The folks at Pixar manage, with a little bit of sentimentality and a lot of action, to captivate both little kids and big kids alike. Could be a je ne sais quoi they found in market testing, or it could be the base appeal bunches of balloons have for children. âÄúUp,âÄù the 10th film in the Pixar canon, tells the story of Frederickson (Ed Asner, from âÄúThe Mary Tyler Moore Show,âÄù himself no stranger to playing a grouchy geriatric), attempting to make good on a promise he made to his late wife Ellie. That promise? To fly their house to a South American jungle called Paradise Falls (read: Venezuela), one theyâÄôve dreamed of visiting since they were children. What begins as a simple story of an old man dealing with his grief by simply floating away from sadness becomes much more: a treatise on friendship and family thatâÄôs a testimony to PixarâÄôs storytelling genius. âÄúUpâÄù is sweet and funny, but itâÄôs heavy stuff for little kids. The screenplay, written by Bob Peterson (who also wrote âÄúFinding NemoâÄù), never talks down to its petite audience, but instead involves them in the storyline, making CarlâÄôs sadness at his wifeâÄôs death understandable for all ages. An astounding amount of consideration has been paid to the very smallest of intricacies. The Pixar animators have thought to give Carl whiskers during a non-shaving adventure to Paradise Falls, given the human characters pores and fingerprints, the dogs locks of fur, Kevin the bird iridescent feathers. So much care has been given to the visual aspect of âÄúUpâÄù that sometimes it looks as though the scenery came from real life. Rocks have crenellations and treesâÄô leaves move with the wind. ThatâÄôs only a smattering of the attention to detail âÄúUpâÄù required; an engineer calculated exactly how many helium balloons it would take CarlâÄôs house to fly in real life (23 million), though less were used for visual effect (If you want to know, they animated 10,927 balloons while the house is airborne). Famous grumpy old men like Walter Matthau inspired our hero Carl, and animators fashioned Carl and wife Ellie in a manner to suit their personalities. Carl is square-shaped to represent his grounding in the house, while EllieâÄôs balloon-esque build symbolizes her flyaway spirit. âÄúUpâÄù is so impressive, both storywise and visually, that it was chosen as the first animated film to open the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Its director, Pete Docter (who also helmed âÄúMonsters, Inc.âÄù) was born right here in the metro âÄî Bloomington to be exact. Though his filmâÄôs gone to Cannes, Docter told the Star TribuneâÄôs Colin Covert he still sees himself as just a âÄúgeeky kid from Minnesota who likes to draw cartoons.âÄù And what heartwarming cartoons they are. Rating: 4 stars