Identifying with Carl's loneliness and love is also what drew Ed Asner to the role. "The unbelievable suffering, first of all, that I could see the man was going through, the conditions he was living under because of his tremendous solitude, his honesty, his character, his love for this woman, which one felt could never, never be challenged or replaced,"  Asner said. "But we find that the realization that as he [builds a] closer and closer relationship with Russell, that there's a value to be gained by forsaking the past and taking advantage of the present and using it to go into the future.  That's what I feel he does in this."

The emotional resonance elevates this movie from just another funny caper to one of the best films of the year. Carl may be just a crabby widower whom nobody notices, ready to fold up his life and fade away. Russell may just be another chubby scout walking down the street, headed for nothing special in life. However, there is a richness to both of them, their longings and loves and memories and courage, that slowly grows on the viewer. Their story includes a whimsical balloon ride and goofy dogs, but the heart of the story can be found just down the street, wherever someone lets go of the past and cares for the people life brings them in the present.

"Putting energy into life is important," Asner said. "Carl had stopped putting energy into his life.  He sits and dreams and relishes the thought of joining Ellie either on the mountaintop by some miracle or in death.  It's the same as a living death.  And along comes a change in circumstance, which forces him to acknowledge this boy.  And he chooses the living as opposed to death.  I think it's a wonderful example to follow for all people."  
 


Photos courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar.  Disney/Pixar's Up releases in theaters nationwide on Friday, May 29, 2009.  Read the full review here

**This article first published on May 28, 2009.