And while the film packs enough adventure within to justify its existence in the summer movie lineup, its emotional core is what separates it from the herd. Within the first 20 minutes, we are led through Carl's life with Ellie, from childhood chums to their twilight years in a montage destined to leave a basketball-sized lump in the throat of even the most hardened adult audience members. It also sums up Up – even though you build a lifetime of memories, it can all seem to whiz by us in an instant.
This is the studio's first foray into 3-D animation, but the magic occurs when Pixar is not trying to impress – a subtle float over a cloud line, a moment framed with our hero and an empty chair, formerly occupied by his wife. There are no paddleball shots, no whizzing rockets toward the audience, and it never feels as though it is a gimmick.
In fact, as outlandish as a film featuring a house tethered to helium party balloons should be, Up deserves its biggest praise for its authenticity. The bonds the characters develop, from Carl and Ellie's relationship, to the new inter-generational and inter-species friendships established, the film never strays from its compassionate core, without ever once pandering or feeling manipulative.
This is director Pete Docter's second directorial outing with Pixar (after peeking under the bed and in our closets with us in Monsters, Inc). And now that the makers have used the latest 3-D technology, they have created a film with all the depth they establish within their characters.
In a time at the box office marked by demographic-dominated films, created just as much by an advertising division as the filmmakers themselves, it’s also a triumph to see one that marches so proudly against the grain (summer box office heroes: Adam Sandler, Vin Diesel, Tom Hanks... Ed Asner?) and yet still connect with a large audience.
The only complaint I have is now that this is Pixar’s tenth release, they cause me to reshuffle my order with each new entry. Up is no different.