Up: Unlikely Heroes

In this image released by Disney/Pixar Films, animated characters Russell, left, and Carl Fredricksen are shown in a scene from the film, "Up." (AP Photo/Disney/Pixar)

I was afraid that "Up," Pixar’s newest sensation, would turn out to be a mediocre, overhyped movie, but it wasn’t. Far from it.

"Up" was the best movie I’ve seen in a long while, with its unlikely heroes, talking dogs and the bizarre physics that allow a 78-year-old man to attach helium-filled balloons to his house in order to make it fly.

The house seems to get most of the time in the commercials and trailers for the movie, but in reality it’s the grumpy, curmudgeonly Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) and his hyper, odd little sidekick Russell (Jordan Nagai) who make the movie.

As the film starts, we see a retrospective of Carl’s life and his relationship with his beloved wife, Ellie.

When Ellie finally succumbs to old age, Carl decides to fulfill one of her dreams: having a house in the unexplored regions of South America. Instead of being boring and purchasing land in South America, however, Carl decides to simply bring his own house to South America… via attaching thousands and thousands of balloons to the house and steering it in the air with a weather vane.

The overly-chatty Russell just happens to be on the porch at the wrong time.

As usual in a Pixar movie, though, the characters and writing are far more critical than special effects and visual aspects of the production. Movie-watchers will empathize with Carl, Russell, the talking dog named Dug and even the villain at times.

The writing is snappy, with plenty of good lines as well as visual gags, and the characterization is perfect. Ed Asner as a grumpy old man? Yep. And newcomer Nagai as a breathless, cute little Asian-American kid? Yep. And the wilds of Venezuala seem almost like an additional character.

Despite the movie’s solid heart, it’s not a tear-jerker, although I certainly admit I cried at one point. It’s far more funny than sad, as Carl attempts to deal with the major problems of old age –when is it time to move out of one’s house to an assisted living facility? — as well as the minor ones — malfunctioning hearing aids, walking with a cane and dealing with aches and pains.

"Up" is a great movie for adults and I strongly suspect kids will love it as well, especially if they have a grandparent or important elderly person in their lives.

(I found myself remembering my grandparents and two older people who were just as important to me when I was little: Leonard and Lily Mae K. Most of you probably don’t know them, because they pre-dated my time in Jackson, but I’m sure most of you have an important elderly person in your lives. Today would be a good day to thank them, but then again, what day wouldn’t be?)