With films like “Toy Story,” “Finding Nemo,” and “Wall-E,” Pixar has already raised the bar on animated feature films.
Now comes the latest entry, “Up,” a delightful and touching experience that isn’t just one of the best films from the studio - it’s the best film to date in 2009.
“Up” tells the story of Carl Fredricksen, a 78-year-old who sets his sights on his lifelong dream - a trip to Paradise Falls in South America - by tying thousands of balloons to his house and floating to his destination.
Shortly after liftoff, Carl discovers he has an unwanted traveling companion - a young Wilderness Explorer named Russell (Jordan Nagai).
When a storm veers Carl and Russell slightly off course, the duo begin to walk toward their intended destination - hoping to get the house to Paradise Falls before the balloons run out of helium.
There is plenty to like about “Up” - from its gorgeous look to a surprisingly touching story.
The opening 10 minutes are some of the best, and most emotional, sequences of any film in recent memory, but are just the beginning of a movie that manages to interject some laugh-out-loud funny moments with a rather tender back story that tugs at the heart strings.
Asner is very good as Carl, while Christopher Plummer does a nice job as Charles Muntz - Carl’s childhood idol who has remained in exile in his quest to find an exotic animal in the South American rain forest. (Muntz’s pack of talking dogs provides some of the biggest laughs in the movie).
There isn’t a wasted moment in “Up” - making it that rare film that transcends its genre and creates an experience that can be enjoyed by moviegoers of all ages.
Also in theaters
For audiences looking for a slightly darker film there’s “Drag Me to Hell” (B) - Sam Raimi’s absurdly entertaining return to his horror roots. Despite its PG-13 rating, this is a movie that horror fans will love - full of dark humor, gross out moments and even a few scares.
“Hell” follows Christine Brown (Alison Lohman), a loan officer looking to get a big promotion. To impress her bosses, she shows she is capable of making the “tough decisions” - evicting an elderly woman (Lorna Raver) from her home despite the woman’s pleas for compassion.
Unfortunately for Christine, the decision proves to be a potentially fatal one when the lady attacks her in the bank’s parking lot and puts a supernatural curse on her.
Raimi, the man behind the “Evil Dead” movies, has always had a twisted eye when it comes to horror. Thankfully, he brings that approach to this project - creating a film that features as many laughs as it does scary moments.
The cast is fine, including Lohman and Justin Long as Christine’s fiance, but this is a film that clearly gets its lift from Raimi. The co-writer/director spares no expense to entertain his audience, with no possible plot thread too taboo (let’s just say when Christine resorts to sacrificing a small animal, the obvious gag is played to full effect).
And fortunately, Raimi keeps that same approach throughout the film - delivering a final shot that may disappoint some, but left the audience I saw the film with very satisfied.
“Drag Me to Hell” is rated PG-13 for sequences of horror violence, terror, disturbing images and languages and is now playing at the Greenwood Mall 10 and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow.
— Sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton can’t come to the phone right now. But if you’ll leave a message (or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org), he’ll get back to you as soon as he can.