Last night I saw Pixar’s latest, Up. In a word: uplifting (okay, sorry, that was too easy). At this point, pretty much anything the acclaimed animation studio produces is expected to be wonderful, but I had my suspicions about the superlatives that critics and audiences alike had been lavishing on the film.

Russell, Ups hapless Wilderness Explorer, is dealing with his parents divorce. photo credit: amazonaws.com

Russell, Up's hapless Wilderness Explorer, is dealing with his parents' divorce. photo credit: amazonaws.com

They were all right.

I won’t go into too much plot detail, but suffice it to say, this film did not disappoint. Some story elements were slightly predictable, but overall the movie was full of surprises, both emotional and eye-popping. (My favorite part was The talking dog, Dug, who is constantly distracted by squirrels. The “joke” he tells about the furry creatures had me laughing long after the credits rolled.)

Dug, the hilarious, insanely lovable talking dog who -- squirrel! -- is easily distracted. photo credit: flickr.com

Dug, the hilarious, insanely lovable talking dog who -- squirrel! -- is easily distracted. photo credit: flickr.com

The film’s central focus is the relationship between Carl, a curmudgeon with a heart of gold, and Russell, a naive Wilderness Explorer. Carl is still dealing with the death of his beloved wife, Ellie. Russell is reeling from his parents’ divorce. In one of the sweetest moments of the film (and trust me, there are plenty), Russell talks about how his dad was supposed to teach him how to pitch a tent, and how the two of them used to go get ice cream, sit on the curb, and count cars together. “It might sound boring,” Russell tells Carl, “but I think the boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most.” Excuse me while I sob into my popcorn.

Carl eventually becomes somewhat of a surrogate father to Russell, and plays a pivotal role in an important event for Russell later in the movie. Their interactions are sweet and touching, but never cloying. The film does an excellent job of portraying the pain and confusion that children of divorce face without rubbing our noses in it; the word “divorce” is never said, only implied.

If you’re looking for a film that will make you laugh, cry, and then double over laughing again, Up is your movie. Just be careful swallowing your popcorn with that lump in your throat.

–Katie Nowak

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