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Heroes of the Zeroes: Up

by on November 13, 2010
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Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Up”
Rated G
2009

Lifelong companionship can be a treehouse for two, a haven where everyday occurrence elevates into unforgettable memory — shared silly in-jokes, dozes turning into cuddling naps, meaningful words of encouragement.

We compile these blessings of time to combat its curse: It quickens as we slow, forcing us to clear shelf space for dreams and gird ourselves against the inevitable.

This is how 2009’s “Up’s” wordless opening montage left audiences speechless: As Carl and Ellie Frederickson age, viewers felt their love and wept for time’s crushing blow. Pixar’s most devastating prologue earned its saltwater. But it preceded a joyous story of floating test balloons on new friendships.

At 79, Carl has a bread-loaf face, bad hearing, beady eyes, eyebrows as thick as a push-broom and a dozen deadbolts on his domicile — designated for demolition by developers.

Russell is an ambitious scout seeking a badge to help Carl cross the street. But he’ll help Carl navigate something more dangerous than traffic — an Evel Knievel-sized chasm Carl has created between youthful idealism and septuagenarian rage.

Their inventive odyssey involves flying homes, flightless birds, talking dogs and the importance of promises made — buoyed by playful wit, beautiful color schemes and Michael Giacchino’s swooning score.

In some ways, adventure is about escaping death’s closure, but it’s also about clinging to life’s openness — letting one escapade’s end evolve into something new. Not only a tremendously affecting story about indomitable love, “Up” reminded us it’s never too late to embrace the possibilities we felt when we were small.

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