Picks and Pans Review: Up

updated 06/08/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/08/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Voices by Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai | PG |

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BLAST FROM THE PAST!

ANIMATED
Fred, 9, my consultant on kids' movies, nailed it. "Pixar never disappoints," he said after seeing Up, the latest offering from the animation studio that previously gifted moviegoers with Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Wall-E and more. Fred got that right. Up, the story of a crusty codger who goes aloft on an extraordinary adventure after attaching a giant bouquet of helium balloons to his house, is pure delight from start to finish.

Carl Fredricksen (Asner, who's perfect) planned for decades to go exploring in South America with his beloved wife, Ellie. Now a widower and faced with moving to an old-age home, he instead takes off on that long-delayed trip. Unbeknownst to him, there's a pint-size stowaway aboard: Russell (Nagai), a Wilderness Explorer scout set on earning a badge for "assisting the elderly." The evolution of the friendship between these two, along with Carl's enduring love for his wife, imbues Up with a strongly beating heart. Early on, a montage shows the long arc of Carl and Ellie's marriage, poignantly—and wordlessly—illustrating how life's everyday shared moments (housecleaning, meals, a picnic) end up mattering the most. I challenge you not to tear up.

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