At the time of this writing, Disney-Pixar’s Up has received a 98% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. That means that 98% of the nation’s movie critics have given it the “thumbs up.” Such a high rating almost never happens.
That said, any movie, no matter how great, can be over-hyped, which can ruin the experience. For example, Ratatouille received such acclaim that my initial viewing of it was met with disappointment (though I appreciated it much, much more the second time around). So, in the interest of not raising the bar too high, I will simply say that Up continues Pixar’s streak of excellence.
Combining poignant and profound themes with memorable characters and a contagious sense of adventure is par for the course for the group that brought us Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, and Wall-E. What do all these films have in common? They effectively tap into our childlike sense of wonder while never insulting our intelligence or emotional maturity (or that of children, for that matter).
Likewise, Pixar makes the most visually stunning and sharply humorous films of anyone doing animation right now. In fact, they make some of the best films, period. Up is no exception, and it ranks particularly high on my Pixar list because it did something the others didn’t. It made me cry. Twice. Up got me going, with a pair of wordless moments (one towards the beginning, the other towards the end) that drive home how precious of a gift our lives are, as well as the people in them.
Don’t worry, though, the movie is more of an adventure-comedy than a tearjerker. It simply has a beating heart, as the best adventures (and often the best comedies) do. It’s thrilling. It’s funny. For some reason I felt it dragged very slightly in the middle before kicking into high gear for the third act, but that’s a minor complaint for something so thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. Oh, by the way, I wanted to take Doug (the dog) home with me. You will too. MY GRADE: A.
For another memorable tale of friendship between the young and the old, take a look at the original Annie! Rent or buy it here.
Jonathan Decker is the clinical director of Your Family Expert. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, husband, and father of five. Jonathan earned a masters degree in family therapy from Auburn University as well as a bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University. He is an actor, author, and television personality.