May 29, 2009 – The Pixar Film Up is Released to Theaters
“My name is Dug. I have just met you and I love you.”
On May 29, 2009, the Disney Pixar film Up was released to theaters. The film was Pixar’s 10th film, and the first released in 3D format. The film holds the distinction of being the first animated film shown at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as the second animated film ever nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award. The film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and Best Score. Up was directed by Pete Docter, with story by Docter, Bob Peterson, and Thomas McCarthy, and stars the vocal talents of Ed Asner (Carl Fredericksen), Christopher Plummer (Charles Muntz), Jordan Nagai (Russell), and Bob Peterson (Dug). As usual, Pixar’s lucky charm, John Ratzenberger, has a small voice role in this film.
The film tells the story of Carl Fredericksen, which begins with him as a shy boy whose hero is legendary explorer Charles Muntz. He watches a newsreel of Muntz, and is inspired to pretend he is having his own adventure when he hears a voice saying Muntz’s famous phrase: “Adventure is out there!” He enters the dilapidated house to see a girl pretending to be Charles Muntz on an adventure. Although a mishap causes Carl to break his arm, the girl, Ellie, comes to visit him, and tells him she likes him, as they bond over a love of adventure and an admiration of Muntz. This leads to a segment showing their lives together after their wedding day until Ellie’s death. Ellie’s death is hard on Carl, especially since he was never able to take her to explore Paradise Falls as they promised.
A while later, all the houses around Carl’s have been torn down for urban development, but Carl refuses to sell. He also runs across a young boy named Russell, who is part of a group called the Wilderness Explorers, and wishes to get his “Assisting the Elderly Badge” by offering to help Carl “cross something,” and Carl tricks him into looking for a snipe. A mishap sends Carl to court, where is ordered to leave his house and live in a retirement home. Unable to bear with parting with his and Ellie’s home, Carl uses his skills as a balloon salesman to keep the promise of the house landing at Paradise Falls: he attaches thousands of balloons to the house, turning it into a makeshift airplane, and Carl sets sail for Paradise Falls. Unbeknownst to him, Russell was hiding under the house at the time of lift-off, and becomes Carl’s accidental co-pilot.
After surviving a severe thunderstorm, the two find themselves in Venezuela, a bit of a ways from the falls. They attach themselves to the still-buoyant house, intending to walk it over to the falls before the balloons deflate. On their way, they encounter a large bird that Russell believes to be a snipe and names it Kevin (although Kevin is a girl), and a dog named Dug, who is able to talk through the use of a device on his collar. Dug has been on a special mission to “capture the bird,” which causes no shortage of trouble between Dug, Kevin and Russell that annoys Carl to no end. There are other dogs in the jungle searching for the bird, and when they run across Carl and his gang, they take him to their master: the one and only, Charles Muntz.
Although initially elated that his hero is alive, Carl finds out that Muntz has been driven to almost madness in his search for the bird that will clear his name. Muntz shows Carl helmets of explorers he’s met and killed, convinced they were there at the falls to steal his bird. Upon finding out that Carl has the bird, he decides he will kill Carl and Russell and steal the bird. At one point, Carl has to decide to either save Kevin or save his house, and when he picks to save his house, this allows Kevin to be captured.
Carl finally gets his house to the falls, although Russell is angry that Carl broke his promise to protect the bird. As Carl sits inside the house, he discovers Ellie’s adventure book from when she was a little girl, and finds that she has filled it with memories of their life together, and message thanking him for their adventure, and now he should find a new one. Inspired by her words, Carl resolves to rescue the bird. Russell, still angry, has decided to go on his own to rescue Kevin, and Carl has to rescue him with Dug’s help. There is a fight to the finish between Carl and his childhood hero, with Muntz falling to his death, and Carl’s house falling to the ground, which Carl accepts as for the best, as “it’s just a house.”
Kevin is reunited with her chicks, and Russell and Carl head home in Muntz’s airship. At the Wilderness Explorers meeting, Carl is there to give Russell the “Assisting the Elderly Badge,” as well as a very special badge – the grape soda badge Ellie gave to Carl as a child, known as “The Ellie Badge.” After the ceremony, Carl, Russell and Dug sit on the curb at the ice cream parlor, counting cars. The house is seen again as well – landing perfectly next to the falls.