"Adventure is out there!"
Up is the story of a septuagenarian named Carl Fredricksen (Edward Asner) who had promised his wife, Ellie, that they would one day have an adventure and move to Paradise Falls in Venezuela like their childhood hero, Charles Muntz. However, life got in the way of them doing it -- repeatedly -- and she passed away before they could. Carl, guilt-ridden, shuts himself off from society in the house they built together. When land developers threaten and scheme to destroy their home, Carl decides to take action and fulfill his promise to his wife. Being a retired balloon man, he ties thousands of helium balloons -- the leftovers of his old trade -- to his house and sets off for Paradise Falls. He has an accidental stowaway in the person of Wilderness Explorer Russell, who has been trying to earn his "Assisting the Elderly" badge by helping Carl.
There's more to it than that, of course, but it's hard to give away without spoiling. Suffice to say, traveling thousands of miles in a house lifted by helium balloons is probably the least adventurous thing Carl and Russell do....
Up is Pixar's tenth film and their first full-length 3-D film. It has the honor of being only the second animated film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, following Beauty and the Beast; it's also the first fully-CGI film to be honored with the nomination. While the film didn't win that award, it did get Pixar another Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film, as well as the Oscar for Best Original Score for composer Michael Giacchino.
If you want to know more-- SQUIRREL!
- Adorkable: Russell and Dug.
- Adventurer Outfit
- Affably Evil: Muntz. Polite and reserved... but for the love of God, don't make him think for one second you're going to "steal" Kevin, or else you'll find out just how off his rocker he really is.
- Airborne Aircraft Carrier: Unusually for this trope, zeppelins actually were used this way.
- Air Vent Passageway: Dug and Carl use it to sneak into Muntz's airship to rescue Kevin.
- Ambulance Cut: When young Carl tried to retrieve his balloon from the attic of the old house, there's a huge hole in the floor with one rickety board across it. You can probably guess what happens next.
- Amplified Animal Aptitude: Dug and the other Spirit of Adventure Dogs. They are pretty much Muntz's butlers. Epsilon can cook. They can fly airplanes! Kevin is also pretty smart.
- Angry Guard Dog: Muntz has an entire team of them. Alpha stands out as the meanest and angriest.
- Animation Anatomy Aging
- Artistic License Physics
- Carl and Russell can transport the floating house by harnessing themselves to it and walking along the ground.
- The idea of a steerable sailing balloon, indeed any balloon at all, being able to do anything at all bar run directly before the wind... that most certainly breaks the laws of physics. The only reason a ship can do it is because part of it is immersed in a dense medium that the wind has a velocity vector relative to.
- The MythBusters tested (not specifically) this myth. You'd need about that many balloons to lift a 6-year-old girl, let alone a house.
- Carl being able to maneuver the house on its rope/hose during the chase scene.
- The house pretty much stayed intact after being lifted up, despite being separated from its key structural support -- the foundation.
- Attention DeficiSQUIRREL!: All of the dogs seem to have thi--SQUIRREL! One of the pilot dogs, after being defeated, says "I hate squirrels!"
- Audible Sharpness: Muntz's sword during his and Carl's fight on the Spirit of Adventure.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: Tweaked examples.
- Dug defeats Alpha and the rest of the Muntz Dogs immediately treat him as the new Alpha. To his astonishment. Inverted, in a sense: Alpha is the one who is "crowned," with the Cone of Shame.
- During Russel's ceremony for the badge pinning, Carl pins on "The Ellie Badge", the first keepsake he ever got from Ellie, in lieu of the "Assisting The Elderly Badge".
- Babies Ever After: In the credits, Dug finds a female dog that looks a lot like him and they have many puppies.
- Badass Baritone: Alpha, but only when his collar is working properly.
- Badass Grandpa: Carl, after a certain point in the story.
- Balloonacy: Could be titled Balloonacy: The Movie. Or the trope could be called "Carl Friedicksen's house".
- Behind a Stick: Kevin tries to hide behind a tall narrow rock at one point.
- Berserk Button
- For Carl, messing with any of his Ellie-related treasures. When he fulfills the adventure he promised Ellie, he overcomes this and throws the vast majority of the treasures out of the house so it's light enough for him to go after Russell.
- For Muntz, Kevin. Because he's been trying for well over sixty years to capture her, you'd do well to try and steer clear of both of them, if you know what's good for you...
- Big Friendly Dog: Dug, and the only one out of Muntz's pack. He is, after all, a golden retriever. To wit:
Dug: I have just met you, and I love you!
- Bilingual Bonus: Dug is telling Russell to stop playing with his collar (in the same sentence) in several languages, though he gets cut off in Japanese.
- Birthday Tropes: Dug's short reveals that the day he met Carl and Russell was also his birthday, and that he'd made a special wish: to get a new master. Awww.
- Blowing a Raspberry: On a Missing Trailer Scene, Carl blows a raspberry at the nursing home orderlies as his house floats away. In the final scene, he just says, "I'll send you a postcard from Paradise Falls." Had he actually done it, it would've made the scene ten times funnier.
- Bomb Whistle: Russell's GPS and other things make a whistling sound when falling.
- Book Ends: When Carl takes off right in front of the Shady Oaks nurses, he shouts to them, "So long, boys!" In the short George and A.J., when he comes back in the zeppelin and "bumps" into the nurses again, he shouts to them "Afternoon, boys!"
- Broken Pedestal: "I finally meet my childhood hero, and he's trying to kill us. What a joke."
- Bully Bulldog: Gamma. Relatedly, Alpha and Beta are a Doberman and a Rottweiler, two other breeds known for aggressive behavior. Dug, obviously, is a golden retriever.
- Call Back: "Don't jerk around too much, kid."
- The Cameo: John Ratzenberger's traditional cameo, this time as the construction worker at the start of the film that tries and fails to carry on a conversation with Carl.
- Cannot Tell a Joke: Dug. Of course, that might be because he's a dog, and this might be legitimate dog humor...
Dug: Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, "I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead." Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead.
- For most people, it's So Unfunny It's Funny.
- Can Not Tell a Lie: If only Russell were to lay low about his discovery, then they would have given Muntz a harder time in finding Kevin. But he, being the naïve boy, tipped Muntz off to the bird's existence, and therefore, Muntz wouldn't have tried to kill them. But then again, much of the conflict in the movie would've been sapped.
- Captain Obvious: Dug. Especially in Dug's Special Mission.
Dug: Now I am going down the hole. It is dark in the hole.
- Cassandra Truth: Charles Muntz. His discovery of the Beast of the Falls in the beginning of the movie got him ridiculed as a liar. It went downhill from there.
- The Cat Came Back: Carl attempts to ditch Kevin and Dug in the jungle, with predictable (yet hilarious) results.
- Catch Phrase
- "It's none of my concern."
- "Adventure is Out There!"
- "The Wilderness must be explored!"
- "Cross your heart."
- Cheerful Child: Russell, duh.
- Chekhov's Gun: Tons of them.
- Ellie's childhood control mechanism gets used as the steering controls for the house.
- Then: "Bird, chocolate!"; "A ball!", SQUIRREL!, the Leafblower, ALL THE BALLOONS, and even Chekhov's airplane, which was visible in the background several scenes before it was used.
- Also provides an aversion. It looks like Carl's hearing aid feedback tone will become helpful later on, given that it's demonstrated that the dogs react badly to it but it never makes a return. DVD Commentary states that they had planned to use this one, but weren't able to do so in the finished product.
- Kevin's labyrinth, where once you get in, you can't ever get out, is another aversion. This was an idea for what would happen to Muntz that was abandoned.
- After the house lands, the rest of the film is a succession of Chekhov's Guns being fired. First, the Adventure Book appears again, and Carl finally turns the page. Then Russell uses the balloons and leaf-blower. Dug hides under the porch, as Russell did earlier. Dug uses "point!" again, followed by "who wants the ball?". Dug ends up fighting Alpha, and utilises the cone of shame - Alpha's higher voice returns. Carl uses the Wilderness Explorer call to motivate Russell in climbing the hose. Russell then uses SQUIRREL! Finally, the chocolate returns.
- The prologue is not exempt from this either. When pretending to fly as a kid, Ellie mentions "seeing" a puppy and a storm. Carl also promises to take her to Paradise Falls in a blimp, exactly what he does if you consider the house as her.
- Even Kevin gets in on the fun. When she and Carl first meet, she tries to swallow his cane (thinking it may be food to forage for her chicks), chokes, and coughs it back up. When she's returned to the labrynth, she does it again -- as a farewell ritual. And she teaches her CHICKS to do it too, with the tennis ball feet of the cane!
- Childhood Friend Romance: Carl and Ellie, victorious type. Possibly deconstructed with Carl breaking after her death as a result of losing both his best friend and wife at the same time.
- Children Are Innocent: See the Wide-Eyed Idealist entry below.
- Combat Pragmatist: Subverted. Muntz starts the fight between him and Carl with a claymore, but eventually stops to grab a lever action shotgun. Which is rather odd considering the movie's audience.
- Compressed Hair: When young Ellie takes off her flying helmet.
- Cone of Shame: Trope Namer. The dogs use it as a humiliation device.
- Cool Airship: Both the Spirit of Adventure and Carl's house.
- Cool Old Guy: CHARLES. MUNTZ. Seriously, the guy's well over 100 and he can still hold his own in a sword fight. And, of course, Carl Fredricksen for being a Badass Grandpa. Of course, they're fighting each other, so they're in roughly the same physical condition.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: The real estate guy who made Carl out to be a public menace after Carl hit one of his employees with a walking stick just so he could have him sent to a retirement home and thus remove the only obstacle to getting Carl's land. For some he is the only real evil character of the movie.
- Counting to Three: Carl planned to, but found something better. Still, he invoked it.
- Crack! Oh, My Back!: During the big fight between Carl and Charles. They're going at it Errol Flynn style, but their advanced age causes them to crack when they lift their weapons.
- Creative Closing Credits: The credits are in the style of Ellie's scrapbook and some of the pictures in the scrapbook correspond to the job of the person being credited.
- Dark Reprise: The first song heard in the film is Charles Muntz's theme, a jaunty and optimistic tune that represents the inspiration he brings to Carl and Ellie. When Carl meets Muntz at Paradise Falls and his theme returns, it gradually takes on a far more sinister tone as his true intentions are revealed.
- Daydream Surprise: Carl dangling Russell out the window by a Bedsheet Ladder. And dropping him.
- Dead Man Writing: Ellie's final words to Carl, lovingly written on the last page of her Book of Adventure.
- Defictionalization: Though it lacks the balloons and has a basement, someone built a real-life copy of Carl and Ellie's house, complete with a painting over the fireplace. In Herriman, Utah.
- Still, a group of people actually did manage to float a house using helium-filled balloons - appropriately enough, for a TV show called How Hard Can It Be?
- Delusions of Eloquence: Alpha tends to do this.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Ellie's statement on the continent she wishes to live in at the start of the movie.
Ellie: South America! It's like America... But south!
- Disappeared Dad: Russell's father isn't around much.
- Disney Villain Death: Charles Muntz. It really does not get more dramatic than falling to one's death from 10,000 feet.
- There's a special feature on the DVD where the writers note how they were tired of the go-to "villain dies by falling" Disney ending and struggled hard to avert it, but it ended up being inevitable given the film's subject matter.
- Does Not Like Shoes: As a child, Ellie is barefoot in both of her scenes.
- Don't Explain the Joke: "It is funny because the squirrel gets dead!"
- Downer Beginning: By the end of the montage of Carl and Ellie's life together, you will probably be reduced to tears.
- The Dragon: Alpha, to Charles Muntz.
- Dumb Is Good: Dug is noticeably stupider than all the other dogs, who can talk in complex sentences and even, in at least one case, cook. The dogs themselves are not that intelligent, but they're still smarter than Dug.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Just after Carl has taken off, when his house flies by the little girl's apartment window, she has a Lotso Huggin' Bear (from Toy Story 3) in her room.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: There may have been a total of ten minutes that wasn't downbeat.
- Egomaniac Hunter: Charles Muntz has become one of these, ad nauseum.
- Enforced Method Acting: Used extensively for Russel's lines.
- Enter Stage Window
- Evil Counterpart: Muntz to Carl. Both of them were fixated on the past, and on living their adventure. One was able to move on, the other wasn't.
- Evil Gloating: During the swordfight, both fighters throw out their back. Muntz is the first to recover, but instead of attacking Carl, he knocks him over asks if he has any last words.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Alpha is a Double Subversion, as his collar gives him a squeaky voice, but only when it's not working right. However, when his voice becomes deep, it becomes really deep.
- Experienced Protagonist: Carl Fredericksen is a senior citizen whose day job used to be selling balloons at the zoo. Nevertheless, he has the sense to pack for an ostensibly permanent trip to Paradise Falls and keeps Russell as safe as possible. They end up working together to save a giant bird named Kevin, with Carl realizing he can be badass, and Russell taking inspiration after seeing Carl in action. Realizing that he needs Russell in his life as much as the kid needs him, Carl becomes his surrogate grandparent by the end of the movie and awards him Ellie's grape soda badge, knowing that Ellie would have wanted him to pass on the gift.
- Carl was supposedly modeled on Spencer Tracy's appearance in the film Guess Whos Coming to Dinner, right down to the black rectangular glasses.
- Charles Muntz was modeled after Charles Lindbergh, right down to the nose.
- Gamma (the bulldog) sounds an awful lot like Murderface from Dethklok.
- Kevin bears a strong resemblance to the Road Runner.
- She also resembles the giant bird from For the Birds, including the honking noise.
- The Wilderness Explorers are obviously Expys of the Boy Scouts (or, more likely Cubs, given Russell's age).
- Fallen Hero: Charles Muntz can kind of be seen as one of these.
- Family-Friendly Firearms: WW 1 era fighter planes whose guns seem to otherwise act like normal weapons shoot darts. The in-world logic is that the planes were designed for a Non-Lethal KO of Kevin, given that we see them earlier in the traps. Interestingly, in the climax they go to the detail of showing the copper shell ejecting and damage to the house from Muntz's rifle.
- Fiery Redhead: Ellie
- Five-Bad Band:
- Floorboard Failure: See Ambulance Cut.
- Food and Animal Attraction: Kevin the bird appears because Russell has a chocolate bar in his pocket.
- Foreshadowing: If you pay attention during the opening, you can see crafting supplies, including tape and various crayons, on Ellie's bedside table while she is in the hospital. This alludes to her having worked on their adventure book.
- For Science!: "I will take it back... FOR SCIENCE!"
- Funny Background Event: A minor one at the end, when they are eating ice cream. The ladder from the blimp ends at the Disabled Parking lot.
- Gadgeteer Genius
- Carl qualifies, given he outfitted his house with shower curtain sails and a steering system. Carl retrofitted his entire house into an airship in less than one night. He's better than MacGyver!
- This applies to Muntz as well: he used 70-year-old technology to make the dogs' collars that not only allow them to talk but be tracked as well.
- Gender Blender Name: Kevin the (female) bird.
- Genki Girl: Young Ellie
- Genre Busting: It's a comedy/drama/tragedy/action/floating house/talking dogs/extremely difficult to categorize but highly enjoyable movie.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Not in the film, but on the soundtrack. Track 14 is called "Giving Muntz the Bird."
- Go Look At the Distraction
- Carl sending Russell off on the snipe hunt.
- Also Russell yelling "SQUIRREL!" when being chased by the dogs.
- Good Times Montage / Sad Times Montage
- Grumpy Old Man: Carl Fredricksen
- Half-Empty Two-Shot: Many shots of Carl in his house are framed this way to highlight the missing Ellie.
- Happily Married: Carl and Ellie. Naturally, since she dies of old age, It Gets Worse.
- Heel Face Turn: The credits show all of the villain's dogs, including Alpha, assisting the infirm.
- Heroes Love Dogs: Completely subverted. All the Big Bad's Evil Minions are dogs, and Carl doesn't exactly warm up to Dug. And then DOUBLY subverted with Carl and his eventual acceptance as Dug's master.
- Heroes Want Redheads / Redheaded Hero(ine): Ellie, though Carl already had her before his adventure.
- Heroic BSOD: Carl entered one of these after the Big Bad set his house on fire and Ellie's picture broke. It took reading the pages in Ellie's Adventure Book that he never looked at since he believed she never finished it to snap him out of it.
- Hollywood Law: Carl is one of the Legal Victims.
- Honor Before Reason: "Cross my heart."
- I Can See My House From Here: Played with in the daydream sequence where Russell is tied to a Bedsheet Ladder. He looks up towards Carl's house, joyfully exclaiming "Hey, I can see your house from here!"
- I Gave My Word: And Carl would go to Hell and back to keep it.
- Improvised Zipline: Carl does a short zip-line with a garden hose and his own cane.
- Intergenerational Friendship: Carl and Russell eventually forge this.
- Ironic Echo: "Hey, stop jerking around so much." There are also certain scenes during the early Carl/Ellie montage. The hill, and the hospital.
- It's All Junk: What Carl comes to realize about all his possessions and eventually even the house itself compared to his love for his new friends.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Carl came to embody the stereotype of the loner old man after Ellie's death, but still retained the sweet person he always was at heart. It's getting rid of the "Jerk" part of his personality that's part of his Character Development.
- Kick the Dog: Used frequently, and often quite literally. Almost all instances involve Charles Muntz; his targets include, but are not limited to, a few of the talking dogs.
- Law of Conservation of Detail: Subverted. The inside of the labyrinth Kevin lives in that no one can escape ooh scary is never visited. Word of God was that one planned ending was for Muntz to get lost in it. The DVD has it (along with several other endings) as an extra feature.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Briefly, subtly, but harshly implied. Word of God is that it was a not-so-Convenient Miscarriage that left Ellie unable to have children, and what we see is what they were comfortable showing in a kid's movie.
- Leitmotif: Main theme of the movie represents Ellie and Carl. Muntz also has a theme, which practically duels with Ellie's theme by the climax.
- Lego Genetics: Averted... sort of. Alpha, Beta and Gamma are a Doberman, a Rottweiler and a bulldog, respectively. All the other dogs in the pack are blends of these three breeds -- they're about the same size as the Rottweiler, with body postures similar to the its and a bulldog's, have a Doberman's pointy ears and a mottled brown/gray coat color. They look like what you would realistically get if you mixed all three of those breed types together over several generations.
- Like a Son to Me: One Word of God interview says that Russell was designed to be the child Ellie and Carl were unable to have, in both a figurative and literal spirit. Figurative in that if they had had a child, that child would be very much like Russell (especially at the end when he has both a mother and father figure in his life), and that Russell fills the hole Ellie left behind when she died, much like Carl and Ellie's potential child would have. Literal in that if you look close enough, Russell has features VERY similar to that of both Ellie and Carl...
- Little Stowaway: Russell, but only accidentally.
- The Load: Russell is responsible for every bad thing that happens in this movie (aside from the few Muntz does himself). Probably meant to be an inversion of how in many films where a crotchety old man is paired up with a spunky kid, it's the adult who's portrayed as inept and in need of rescue. Plus, Russell has the excuse that he has no real way of getting home under his own power. If Carl doesn't do it, the poor kid is toast.
- Lock and Load Montage: Carl deciding to go after Russell. After tossing all of his possessions out of the house to make it light enough to float with the remaining balloons, he puts on Russell's Wilderness Explorer sash, shoulders his cane, and steers the house himself.
- Lost World: Paradise Falls itself, not to mention the many, many shout-outs to the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle book of the same name.
- Love At First Sight
- Though not necessarily a literal example:
Dug: My name is Dug. I have just met you, and I love you.
- Which is an echo of another instance: Kevin immediately loves Russell (or chocolate: but probably Russell.)
- Carl seems to experience a literal example of this when he first meets Ellie as a kid. His cheeks visibly light up when Ellie takes his hand, too.
- Lying on a Hillside: Carl and Ellie enjoyed picnics on top of a hill.
- Mad Scientist: Charles Muntz, who made the dogs' collars.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: The shy, quiet Carl and energetic tomboy Ellie in their childhood.
- Match Cut: A balloon popping to a flash popping at Carl and Ellie's wedding.
- Meaningful Echo
- "Cross your heart."
- Russell's comment about the boring times being the ones he remembers the most. When Carl finally turns the page of Ellie's adventure book, he notices that there are pictures of their everyday life. While some of the things might not be considered boring under normal circumstances, recall that Ellie and Carl wanted to live by Paradise Falls and have really exciting adventures.
- Meaningful Name: The movie title itself. It's literally what the plot is about, going up in the air in a house raised by balloons, and it's where Ellie wanted her house to be above the falls, but it's also Carl's character arc (coming up out of depression and realizing life is still worth living). Also consider the fact Carl seemed ready to die before Russell appeared, so that his whole trip was "going to join Ellie", and the symbolism of going up into the heavens...
- Merit Badges for Everything: As seen in Russel's band. And the credits shows some specific ones. Including one for Bio-Hazard, and one with the design of a Mushroom.
- Miniature Senior Citizens: Subverted -- Carl was always that short.
- Misplaced Wildlife: Averted.
Carl: If you don't hurry up, the tigers will eat you!
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Dug decides that Carl is his master after being repeatedly mistreated by Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Omega.
- Moment of Weakness
- When Carl attacks the construction worker who accidentally damages the mailbox.
- Also later when he Abandons Kevin and Russell to try and save the house.
- Mood Whiplash
- The scene of Carl and Ellie after her miscarriage in the middle of their Happily Married montage.
- Arguably, the entire film is a master course in this trope. The first ten minutes are just particularly hard for it.
- Morning Routine: We see one for Carl after Ellie's death. It's... less than exciting.
- Moving Buildings: Carl Fredricksen's house, when tied to a bunch of helium balloons.
- Multiple Demographic Appeal: It's a Pixar animation, so it's given.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Carl going slowly down the staircase in his machine. While "la Habanera" plays in the background.
- Never Recycle a Building: Carl and Ellie's house appears to have been abandoned for quite some time when Carl and Ellie first meet inside as children, and it remains abandoned until they buy and refurbish it after their marriage.
- Never Trust a Trailer: As is tradition for Pixar's films, the initial teaser trailers contained original material created solely for the trailers that were never intended to appear in the film. Still, the jovial Carl in the earliest trailer contrasts quite sharply with the Grumpy Old Man of the film.
- Nobody Poops
Russel: Mr. Fredricksen? Am I supposed to dig the hole before or after? [...] Oh... It's before!
- Also in the scene with the nurses.
- Not the Fall That Kills You: A few near misses here and there. Save for Muntz.
- Obsolete Mentor: Muntz was a world-famous explorer and young Carl's hero, yet has isolated himself for so long that his view of the world is antiquated. In particular, his insistence on capturing Kevin alive is a sign of this: had he not cut off contact with the scientific community, he'd know that bringing a molted feather (with never-before-seen DNA) would suffice to confirm his discovery. Conversely, killing what's clearly an endangered species (not to mention plenty of people) just for the bragging rights would only get him vilified.
- Odd Name Out: Dug is the only dog whose name is not a Greek letter. The other names are implied to be ranks, but it still highlights Dug's position as their Butt Monkey.
- Oh Crap: When Carl sees the skeleton and realizes Muntz is completely off his gourd. His face just gets more shocked when Muntz starts nonchalantly knocking flight caps of the people he killed to the floor... with him eventually saying:
Muntz: A man taking his house to Paradise Falls... That's the best one yet. I can't wait to see how it ends....
- Older Than They Look: Carl is old -- but Muntz was a grown man and veteran explorer when Carl was a little boy, and he makes references to going on safari with Theodore Roosevelt. The film doesn't explicitly say, but Muntz must be well over a hundred.
- Overly Long Gag
- Carl descending the staircase on his Stair Lift.
- Russell getting dragged against the outside of Muntz's airship windshield.
- Percussive Maintenance: When the Stair Lift gets stuck halfway down, one good fistbump and it's going again.
- Photo Montage: The end credits with My New Adventure Book.
- Plucky Comic Relief
- Dug the dog is hilarious, and plucky doesn't even begin to describe him.
- Not to mention the overly-enthusiastic Russell.
- Plot-Triggering Death: Ellie's.
- Production Foreshadowing: Dug's silhouette in Ratatouille. Up itself has an appearance from Lotso Huggin' Bear of Toy Story 3.
- Product Placement: Parodied. An ad for Aflac explains that Carl got the money to fit his house with balloons from his insurance. The canon status is uncertain.
- Punch Clock Villain: Muntz's dogs. As the end shows (and the end credits), once they get a new master, they're perfectly nice.
"I like you temporarily."
- Radio Voice: Hilariously done with all the dogs, particularly Alpha, whose broken collar makes him sound like Darth Vader on helium.
- Reality Ensues
- It's hinted that Russell's Disappeared Dad will finally show up at the ceremony if Russell gets his final Wilderness Explorer badge, but when Russell is at the ceremony in the second-to-last scene, right when we're all set to see a heartwarming redemption/family bonding scene... his dad still never shows. Carl comes up to do it instead.
- One of the hardest hits is in the first 10 minutes when Carl and Ellie learn of her miscarriage.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: Don't think the sleazy developer could manipulate the legal system to get Carl's house? Sadly, you'd be wrong. And thanks to eminent domain, he wouldn't have had to wait for Carl to lose his temper.
- Refuge in Audacity: Let's face it, a house being carried through the sky by a cluster of helium balloons is probably the most tame fantasy element of this story.
- Room Full of Crazy: More like part of the room, but the wall where Muntz has his elaborate map to capture Kevin and all the caps and goggles of the people he killed definitely counts.
- Rule of Funny: Carl and Muntz's ages are rarely taken into account except when it would somehow be humorous.
- Rule of Symbolism: The main reason that the balloon-carried house works so well is because it is tied in to some very effective and heart-wrenching thematic elements of the movie.
- Running Gag
- The dogs being distracted whenever they -- SQUIRREL!!
- Carl's hearing aid too.
- And Russell's snipe hunt.
- Leaf blower to the face!
- "Who wants the ball?"
- Sadistic Choice: Muntz gives Carl one after trapping Kevin and setting his home on fire: save the bird or the house. No prizes for guessing which one he chooses.
- Samus Is a Girl: "Kevin" is a girl. Whoa, didn't see that one coming.
- Scare Chord: Can be heard during the latter half of the scene where we discover Muntz's true colours.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Carl and Ellie.
- Scout Out: The Wilderness Explorers are an example of this, complete with Merit Badges for Everything.
- She's All Grown Up: Gawky, gap-toothed Ellie grows up to be beautiful.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Charles' life pretty much becomes this. He starts off as a brilliant inventor and famous explorer, goes to this paradise and brings back a skeleton of an exotic creature, only to be called a fraud, be stripped of his title, and when he goes to clear his name, he get stuck there for decades, loses a lot of his dogs, goes completely nuts, and when he finally has a chance to bring back proof he ends up getting killed. And even if he did succeed, everyone he was trying to prove himself to would be long dead.
- Show Within a Show: The Charles Muntz newsreels, which included their own tropes:
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Muntz was kind of an amalgam of Lindbergh and Howard Hughes. The Art of Up book also mentions Walt Disney as partial inspiration for Muntz's appearance.
- Clear My Name: Muntz's reason for returning to Paradise Falls.
- Insignia Rip Off Ritual: This happens to Muntz near the beginning.
- The blatant Star Wars references:
- The dart-shooting biplanes are manned by dogs that check in as members of "Grey" Squadron, à la the Rebel attack on the Death Star. Also notice the dogs have flight names like "Red X". One of the few ones not used is Red 5, Luke's flight name.
- One of the pictures in My New Adventure Book shows Carl and Russell going to a movie theater to see Star Wars.
- The idea of a "plateau lost in time" somewhere in South America is clearly modeled after the legendary lost plateau from The Lost World, made particularly glaring with all the references to it describing it as a land lost to time. On top of all that, Muntz's presentation of the giant bird skeleton is similar to the scene from the book, in which Dr. Challenger presents a live pteranodon as proof of his journey (a Bronto/Apatosaurus in the original stop-motion film).
- Pete Docter has made no mistake that Chuck Jones is one of his heroes. Check out the shapes of the rocks during the chase sequence, the personalities of the dogs, and the fact that Kevin looks somewhat familiar...
- The infomercial that Carl watches in his house is a shout out to a viral internet video from failblog.com that can be found here.
- There's a scene where the dogs are all playing poker, in a shout out to the famous piece of pop art.
- In real life, Charles Muntz was one of the pioneers of television, known as "Mad Man" Muntz. His business model was to control every aspect of television, from programming (the DuMont Network) to the actual sets. Although he was not able to compete for long against the established radio crossover networks of CBS and NBC, many of his innovations are still in use today.
- In The Art of Up, there's a detailing of all the badges on Russel's sash. There are several badges, some that look to be modeled from actual merit badges; but one that caught his eye depicted a hand karate-chopping a watermelon in half. Wilderness Explorers are learning Self-Defense Against Fresh Fruit.
- In the sequence where the house has just taken flight, it floats past the apartment of a little black girl; she has a not-so-Hidden Mickey in the form of her Minnie Mouse style hairdo (also known as afro puffs). Also, the ball she's playing with is the one from Luxo Jr and hidden in the lower left corner is a Lotso Huggin' bear.
- The Pizza Planet truck makes a cameo in the next scene.
- A Monty Python-esque frog wakes Carl up and gets smacked for its trouble.
- One of the badges seen during the credits is the Mac beach ball "loading" cursor.
- The blatant Star Wars references:
- Shown Their Work: The art direction team traveled to the plateaus of Venezuela to get the look and feel of Paradise Falls down. Yes, those landscapes really are as surreal in real life. In fact, the real-life ones are more surreal than the ones in the film. Pete Docter said in the "making of" documentary that if they had fully depicted in the movie what the tepuis actually look like, nobody would believe them.
- Most of the skeletons in Muntz's zeppelin seem to be based on RL megafauna, as some are identical to extinct giant sloth skeletons and another resembles an arsinoithere.
- Kevin may be one of the most realistic animated birds ever depicted. Her quirks, mannerisms and body language are a composite of several real birds. Parrots are the primary inspiration, but there's some cassowary and hawk in Kevin as well. Her bright colors are based on the (male) Himalayan Pheasant.
- Silence Is Golden: A remarkable dialogue-free montage tells the whole story of Carl and Ellie's life without a single word.
- Sky Pirates: Parodied liberally.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: This film dings on both sides of the scale -- it's a sad fact that life isn't fair and each character has experienced cruel disappointments in life ... but in the end, as long as you don't let those disappointments rule your life, you can still be happy.
- Snipe Hunt: Literally. The "snipe" turns out to be real, too.
- Soft Water: A bunch of the Dogs fall into a gorge, but apparently all survive because they all managed to fall in the river.
- Somewhere an Ornithologist Is Crying: Averted in that Kevin displays very bird-like mannerisms and motion. Even her cartoon-ostrich-like habit of swallowing odd objects is justified: she's foraging for food to take back to her babies, and isn't sure if these new objects (Carl's cane, the balloons) are edible or not.
- Staggered Zoom: This is how we find out that Carl's house has been surrounded by a massive construction project.
- Staring Kid: There's one at the window when Carl's house takes off. Russell also occasionally serves this purpose.
- Steampunk/ Dieselpunk: Muntz used what appears to be decades-old technology to make collars that can translate the thoughts of a pack of dogs into words.
- Stealth Pun: Dogs flying World War I style biplanes. Dog fighters.
- Stock Scream: We hear the Wilhelm Scream as one of the dogs goes plummeting off a cliff.
- Talking Animal: Dug the dog, and the rest of Muntz's dogs. Most of the dogs have very human speech patterns, but Dug really does sound like a dog of average intelligence that has suddenly gained the ability to speak English:
Dug: My master made me this collar. He is a good and smart master and he made me this collar so that I may speak-- SQUIRREL!! (beat) My master is good and smart.
- Talking to Himself: Bob Peterson voices both Dug and Alpha.
- Talking to the Dead: "Would you look at that, Ellie?" Played for laughs when Russel hears him doing it and starts talking to Ellie himself.
- Tastes Like Friendship: Kevin loves Chocolate.
- Terrible Trio: The main henchman (or hench-dog) group, comprised of Alpha the Doberman, Beta the Rottweiler, and Gamma the bulldog.
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Young Ellie, who is otherwise very tomboyish, wears a pink bow on top of her head.
- That Cloud Looks Like...: Newly-wedded Carl and Ellie do this twice during the opening montage.
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: Dug, on account of his collar, which translates his thoughts à la stream of consciousness.
- They Called Me Mad: Muntz once his Berserk Button, capturing Kevin, gets pushed.
- Time Passes Montage: In the first ten minutes, as we see Carl and Ellie's lives together, marked by Ellie lovingly putting on Carl's neckties.
- Too Dumb to Live: Seriously, how does Russell make it through the film? The kid has the survival instincts of a lemming! Seeing as how it's Pixar, though...
- Took a Level in Badass
- Tragic Keepsake: The bottlecap "badge", Ellie's Adventure Book, her photo, the house itself... and the airport passes Carl was going to surprise her with just before her final hours. Really, a huge part of the plot is based around this trope and Carl's need to let go of them.
- Trailers Always Spoil: Muntz is the villain, and Russell defeats the dogs by pointing out an imaginary squirrel. Thanks, Disney marketing!
- Trophy Room: Muntz has one of these onboard his blimp and is seen bragging to Carl about some of his exploits. It serves as the first site for Carl and Muntz' final battle. Since Muntz is totally nuts, he ends up destroying most of it during the fight.
- Truth in Television
- Dug's behavior (aside from the speaking collar) is pretty realistically canine. And even Dug's speech is what you'd expect from a dog. Roger Ebert remarked that if his own dog was given the power of speech, he'd be saying almost exactly the same thing.
Carl: Oh, you want the ball?
- Also, they really did their homework with Kevin. She's very parrot-like in her mannerisms and mimicking, and the threat display she gives Carl when he tries to take Russell away from her is all bird.
- Stair lifts do move that slowly.
- Unlikely Heroes: Carl Fredricksen and Russell. They're really the last two people you would expect to see trekking through the jungles of Venezuela. With a talking dog and an exotic bird no less.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Not explicitly stated, but Carl's flight to South America has similarities to the true stories of Lawn Chair Larry and of the Balloon Priest. Also, the closing credits include a dedication to "the real-life Carl and Ellie Fredricksens who have inspired this story".
- Viewers Are Geniuses / Did Not Do the Research: Carl and Russell are playing a car spotting game (red one, blue one). Dug looks off camera and says "Grey one" and a red one goes past. The "genius" part is that dogs are red/green colorblind, but the "fail" part is that they're not completely colorblind; Dug wouldn't be able to tell a red car from a green car, but he should be able to distinguish either from a grey car.
- Vocal Dissonance: Alpha because of his broken voice collar. Later repaired, and at the end it breaks again.
- Wasn't That Fun?: After the house goes plummeting off the blimp with Muntz having done the same just moments ago:
Russell: That was COOL!
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Ellie's death is shown quite early in the film.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Russell's motivation to earn his last badge.
- What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: The villain's name is Charles Muntz. Charles Mintz is the guy who basically stole Oswald the Lucky Rabbit from Walt Disney (along with most of his animators).
- What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Dug is noticeably cuter than the other henchdogs. Who are all Dobermans, bulldogs, and pitbulls. Dug, the only dog who is completely good, is a golden retriever mix.
- What the Hell, Hero?: "You gave Kevin away. You just... gave her away." Though to be objective, Carl still needed a sturdy place to live, cherished memories or not. Plus, he was up against a bunch of vicious dogs led by an insane supercentenarian while there was a wild fire burning down his house, there wasn't much he could do in that sort of situation.
- When Elders Attack: Carl attacks a worker manhandling his mailbox with his cane at the start of the movie. His overreaction serves as a harbinger for the plot to begin.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Russell, to the point that he spills Kevin's existence in Muntz's airship.
- Willing Suspension of Disbelief: The entire movie runs on this. Especially (but not limited to) the way the house moves around. Though a house could potentially fly, at least according to this article of Wired Magazine, the team acknowledged they'd used far less balloons that would be necessary for the sake of a visual effect. and the fact that they got from the USA (Muntz asks how "things are back in the 'States"), to South America in such short order and steered by Russell. Just how long was Carl knocked out?
- Wimp Fight: Muntz vs. Carl in a swordfight.
- Window Pain: Lots and lots of it.
- With or Without You: Not the phrase, but the spirit is there.
Carl: Now whether you assist me or not, I am going to Paradise Falls, if it kills me!
- With This Ring: Carl's wedding ring is animated properly on his hand the entire movie.
- You Kill It, You Bought It
- You Leave Him Alone: Invoked by Russell to save Mr. Frederickson from the biplane-flying dogs.
- You Shall Not Pass: Parodied when Dug tries to get the other dogs to stop, but they just run past him, except Alpha, who grabs Dug by the neck and tries to throw him off the cliff.
Dug: Stop, you dogs.
- Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: Kevin the "snipe" is really a mama. But her name remains Kevin even after the discovery.