There's no doubt about it in my mind. Up is the best movie of 2009. No hippie blue cats, nor soldiers in Iraq, nor some Illiterate Basterds, not even a fat whining black bitch, and unfortunately not even the clueless Prawns can beat the 78 year-old man on the adventure of his life.
This is not just a movie, not just a work of art, it's an ode to all art created by man. It brings together the beauty of many different works such as the Wizard of Oz (the house gets caught in a storm and then almost magically appears in the fabled land), Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Arthur Conan Doyle's Lost World, Odyssey, Jules Vernes' books (obviously), Carmen, C. M. Coolidge, Dexter (as in Dexter's Laboratory you psychopathic serial-killer lovers! - see the episode where he makes a dog talk) and so on.
"Up" has everything! Adventure, action, battle scenes, a deep secret unknown to the common world, symbolism, witty humour, SQUIRREL!!!, tension, chase scenes, tough decisions (like in Matrix - the living being or your quest), a great story that actually makes sense, cool, lovable and smart characters, profound meanings and it's about The Meaning of Life.
When something happens in this movie, it doesn't just happen. It captures you and you move along with it. The opening part is a polished diamond in movie making. It's 15 minutes that not only narrate the whole life of a man and a woman, but sprinkle it with auditory and visual delight. The scene with old Carl waking up and coming to his porch, with Carmen playing in the background - it alone could be considered a masterpiece! If you are so stubborn as to not watch the movie, at least look at these first 15 minutes. If you watched it and were too blind to notice the brilliance, then watch it again.
The whole soundtrack is excellent. Nothing cheesy, besides that Carmen bit, it's basically the same frenchy "beginning of the cinema era" tune, but it works great with the movie's balloony narrative. There are bits here and there that you will notice, because they actually convey something to the atmosphere and are not just bolted to the movie because you need to have some music.
What I found interesting about the secondary characters is that they aren't typical. Usually in such animations, they are doofuses, that only cause havoc and somehow in the end their clumsiness saves the day. Not here. They are actually smart and do useful things. Sure, they are clumsy and say or do stupid stuff, but the creators of the movie took special care to give them another dimension as well.
The fat Asian kid, while annoying (as any child can be to an old man) actually helps a few times - he can apply a bandage, can see the storm ahead, and can even come up with such profound introspective thoughts as "I think the boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most". Dug is probably the dumbest, but not that dumb at all if you pay attention. And he is terribly funny and lovable. SQUIRREL!!!! And finally, they gave Kevin a deeper role, of a mother lost from her children, which gives her a meaning in this whole picture, and is not just a pain in the ass, that one side wants to get rid of, while the other puts all his effort in catching it.
And now, the amazingness again. They basically took great action scenes from iconic action movies and transplanted them into the humorous world of cartoons, while keeping the tremendous joy of adventure from the originals. Does the scene where they flee from Muntz's dogs, swinging from a rope between the stone pillars look familiar? That's Indiana Jones and the Nazis. Then they took Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader and turned it into a grandpa battle of epic proportions of comedy. I can't think of a single person who won't laugh when they see this scene. And what about that canine X fighter squadron, with squishy bones for gun triggers? That's pure comedic brilliance!
Finally, I'd like two end with some amazing shots from the movie, which I think alone should be regarded as masterpieces. (yes, I know, I'm repeating myself)
Compare these two:
And then these two:
I'm beginning to like this:
(If you don't what the second one is, it's from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
Ok, last one:
Ah, yes. One more thing. Catchphrases. "I see you"? Who the hell is the marketing genius who thought that one up? I'm laughing right now. Probably there wasn't enough budget because of all the state-of-the-art IMAX filming and they just jotted that one down. "Cross your heart". Now there's something all of us can relate to!
I could really dissect each and every frame of this movie, but I'm aware that I can't give the movie enough credit. Not barely! It's really that stunning, inspiring, relaxing, funny and profound!
But in the end it's just:
Ashes to ashes,
Dust to dust,
Houses in clouds....