Up, Up and Away!
By: Jerold E. Rothkoff
In my ten years in writing and publishing this Newsletter, I have yet to write a movie review –– until now.
If you have not already done so, do not walk, kindly run to see the movie, Up. The title is deceptively
simple, which is fitting, because the movie from Pixar Animation is deeper and more complex on every level
than it would initially appear.
It is a mismatched buddy comedy, the buddies being a curmudgeonly 78- year-old man and an 8- year-old boy,
who wind up together in a flying house, traveling to South America. Between the richness of the characters
and their interactions, it will not take you long to forget that Up is a cartoon and become immersed.
A life-altering meeting
We begin some 70 years before, when Carl Fredricksen was just a boy, worshipping the glamorous explorer
Charles F. Muntz. Even then, Carl moved with the quiet cautiousness of an old man –– that is, until he meets
the energetic tomboy Ellie, who brings out the fun he never knew he had inside him. Up shares their decades-
long romance in a lovely, poignant montage. It lasts just a few minutes without a single word spoken, but it
tells a full and satisfying story. Do not even bother holding back the tears: They will come, and deservedly
From there, though, there is nowhere to go but up, literally. Now a crusty widower facing eviction and an
antiseptic life in a retirement community, the former balloon salesman ties thousands of helium balloons to
his house and soars into the clouds. His eventual destination: Paradise Falls in Venezuela, where he and
Ellie always promised each other they would go. Carl has an unexpected passenger on his voyage: Russell, an
overeager Junior Wilderness Explorer who had knocked on Carl’s door hoping to earn the final badge he needs
to become a senior scout: assisting the elderly. They make an unlikely but lovable pair: the rigid Carl and
the cheerful Russell. Their bond is sweet, their journey joyous.
The beauty of Up is its message about the perils and promises of aging, and its ability to strike an
emotional chord that floats across any demographic divide. Kids will like it; but it will deeply touch
So many people find themselves grasping tightly to the past, holding onto things as if they were holding onto
life. But things are not life. Remembering the past is good – it reminds us of how we came to be who we are.
But clinging to the past is death, even if you are still alive.
In Up, what turns Carl around is the sense that he still has something to do. He was going nowhere, but when
circumstances intervened, he found that he was going somewhere. Carl thinks that the answer to his life’s
malaise is a trip to Paradise Falls to keep his final promise to his wife. But what he discovers is that his
life’s value is not merely in what has gone before, but what is still to come. In this case, Carl is
rejuvenated when he fights a new battle, sets off on a new adventure.
As people get older, they see less and less of life before them, so they are tempted to retire from active
pursuits and, instead, chase and hold fast to what has passed. We yearn for our glory days, replaying our
golden moments while present opportunities slip by.
We strive in our office, through our holistic Elder Law practice, to allow our clients, whenever possible, to
continue to live in the present. We love to hear our client’s stories of how husband and wife met or raising
their children. However, we attempt not to allow our clients to cling to the past. Our goal is to bring out
the “Up” in each and every client.