Movies

Up Used To Be My Favorite Pixar Movie, But After Watching It Again, I’m Not So Sure

It’s been 15 years since fans first learned “adventure is out there” with Carl and Russell in Pixar’s Up. Like many fans of the animation studio, I keep a running list of what I consider their best movies, and Up has always remained in my top 5. After rewatching the movie to celebrate the exciting anniversary, however, I’m not so sure it deserves such a high spot in my personal ranking of the best Pixar movies. 

Up’s release in 2009 was a monumental milestone moment as it marked the animation studio’s tenth feature-length film. Since then, they’ve churned out some of the best family movies and are about to do it again when their project 2024 movie schedule Inside Out 2 hits theaters on June 14th. With almost two dozen films released after it, it’s no surprise the adventure movie has shifted in my personal rankings. However, it’s not just the studio’s iconic filmography that is responsible for my opinion changing, but also the plot of Up that often gets overlooked when fans talk about it. 

Up Used To Be My Favorite Because Of The Love Story 

There have been a lot of heartbreaking opening scenes in Pixar movies, but the beginning montage in Up has always ranked high on the unofficial list. Despite making me cry every time I watch it, getting to witness Carl and Ellie go from adventurous children to a loving, married couple is always a treat. 

It’s Carl’s love for Ellie that has always made me adore the movie, and it’s why I’ve thought so highly of it for so many years. Few male characters would go to the lengths he did to ensure his wife got what she always wanted, even in the afterlife. The best part is that Ellie didn’t even need to reach Paradise Falls for her life to be worth it. She found adventure in the simple things she experienced with Carl, and that is somehow even more romantic than his grand gesture. 

Beyond the romantic love story, Up has always tugged on my heartstrings thanks to the unlikely parental relationship Carl finds himself in with Russell and Dug. Though he’s reluctant at first, he ends up finding a place in his heart to welcome them into the next chapter of his life, and how could you not love that?

But After Rewatching, I Realized I Don’t Really Care For Most Of The Plot 

There is no denying that Up remains one of Pixar’s best love stories, however, it’s only one small piece of the actual plot of the movie. When I sat down to rewatch it, I completely forgot about the action part that happens after Carl crosses paths with his childhood hero and explorer, Charles Muntz. Despite initially being ecstatic about meeting him, it becomes clear that Muntz is not a good person and, instead, is one of Pixar’s most horrible villains

Thanks to Dug’s reckless nature, Muntz manages to capture Kevin, the local bird he’s been after for years, and he sets Carl’s house on fire in the process. Ultimately, Carl chooses to save his house instead of helping Russell save Kevin, which creates a rift between the pair. It isn’t until he learns that Ellie saw their life together as an adventure that Carl realizes he’s made a mistake and springs into action. 

The rest of the film follows Carl as he faces off against Muntz in the hopes of rescuing Kevin and keeping Russell safe. I know the movie begins with footage of the explorer’s endeavors, and it’s fitting for Carl to go on a life-threatening adventure in the wake of everything he’s learned, but it still feels slightly out of place for a movie that moves at a much slower pace for the majority of its runtime. 

After watching, I felt blindsided by the sudden genre and pacing shift, which was the catalyst for me wondering why I’d held Up on a pedestal for so long. If I wanted to watch an animated action movie, I would have chosen to watch The Incredibles or even Cars 2. Not to mention, the resolution between Carl and Muntz is quite dark, with the latter falling to his demise because of his hyperfocused goal of capturing Kevin. 

I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving aspects of Up, like the love story and Carl’s relationship with Russell and Dug. However, I can’t call it one of my favorite Pixar movies anymore since I don’t like a third of the actual story. The shift in my opinion was shocking at the moment, but as I’ve reflected, it’s begun to make sense. It’s only natural for my position on the movie to change, especially when re-considering the story as a whole as well as the impressive lineup of films that have come since its release. 

It might not rank in my top 5 anymore, but it’s still a Pixar movie worth rewatching from time to time. You can stream Up with a Disney+ subscription, which is also where you can see the brand-new short that marked Ed Asner’s final performance as the beloved Carl. 

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