You want laughs? Sentiment? Human interest? Fantasy & action? Believable characters? Depth and layers of meaning? You want nearly two hours of animation at its best?
You've got it in Pixar's 10th flick. Most of the others were excellent, but "Up" tops them all, thanks to screenwriters Bob Peterson & director Pete Docter and their return to making animated movies that THEY BELIEVE IN.
Here's a basic plot that's been tested before: a lonely old guy who decides to fulfill the dream of his life, to fly off to a paradise in South America with his wife. Wife's gone, her place in his heart is sort of filled by the unexpected arrival of a chubby, nerdy kid (who refuses to take no for any answer) in a hate-then-love situation.
The old guy Carl (Ed Asner's voice), living alone in a home with sad memories, is now the oddball in a rapidly modernizing neighborhood; he decides to blow up thousands of balloons & fly his house off to Paradise. He does, but unwittingly takes along 8-year-old Russell (Jordan Nagai). They have adventures along the way - enjoying views from high above, landing in on exotic terrain, meeting up with talking dogs, a multi-colored "snipe," and another old-timer (Christopher Plummer) in a dog-fight to end all dog-fights - finally winding up just as any fine Pixar movie would.
Inventive! Scenes accompanied by Michael Giacchino's gentle, light-hearted music are created to swell the emotions while they feed the soul, beginning with the rising of the house - worth the price of admission alone - and followed by scene after scene, unendingly, to thrill people of all ages with imaginative touches you used to find in earlier Disney movies.
Details! Exacting creation of an aging, tired-of-life old man who walks with a tennis balled 4-legged cane and listens through a whistling hearing aid (a sound that terrifies dogs), his square jaw gradually revealing a minute growth of white; and a pink-faced kid with a rubber expression to suit all occasions. Shadows float across the landscape underneath, times of day sneak up as the landscapes change.
Message! Yes, there is one, and it cuts far deeper than the ubiquitous, superficial ones created for other animated films. You leave the theatre (after sitting through the marvelous final credits) with a sense of having experienced something wondrous, a feast for the senses and the mind. You feel satiated, more than you've ever felt before. Calling this movie a work of art, a minor gem, is not an exaggeration.