We humans, are a strange bunch – some of us live in the past, either reminiscing the glories of our younger years or stuck in its mistakes; while some others of us spent our lives for a future – the quintessential hope that one day we will achieve our dreams and be truly happy; while still others try to capture happiness by enjoying life to the fullest, yet they too fall short. The pursuit for happiness goes on unabated for humanity.

Up is an academy award winning animated movie from Pixar, written and directed by Pete Docter and arguably one of the best movies till date to have come out of Pixar Studios. Up tells the story of the life, dreams and adventures of Carl Fredrickson, a retired widower who once dreamt to be an explorer.

The movie begins in the 1930’s, and the young Carl adores Charles Muntz, the famous explorer and dreams of growing up to be like Charles. At the height of his fame, Muntz is accused of fabricating the skeleton of an exotic bird that he claims to have discovered in Paradise Falls, South America. Humiliated and stripped of his honours, Muntz leaves in his airship, vowing never to return until he is able to bring back the original bird. The 8-year-old Carl befriends a girl named Ellie in his neighbourhood, who is also a Muntz fan and they both dream of one day going to Paradise Falls. As Carl and Ellie grow up, they get married and start saving for their trip to South America. Although Ellie is heartbroken on her miscarriage and on further knowing that they could never have a baby, their love soldiers on and time races on until they are both retired. When Carl eventually buys the tickets to Paradise Falls, before he can give it to Ellie she has a fall and dies unexpectedly.

Living alone, Carl has now become an irritable old man, who stubbornly holds on to their house and memories, although all around him the landscape has been transformed by the skyscrapers of the 21st century. When he is ordered to move into a care home, Carl turns his house into an airship with thousands of helium balloons and flies to Paradise Falls, as a gift to Ellie for the dream adventure she never had. However, much to Carl’s dismay, Russel, a young boy in search of his “wilderness explorer badge” becomes an accidental stowaway on the journey. Caught in a thunderstorm, they eventually reach Paradise Falls, but lands on the table-top mountain opposite Paradise Falls. As the helium balloons have started deflating, Carl and Russel decide to walk across to Paradise Falls, pulling the still buoyant house.

On the way, Russel befriends a colourful bird whom he names Kevin and a talking dog named Dug. Yet soon, they are attacked by a group of fierce dogs, who take them to their master. To Carl’s absolute delight, the master turns out to be Charles Muntz, who is still on the lookout for that mystery bird with his army of highly trained dogs. Carl soon realises that his childhood hero has turned into a monster while searching for the bird, which is in fact Kevin. The rest of the story involves how Carl, who for a long time is intent on holding onto his house and his past, realises that true meaning in life comes from helping and pouring out his life for others, and joins Russel as they fight Muntz to save Kevin.

Up touches upon and raises questions on many morally relevant themes, albeit in a subtle way. The loneliness of old age as well as a society that develops at breakneck speed at the expense of its weakest members is portrayed in the life of Carl. And the tragedy of divorce in the lives of young children and the lengths Russel goes to earn back the love of his divorced dad is a poignant reminder of the state of today’s families. Up is a remarkable movie that is well worth a watch for all ages.

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Joseph Anthraper lives in Southampton with his wife Mahima and kids Anna-Claire, John-Paul and Samuel-Joseph, and loves reading, movies and theology. He is part of the Kairos Global Editorial Council.