The Cannes Film Festival entrusted its opening to a Pixar film, and the animation studio did not disappoint.
Pixar, which has produced such gems as “Toy Story,” “The Incredibles” and “WALL-E,” introduced its latest feature, “Up,” on Wednesday night at the French movie celebration. By critics’ reckonings, Pixar has never released a bad film, and those who saw “Up,” its 10th feature, say the studio’s perfect record is still intact. The film is a “captivating odd-couple adventure that becomes funnier and more exciting as it flies along,” wrote Variety’s Todd McCarthy. “The two leading men are 78 and 8 years old, and the age range of those who will appreciate the picture is even a bit wider than that.” Gallery: Pixar in pictures » “It’s a terrific family adventure,” wrote Peter Bradshaw of Britain’s The Guardian. “The 3-D presentation gives it a real boost, but this film is airborne because of the traditional strengths: story, characterization and inventive animation with the old-fashioned values of clarity and simplicity.” See the excitement of Cannes’ opening » “Up” concerns Carl Fredericksen, a balloon seller voiced by Ed Asner. Faced with eviction after his wife dies, Fredericksen decides to uproot himself — literally — by attaching hundreds of balloons to his house and flying it to South America.
However, it turns out he’s not alone. A stowaway — a Junior Wilderness Explorer named Russell (voiced by Jordan Nagai) — is in the house as well, and the two of them become mutually dependent after landing a continent away. The film opens May 29 in the United States. Cannes audiences are notoriously vocal. They’ll whistle if they’re unhappy — a French version of a boo — and a movie that doesn’t meet the audience’s high standards will be treated to the repeated “whop” sounds of theater seats banging shut as patrons leave. “Up,” on the other hand, received little but cheers. CNN’s Natasha Curry, who’s at the festival, reports a morning screening concluded with applause. It’s an unlikely film to be opening Cannes. Not only is it animated, it’s animated by computer — and, in some theaters, it will be shown in 3-D. Those are all firsts for a Cannes curtain raiser.
Cannes gets specs appeal as 3D ‘Up’ opens festival
But the Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan told CNN that “Up” fits in with Cannes’ aspirations. “Cannes likes to be seen as innovative, likes to be seen as embracing something new,” Turan observed. “But really the reason ‘Up’ is opening the festival is not because it’s animated, not because it’s 3-D, it’s … because it’s a wonderful film. [Festival organizers] saw that, and I’m sure they liked the fact that they could do something avant-garde in terms of technique, but really it’s a wonderful story, it’s a terrific film and that’s why it’s opening.”
Turan said he sees Pixar’s work, and its recognition by Cannes, as another sign that animated features are among the best films being produced right now. “The Pixar films, the Hayao Miyazaki films from Japan, the Wallace and Gromit films from Britain — we’re really living in the golden age of animation, one of the great ages of animation in the whole history of film,” he said. “And Cannes is happy to be part of that. Cannes is happy to recognize that.”