See Up at El Capitan

Contrary to what was suggested in the coming attractions trailers, there is quite a bit of sophisticated, adult story-telling in Pixar's latest computer-generated animation film. Instead of a silly fantasy about a grumpy old man and an annoying kid sailing through the air in a house lifted by balloons, you get a very rich film, filled with drama, pathos, humor, and action-adventure that pleased on almost every level, offering much for both children and their parents to enjoy. All that, and it's in 3-D, too!

I was particularly surprised that the plot centers around a journey to a “lost world” - a plateau in South American that bears a striking resemblance the the plateau in South America from th1925 silent film THE LOST WORLD, which was the first feature film to bring dinosaurs to life with stop-motion (courtesy of Willis O’Brien, who went on to KING KONG in 1933). There is something wonderfully cool about the visual reference, as it calls out to the Sense of Wonder that many of us felt as children, when we experienced so many fantastic adventures on the movie screen, which opened a window onto worlds that did not exist in the real world - but seemed as if they might, thanks to the incredible magic of the movies.

This kind of sprawling visual glory, filled with aerial excitementand vertiginous danger (which someone maintains its power to thrill despite the film’s good natured humor) is balanced withquieter character moments that engage the audience in a way that most summer blockbusters (see X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE or LAND OF THE LOST) fail to do. In a way, UP is a little bit like WALL-E, in that it begins with a long, essentially non-dialogue sequence that tells a very moving love story before the more conventional thrill ride begins, and although UP will not replace WALL-E in my heart, it deserves to stand alongside that masterpiece as another example of the seemingly endless supply of brilliant imagination and stunning crafstmanship that typify the Pixar output.

UP is playing all over town right now, but it's a sure bet that the best place to see it is at Disney's El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. They know how to project 3-D so that it looks great, and screenings are preceded by a live musical stage show starring characters from your favorite Disney movies. Before the morning shows on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, there is a one-hour “Character Breakfast”: you can come to the Disney Soda Fountain & Store next door to the theatre and have your picture taken with your favorite Disney character. Seating is limited, so reserve ahead of time.

There are discount prices from groups. VIP tickets include reserved seating, a soda, and a popcorn.

Location: El Capitan Theater - 6838 Hollywood Blvd. Hollywood
Website: Click here
Dates: May 29 through July 23
Show times: 10:00am, 12:45pm, 4:00pm, 7:00pm, 9:40pm (check theatre schedule - there may be some variations in times).