American actor/director Hamilton MacFadden attended Harvard Law School before entering the world of the theatre. At first an actor, MacFadden decided that stage directing was his meat, and remained in...
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Pixar makes it ten gems in a row with this enchanting animated story of 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen a recent widower who decides to fulfill his (plus his late wife’s) lifelong dream of tying thousands of balloons to their house and floating off to a mountaintop in South America. But he soon discovers a stowaway in the form of Russell a precocious eight-year-old “Wilderness Explorer” who he reluctantly allows to accompany him on his journey. Together the unlikely pair embark on the adventure of a lifetime encountering Kevin a rare 13-foot tall-flightless bird; Dug an overly-friendly talking pooch; and Charles Muntz a once-famous adventurer who now lives alone in a massive airship surrounded by a pack of attack dogs.
WHO’S IN IT?
Sticking to their general custom of casting actors not big stars in key voice roles Pixar assembled a superb cast for Up led by veteran TV star Ed Asner (The Mary Tyler Moore Show) as the aged Carl who takes flight in his house and finds there is a lot to learn about life even as you near death. Asner’s grumpy delivery provides the perfect counterpoint to nine-year-old Jordan Nagai’s Russell a bright and optimistic kid who proves an invaluable assistant to Carl throughout their journey. Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music) is authoritative and intriguing as the obsessed Muntz and John Ratzenberger (Cheers) extends his streak of Pixar films to 10 as a construction engineer who tries to convince Carl to sell his house. Bob Peterson does delightful double duty as two of the key dog voices lovable Dug and the menacing Alpha head of the pack.
Like Pixar’s previous Oscar-winning masterpiece Wall-E Up is a ‘toon that is not content to explore the same places we’ve seen in previous animated blockbusters. Centering an action comedy around a 78-year-old man isn’t a strategy you’ll find in the youth-obsessed Hollywood recipe book but it pays great dividends here with a moral that life’s greatest adventure is the one you share with someone you love. The non-humans — particularly Kevin and Dug — are hilarious and unique and a silent sequence detailing the courtship and marriage of the Fredricksens is a sweet touch that could have come straight out of a Charlie Chaplin movie.
With a string of critically-acclaimed hits that includes Toy Story Finding Nemo The Incredibles Ratatouille Wall-E and now Up Pixar is ruining it for everyone else. There is simply no way they can be topped when it comes to pushing the boundaries of animated movies. Bad for other studios. Good for us.
Could Up which just became the first animated film to open the Cannes Film Festival also become the first to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar since Beauty and the Beast in 1991 (before the Animation category was even established)? At this point in the year it’s actually a good bet. Whatever the case expect Up to earn several nominations come Oscar time.
A swashbuckling swordfight across the skies between two near-octogenarians? It’s the best action scene in a summer full of ‘em.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
Oh pleeeeeease! Get to a theater fast. Up is also available in 3-D at select locations. Either way it’s a must-see.
American actor/director Hamilton MacFadden attended Harvard Law School before entering the world of the theatre. At first an actor, MacFadden decided that stage directing was his meat, and remained in this line of work until brought to Hollywood by Fox Studios in 1929. For the first few years of the '30s, it seemed as though every major Fox production was helmed by either MacFadden or his fellow contractee David Butler. It was MacFadden who launched the studio's Charlie Chan series with Charlie Chan Carries On and The Black Camel (both 1931); and it was he who was put in charge of Fox's "prestige" Depression-busting musical of 1934, Stand Up and Cheer, which was an artistic fiasco save for the presence of Shirley Temple in her first important role. Given the banality of much of MacFadden's work, one suspects he was kept on payroll at the behest of Fox executive Winfield Sheehan, who was famous for honoring friendships and favors at the expense of cinematic quality. Whatever the case, MacFadden was eased out of Fox when the studio merged with Darryl F. Zanuck's 20th Century Productions in 1935. By the end of the '30s, Hamilton MacFadden had returned to acting in supporting and minor roles; ironically, he was cast as a suspect in Charlie Chan in Rio (1941), a remake of MacFadden's own Black Camel.