December 10th, 2009 DVD Reviews, Film, Xpress

There was something missing from The Incredibles, and this film is — while not a misstep — one of Pixar’s rare films that lacks a certain distinction. It’s nice, it’s cute, it’s sweet, it’s funny and it’s even sad, but the X factor from Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Wall.E that’s hard to pinpoint just isn’t to be found here.

Eponymous grumpy old man Carl (Asner) is about to be shuffled off to an old folks home from the house he shared with his wife Ellie, who we learn during the sniffle-worthy introductory coda has passed away, some of their deepest dreams unrealised.

It’s all very normal and everyday until the two nursing home guys come to pick Carl up, and then the film takes flight like a real cartoon as Carl’s roof opens and a thousand helium balloons explode out, tearing the house from its moorings to carry it aloft.

Carl’s embarking on his last adventure, to find the lost world he read about as a kid, the one he and Ellie pledged to visit and into which the famous explorer Muntz (Plummer) disappeared searching out years before.

But Carl has an unexpected stowaway, the annoying, egg-shaped boy scout Russell, who’s stranded on his patio trying to do good deeds as Carl’s house flies away.

The pair reach the lost land, befriend a bird a lot like the hero from the Pixar short For the Birds, and find Muntz and his band of specially trained dogs complete with the technology that allows their collars to translate their thoughts into words.

Dozens of in-jokes from Disney, Pixar, Conan Doyle and Apple history pepper the film which you’ll pick up on subsequent viewings, but it might end up the Pixar film you’re least likely to see again.

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