Okay, so I’m not exactly quick off the mark with this one. Four months have been and gone since Up debuted at the cinema in both 3, and the more traditional 2, D formats. It’s probably been available to illegally download for a similar length of time and may or may not have arrived on Sky Box Office at the time of writing.

I skipped it at the cinema mainly because of its certificate and it’s interesting, to me at least, to think that I’m not shamed or embarrassed to sit through, say, Ninja Assassin, but will draw the line at anything with a U stamped on it.

In the comfort of my living room, then, I sat down to watch it with only half an idea of its premise but with a Ring style warning echoing at the back of my mind. Rather than, “watch this movie and you’ll die in 30 days,” it was more, “watch the first ten minutes of this movie and you’ll be bawling your eyes out.”

It speaks volumes of the power of the opening scenes that despite this warning and despite me tackling the film with an oh, we’ll just see about that attitude and despite a suspicion that it’s nigh impossible to connect so strongly in such a short period of time … sure enough, within ten minutes my throat was burning, I could only manage a stifled mm-hm when asked if I was alright and I was thanking God that I’d had the common sense to stay well clear from going to see this at the cinema and steaming up a perfectly serviceable pair of 3D glasses.

It casts its spell in such a hypnotic way. It focusses on faithful universal truths and places us inside an initially mute character whose simple passions can easily be related to our own. He’s a little ball of soft clay in those first minutes and in uncertain hands, he could’ve been moulded into something cheesy and manipulative, but Pixar are old hands at this kind of thing and treat proceedings with enough everyday realism to out trump these concerns. Everything that happens in the opening is there to serve the story as much as it is to play Duelling Banjos with your heart-strings. It feels consistent and honest.

Wall-E — another Pixar gem I ultimately enjoyed in the safety of my own home — probably holds its own in a head-to-head as far as emotional openings are concerned, but while I felt Wall-E started to suffer once the humans got involved, I didn’t feel Up flagged at all. Not once. My first thoughts as the end credits rolled were that I reckoned this is the best animated movie I’ve seen. Perhaps one of the best movies I’ve seen, full stop.

Visually, it was flawless. It’s difficult not to compare it with Dances With Smurfs. I don’t know which is technically better. I don’t want to know. I don’t care. I’m going to call Up just as impressive on that score if for no other reason than it succeeds on every level that Avatar failed — storyline, acting, drama, originality — and the sum of the parts has a positive effect on the whole, raising the bar for all attributes.

So that premise, then. Balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen, voice by Ed Asner, is recently widowed and battling against The Man who wants to knock down his house and stick him in a care home. Carl’s house and everything in it — down to the mailbox — has huge sentimental value and so, understandably, he’s less than keen to go along with these plans and would far rather sit in his old chair and think of better days when he and his wife planned to move to Paradise Falls; an idyllic little corner of South America (“It’s like America … but south!”). However, the court succeeds in forcing the issue, leaving Carl to seize the remains of his day. Whatever the collective pronoun is for a million balloons, that’s what he attaches to his house, dragging him up, up and away, to drift to Paradise Falls and realise the dreams he’d once shared. His first problem arrives moments later when tubby boy Scout stowaway, Russell, knocks on his door at 30,000 feet.

For 90 minutes, Up just delivers. It’s brilliantly funny, crushingly depressing, finely detailed, perfectly paced, breath-takingly dramatic and there’s a definite sense that behind each step the story takes, there’s real heart and matching purpose. And that hypnosis from the first ten minutes? That’s there in the bank, so the movie just has to snap its fingers and we’re eating out of its hand again. This is done sparingly enough to remain effective and timed just right to round off what ends up being a complete journey.

I rather liked Up. I feel better for watching it.

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