This past weekend I was lucky to have a chance to catch the first 45 minutes of Pixar's new film Up. I was lucky because I had to beg my way in - the line was so long the IGN theater reached capacity immediately. Short of selling my soul, I was able to view a sneak peak of the film as well as a Q&A with the director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera.
Up is the story of Carl Frederickson's last stand to embark on the adventure he's always dreamed about. Frederickson, voiced by Ed Asner, is a 78-year-old balloon salesman and the quintessential grumpy old man. He's recently lost his wife and is spending his twilight years defending his home from becoming another victim of urban sprawl, like everything else in his neighborhood.
The next thing we know, Carl is sent to live in a convalescent home after being blamed for one of the construction worker's accidents. During his last 24 hours of freedom, Carl morphs his home into an all terrain vehicle by hoisting it far above the city by tying thousands of balloons to his chimney. His plan appears to go along without a hitch until we realize he's accidentally taken a stowaway along for the ride.
The stowaway, Russell, is a charming, hilarious and eager 9-year-old "Wilderness Explorer" who's working on getting his very last badge: For assisting the elderly. Comically, he decides Carl is the perfect candidate to help him achieve this while Carl thinks Russell is yet another person in his way. Together they are the perfect odd couple and their hijinx are endlessly hilarious.
Up is Pixar's second foray into animation with humans as the main characters. The first being their 2004 film, The Incredibles. Visually, the film is stunning and exactly what you'd expect coming from Pixar. The storyline breaks into two parts, the backstory leading up to the main character's adventure and then the scene change from the big city to South America.
Although I have only seen part of this film, I can tell you the third part will consist of the bringing the two worlds together in a way that highlights "the grass is always greener" theme from movies like The WIzard of Oz. That sort of seamless storytelling is what audiences have come to expect from Pixar films.
The only problem I have with the entire film is that I have to wait until May to finish viewing it.
Up opens on May 29, 2009.