They're all in place - the rubbery faces, the melt-worthy eyes, the bite-sized Reader's Digest style life-quotes, the bright scenery. Only, Disney-Pixar choose to have a grumpy geriatric as its hero this time.
Up is a fantasy movie - and it's hard to look at it that way, not just because it has elderly men playing a hero and the villain, but also because it juggles between real life and fantasy without bringing in mythical creatures and superheroes. If it helps, the flying house (the main protagonist of the move, actually) could actually be a throwback to Enid Blyton's brand of fantasy writing. With the philosophy of J K Rowling.
Carl Fredricksen is a bashful little boy who's wide-eyed about Charles Muntz, a famous explorer. Carl accidentally bumps into the spirited freckle-faced Ellie, a tomboy-sorts who just can't stop raving about her "adventures" and Charles Muntz - she wants to have a home on Paradise Falls, in South America.
The film then time-shifts and briefly wafts through their married life, in a most imaginatively constructed series of silent scenes set to some lilting music - a sequence lasting a few minutes, that could actually remind you of the Sankarabharanams and the Sagara Sangamams of our land.
That's when you realize that, at most levels, Up requires you to be a grown-up. Sure, coming up next is the cuteness factor brought in by exotic animals and super-intelligent dogs with attached translators, but Up is largely a movie about adult emotions like unfulfilled dreams and the meaning of life.
So in that little sequence, we are told that Carl and Ellie grow old together and keep saving up for their Paradise Falls plan, but never get around to doing anything about it. They don't have children either, and when Ellie dies, Carl is left alone and grouchy, sighing everytime he looks at the empty pages of Ellie's adventure album.
And one day he takes off. Using tens of thousands of helium balloons up his chimney, tied down to his hearth. So that he flies his home to Paradise Falls. This is when you begin to wonder if Up isn't asking too much of you - it wants you to be a grown-up and a kid, much like Wall E demanded.
Because on one hand is the improbable concept of an aged Carl flying with his house and even constantly steering it away from obstacles, with the house never once encountering air pressure issues or being hit by dangerous lightning - something that a kid would find easier to fully gleam with excitement at.
And on the other hand is the issue of appreciating what's being dished out on screen. The animation is impeccable, with every possible law of everday mechanics adhered to - the flying house bumping into a rooftop antenna, the strings holding the balloons being taut just so, the hair blowing at just the right velocity. And this is just the precursor of things to come.
Now, Carl is up, up and away, but he even has a stowaway, Russell. Russell is an 8-year old boy scout who initially came knocking at Carl's door in search of "Assist The Elderly" points that'll get him a badge to take him to the next level in "Wilderness Exporing".
Misadventures and more are in store for the unlikely pair, as they float to Paradise Falls. They encounter a troop of fiery dogs with translators attached to their collars so you can hear what they're thinking or, well, barking. The technology speaks of a higher force that's driving them, as Carl and Russell discover soon.
Along the way, it does give you several thrills based on the ballooned airship, and plenty of delightful comedy involving the child and his innocent eagerness to "assist the elderly man". There's a problem, though - for half the time, Up is a musing, leisurely paced movie, and not really a circus trip, so it does look a little too heavy for kids. The relish actually lies in the visuals and the humour, and adults with free time to think and absorb are what form the target audience of Up.
The movie even loses its pace towards the end. The chase that Carl and Russel go through fails to engage you, and the film does nothing to offset the weakness using dialogue in that part. It results with Up unfairly seeming a tad too long, and you're likely to have finished your share of cuteness by the time Up reaches the climax.
The leading voices have been credited to Edward Asner (Carl), Jordan Nagai (Russell), Bob Peterson (Dug, a talking golden retriever as well as Alpha, the Doberman and leader of the pack) and Christopher Plummer (Captain Von Trapp from The Sound Of Music, voicing Charles Muntz). Of them all, the kid is the most endearing pick of all, with the dogs coming a close second.
There is also lots of hurtling on the ground, flying between cliffs, wild wild chases on the hillside, and with the visual quality you can clearly expect. The background music adds some emotional weight to the narrative.
Up is sufficiently cute to warrant a look, and once you're in, it's pretty rewarding. It might not be around for too long, so now might be a good time to catch it.