It’s opening night tonight in Cannes, as Pixar’s latest, Up, receives its world premiere at the Grand Theatre Lumiere — the main stage, as it were, for all films playing in the main competition – and marks the start of the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. The film screened for press first thing this morning and Rotten Tomatoes was on hand to gauge reactions from critics on the ground.
Up is the tale of Carl Fredricksen, a quiet, unassuming widower who’s being forced out of his home as big business builds around him. Missing his wife, the love of his life whom he met as a boy, and longing for the adventures they once dreamed of together, he attaches hundreds of Helium balloons to his house and heads for South America, where he hopes to relive the travels of his favourite explorer, Charles Muntz.
When a knock on the door signals the presence of an intruder — 8-year-old “wilderness explorer” Russell — his careful plans go a little awry, and when he arrives at his destination he finds that adventure is not without its problems.
Renowned as a studio focused on quality cinema, every one of Pixar’s nine films have received generally exceptional reviews, and all eyes are on Up to see if it could make the tally 10. Fortunately, things seemed to go well as this morning’s press screening. It’s a good sign when a press screening in Cannes receives a round of applause, but an even better sign when it receives another after the key credits, and Up can comfortably claim both.
Given that reaction, it’s not surprising to see a sweep of fresh reviews arriving.
Variety and The Hollywood Reporter published their reviews ahead of the screening. Writing in the former, Todd McCarthy says it’s “a captivating odd-couple adventure that becomes funnier and more exciting as it flies along,” and “an exceptionally refined picture; unlike so many animated films, it’s not all about sensory bombardment and volume.“
Time Out‘s Dave Calhoun gives it four stars saying, “Pixar triumphs again with a delirious fantasy that has one leg in the real world of hopes dashed and realised and the other in the cartoon tradition of journeying and adventure.“
Up‘s plot isn’t afraid to tackle difficult subjects, nor of placing its characters in real jeopardy, and it’s this daring to be different from the usual fare aimed at families that’s wowing critics. For
IGN, Chris Tilly explains, “Pete
Docter and his team of writers and animators never lose touch with the
relationship at the heart of the film – that of the bond between Carl and
Russell. Two lost souls, they start out a bickering comedy odd couple, but
gradually something far more profound develops, as man and boy finds solace and
hope in the friendship of the other."
Even the dissenting voices found it hard to be overly critical of a solid, family film. Kaleem Aftab, who will review for
The Independent, told us after the screening that he generally liked the film. “It had a fantastic start but a slightly disappointing ending. It’s typical of Pixar — nostalgia falls into sentimentality. [But] the first 50 minutes are great.“
Red carpet arrivals for the official premiere kick off shortly, followed by what promises to be a big afterparty on the beach later this evening. Preparations, including a scale model of the house from the film held aloft by hundreds of real helium balloons, are well under way for the event and, naturally, RT has a ticket safely in hand.
Stay tuned for future updates on the state of Up‘s Tomatometer and join us tomorrow when we’ll be exploring critical reaction to Andrea Arnold’s
Fish Tank – already gathering buzz — and Lou Ye’s
Until then, continue on to our official Cannes page
for more news, reactions, and photos from the festival!