Director: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson Release Date: 16/10/09 Link: IMDB Well, the moment of truth is finally here. Back about two months ago when I reviewed Dreamworks’ “Monsters vs. Aliens” I wrote that I was pretty confident you would not see a more remarkable animated movie this year. I also stated I couldn’t see how Pixar Animation Studio’s “Up” would be able to outperform the sensational “Monsters vs. Aliens.” So, who wants to be the one to serve me a heaping plate of humble pie? To my defense, at the time I made those statements the only thing I had to go on was a single trailer that didn’t reveal a whole lot about the movie. All we knew was that “Up” was about an elderly sourpuss who ties hundreds of helium-filled balloons to his house and, with an uninvited guest, flies away to an unknown destination point. Not exactly thrilling stuff. But I guess I know now I should never doubt the master storytellers at Pixar. “Up,” from directors Pete Docter (“Monsters, Inc.”) and Bob Peterson (they also co-wrote the script), is as uplifting and colorful as the balloons that take 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Ed Asner) on the journey of a lifetime. Indeed, “Up” has first-rate animation and superlative voice work, but it’s the heartfelt story that cements its status as the best film of 2009 so far. “Up” has its fair share of humorous moments (more on that later) that will leave people young and old laughing, but it also doesn’t shy away from mature themes about the inevitable stages of life, and if the movie’s first 15 minutes — which includes one of the most memorable montages I have ever witnessed — doesn’t leave you choked up, you should check your wrist to make sure you still have a pulse. The 10th feature effort from Pixar begins with a young, goggle-wearing Carl at a movie theater watching his hero, the famous explorer Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer), an adventure-seeker who travels around the world in search of exotic creatures. On his way home from the show, Carl meets up with an enthusiastic girl named Ellie who, just like him, worships the ground the great Charles Muntz walks on. This first meeting turns into a friendship, which then transforms into a happy marriage that spans the course of several decades and goes through a number of highs and lows. Carl has always wanted to help Ellie fulfill her dream of traveling to the remote Paradise Falls in South America, but things just always seemed to turn up at the most inopportune times, and before they could take that trip, she died. All of this may sound deeply depressing, and it is, but “Up” starts to show its humorous side and becomes a lot more cheerful and thrilling when Carl forgoes moving to a retirement home and honors Ellie’s memory by using his flying house to complete the expedition to South America. But Carl gets more than he bargained for when he hears a knock on his door from Wilderness Explorer Russell (Jordan Nagai), a persistent and chubby 8-year-old who is obsessed with earning his “aiding the elderly badge” so he can be promoted to the senior troop. Carl and Russell may be separated by a huge generation gap, but once they land at Paradise Falls the unlikely duo ends up providing each other with the one thing their lives are missing the most: sincere companionship. Their awkward relationship generates a majority of the humor I was talking about earlier, but the comic situations that should have you laughing the hardest involve a golden retriever named Dug and his K-9 pals that can talk to humans because of special collars they wear that can read and translate their thoughts. Although it’s easy to get lost in the movie’s exceptional story and all the hilarity that ensues, I highly recommend that you take the time to scope out and pay close attention to the stunning beauty that comes from the bright and crisp animation. (Tennis balls soaked in doggy drool and white whiskers on a human’s chin have never looked so amazing.) “Up” is showing in both 2-D and 3-D formats, but the eye-popping artwork is bursting with so much life that failing to watch the film in three dimensions shouldn’t take anything away from your viewing experience. (I have only seen the movie in the 2-D and there was never a time when I felt like I was missing out on something.) Last week in my review of “Night at the Museum: Night at the Smithsonian” I mentioned how children would be able to find a lot more to like in that film than their mothers and fathers could. With “Up” you won’t have to worry about that problem. Actually, it’s probably the parents who will be walking out of the theater with the biggest smiles. Rating: 9/10