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Section Header
2009 Disney

2009 Cast and Crew Promo

2009 Consideration Promo

2011 Disney

Composed and Produced by:
Michael Giacchino

Co-Orchestrated and Conducted by:
Tim Simonec

Co-Orchestrated by:
Peter Boyer
Jennifer Hammond
Jack Hayes
Larry Kenton

Labels and Dates:
Walt Disney Records
(May 26th, 2009)

(Promotional Albums)

Walt Disney Records/
Intrada Records
(June 28th, 2011)

Also See:
Cars 2
Land of the Lost

Audio Clips:
2009 Disney Album:

3. Married Life (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

13. Escape from Muntz Mountain (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

19. Seizing the Spirit of Adventure (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

20. It's Just a House (0:29):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

The original 2009 Disney album was a digital download release only. The two longer, promotional CDs ("Cast and Crew" and "For Your Consideration") began circulating in the secondary market in late 2009, selling for over $300 in auctions. The 2011 Disney/Intrada CD, identical to the 2009 download album contents, sold for $20 and is limited to 10,000 copies.

  Winner of an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA award, and two Grammy awards (the score overall and the track "Married Life").

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Sales Rank: 28101

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Buy it... if your heart was broken by the tragic whimsy of Michael Giacchino's theme for the primary couple in the context of Up, its combination of vintage jazz and waltz rhythms both affably light-hearted and remarkably intimate at the forefront of the film's mix.

Avoid it... if you expect the compressed, download-only album presentation of this score to do any justice to the dynamic range of the original recording, in which case you'd be better advised to seek the tardy 2011 CD album with identical contents.

Up: (Michael Giacchino) The tenth feature film for Pixar, Up grossed more at the box office than all of their projects except Finding Nemo, with a critical response as positive as audience reactions. The summer 2009 fantasy sparked not only $700 million worldwide, but also a wide range of major awards consideration. Its story of five years in the making avoided the pitfalls one might expect of a film with an elderly main character and soared with a heart big enough to compensate for its outrageous fallacies of logic. A pair of young aspiring adventurers in the 1930's, Carl and Ellie, marries and grows old without realizing their dreams of traveling to paradise (which is, in this case, in Venzuela), leading to the stubborn resentment of the world by Carl in the aftermath of Ellie's death and the encroachment of the big city on his house. Before a retirement home can claim him, he takes one last adventure via tens of thousands of helium balloons, lifting him, his house, and (unwittingly) a boy with his own dreams of adventure into the air. Upon landing close to his intended paradise in South America, Carl happens across his inspiration from the 30's, a real-life adventurer named Charlie Muntz who has hidden his vintage blimp in the area and continues his search for rare species of animals. The absurdity of the plot is its most lovable attraction (unless you're the type to count logical fallacies in your movies, in which case this one will make you weep for a different reason), though there is no doubt that for those expecting pure escapism, Up has more than its fair share of truly depressing scenes. It is a tear-inducing, bittersweet film in every regard, Carl finally realizing the round-about resolution of his dream but perpetually reminded of the absence of his soulmate. Pivotal at the forefront of the mix in several scenes during the film is Michael Giacchino's easy-going and sentimental music. His third score for Pixar, Up also represents one of three nearly concurrent major releases for Giacchino in the summer of 2009, an impressive period of successful activity the likes of which he would not experience again for several years.

While less substantial in many ways than Star Trek and Land of the Lost, Up is the 2009 entry that garnered the most attention for the young composer, surprisingly earning him the complete array of major awards (including a Grammy, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Oscar, as well as the top nod from the dominant film music critics' group, the IFMCA), a feat only accomplished by classics in the ranks of Star Wars: A New Hope and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Despite this success, even compared to The Incredibles and Ratatouille, this score is something of a lightweight for its majority, its source of inspiration a little more nebulous for casual viewers. Regardless of its usually feathery disposition, Giacchino's music occupies an important role in several scenes during which the score is uninhibited by dialogue or effects, maximizing its impact despite maintaining a relatively low volume. A floating sense of whimsy and plucky comedy in form of vintage jazz is the foundation for Giacchino's music, though the score's primary theme is anchored by the wholesome, intimate personality of a waltz that Rachel Portman enthusiasts may recognize in terms of affable character and piano and woodwind swing. The composer referred to Up as something of an opera to him, leading to a few themes identified specifically with characters. The most important of these themes is Ellie's, for not only does her personality drive the relationship in its early scenes, but her loss is so devastating to Carl that he is largely devoid of his own clear musical identity. There is a 20's-style jazz theme that opens and closes the film and could be considered the likable heart of a grumpy old man, though Up, both in plot and music, is guided by Ellie's dreams and representative theme. The transformation of Ellie's theme from "We're in the Club Now" (with its awkward merging of jazz instrumentation and waltz movements) to the lengthy "Married Life" and "Carl Goes Up" is perhaps the overarching highlight, albeit restrained for most of that time. Giacchino eventually runs wild with Ellie's theme in "Up With End Credits," translating the idea from older vintage tones through the decades of pop-culture percussion and swing.

The centerpiece of the score is "Married Life," a heart-breaking four minutes depicting the majority of Carl and Ellie's lives and her death; Giacchino's manipulation of the theme's pacing and instrumentation in this cue so well matches the tone of the scene that it alone likely merited much of the recognition given to the entire score. In "Carl Goes Up," Giacchino completes the translation of the theme into a fully symphonic variation with harps waving and flutes chirping. Later scenes revisit the theme frequently as Carl focuses on his nearing goal of realizing the adventure they never had, "Paradise Found" and "Stuff We Did" solemn reminders of better days. The latter cue is another tear-jerking point at which the score is not layered with any other sounds in the film. The pair of "It's Just a House" and "The Ellie Badge" amplifies the bittersweet application of the theme with contrasting sensibilities, ultimately returning the theme once again to the solo piano from which it originated. The final theme in Up belongs to the adventurer Muntz and his blimp; the film's opening newsreel scene applies this theme with heavy, vintage jazz (in song form) and it disappears until an enthusiastic, light-hearted ensemble performance in "The Nickel Tour." Giacchino then adapts the theme into a dark, minor-key variant in "The Explorer Motel" as Carl and the boy realize that Muntz is an insane killer, and thereafter the menacing version of Muntz's theme and heroic bursts of Ellie's theme do sonic battle (as in "Escape From Muntz Mountain" and "Seizing the Spirit of Adventure"). A few other general motifs meander through the score, though none is of particular note. The wacky dogs of Muntz are afforded a primordial march of low woodwinds and varied drums that seems like a holdover from Land of the Lost. Forcefully enunciated in "Giving Muntz the Bird" and "Seizing the Spirit of Adventure" is a bold ascending and descending brass motif that joins Muntz's theme as a probable representation of the airship. Cues specifically for the boy and an exotic bird at the center of the story are usually treated with loungey variations on Ellie's theme, as in "Kevin Beak'n" (indeed, the composer once again can't contain himself with his cue titles). The muted brass and layered solo woodwinds running throughout these ideas solidify Up as tribute to yesteryear.

In general, the vintage jazz and waltz combination is effective in raising the spirit of adventure specifically from the perspective of an elderly man, but this material could potentially sound geriatric to some listeners seeking only loftier fantasy elements. The straight action cues, such as "52 Chachki Pickup," adhere to typical animated action, even down to prominent xylophone runs. Together, the totality of Up is effectively likeable and addresses well the age of the primary character. It has just enough whimsy and action to hold the faster scenes while Ellie's theme steals the show in its solo piano renditions. The score was never released by Disney on CD at the time of its hype, only available as a download with the source-like newsreel cue and three sound effects tracks tacked onto the end. Unfortunately, with a score as dynamic in instrumental range as Up, hearing it in compressed MP3 form is simply unacceptable. This format may work for headphones, but its presentation of the recording sounds dull and flat on any sizable stereo system. It renders the sound effects especially pointless as well. Disney, which has oscillated on its 2009 decision to never again release its soundtracks on physical media, did Up a significant disservice with the MP3-only release, causing the subsequent CD promo releases of two expanded selections of cues to fetch outrageous prices in auctions and be extensively distributed illegally online. Pressed in a short period at the end of 2009 and start of 2010, the "Cast and Crew" and "For Your Consideration" promotional CDs for Up both clock in at over 70 minutes in length, spread over 50+ tracks, though they do differ in contents and arrangements. The "Cast and Crew" version is generally considered the complete presentation of the score in lossless sound. The "For Your Consideration" album, however, does have longer versions of four or five cues that were condensed together on the other CD. Enthusiasts of the score are unfortunately left with a search for both versions if seeking absolutely every moment of the score, though the "Cast and Crew" CD contains the most raw material. In either case, the presentation is extremely choppy because of its segregation into such a large number of very short cues. The additional music, despite really filling in the sequences before the house ascends into the sky, is not spectacular and certainly won't merit the hundreds of dollars that either CD has demanded on the secondary market.

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Disney's decision to avoid commercial CDs clearly backfired when the score won so many awards, and the studio finally rectified the MP3 situation for most listeners when it decided to allow Intrada Records to distribute a CD version of the previously available MP3 contents in 2011. The physical product was celebrated with great enthusiasm at Intrada, for it represented the first in a line of highly anticipated collaborations between the massive studio and the specialty soundtrack label that promised to deliver several Disney scores highly desired by fans. That said, the album is primarily a Walt Disney Records product, and with Intrada not credited anywhere on the packaging except for the marginalized use of its logo, it seems that the smaller label is only a distributor of what is essentially an in-house Disney endeavor. There was some understandable grumbling about the fact that the Disney/Intrada pairing did not yield a CD release with an expanded presentation of the score, especially considering Intrada's usual tendency to press outstanding expanded presentations of properly aged scores. As the CD is only a mirror of the MP3 contents, it's difficult to imagine that Intrada will hit its ceiling of 10,000 pressed copies of the product very quickly, if at all. Sound quality is the primary benefit of that CD for those not interested in the promos, the soundscape finally realized in its fullest domain on a commercial product. Keep in mind, however, that Giacchino's major recordings of theatrical scores have almost always tended to be overly dry and shallow in the mix, a truly unfortunate and perpetual point of concern for fans of a man with so much inspiration in the fantasy genre. One would hope for at least a minimal amount of tastefully applied, genre-acceptable reverb in these scores, and Up in particular suffered especially in its compressed MP3 presentation because of this additional loss of some of the dynamic range of the recording. The 2011 CD will still sound highly constricted to some listeners; don't expect this score to bounce off the walls with vibrant ambience, because not only is the mixing unsatisfactorily flat as usual, but the score's intimate design exacerbates this situation to an extent. Regardless of the issues with its mixing and release on album, Up is still a fine score. It never deserved all the awards it received (even Schindler's List and Titanic didn't achieve the same number of wins), for it is not substantially competitive with its most robust peers in 2009, but it breaks your heart when it needs to. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for the Film: ****
    Music as Presented on All Albums: ***
    Overall: ****

Bias Check:For Michael Giacchino reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.37 (in 21 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.21 (in 12,955 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.22 Stars
Smart Average: 3.14 Stars*
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   Re: Mike needs to ditch Dan Wallin ASAP.
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   Re: Lousy, depressing, violent music
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   Re: Lousy, depressing, violent music
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 Track Listings (2009/2011 Disney Albums): Total Time: 53:21

• 1. Up With Titles (0:53)
• 2. We're in the Club Now (0:43)
• 3. Married Life (4:10)
• 4. Carl Goes Up (3:33)
• 5. 52 Chachki Pickup (1:14)
• 6. Paradise Found (1:03)
• 7. Walkin' the House (1:03)
• 8. Three Dog Dash (0:51)
• 9. Kevin Beak'n (1:14)
• 10. Canine Conundrum (2:03)
• 11. The Nickel Tour (0:52)
• 12. The Explorer Motel (1:26)
• 13. Escape from Muntz Mountain (2:43)
• 14. Giving Muntz the Bird (1:57)
• 15. Stuff We Did (2:13)
• 16. Memories Can Weigh You Down (1:22)
• 17. The Small Mailman Returns (3:11)
• 18. He's Got the Bird (0:29)
• 19. Seizing the Spirit of Adventure (5:19)
• 20. It's Just a House (1:59)
• 21. The Ellie Badge (1:30)
• 22. Up With End Credits (7:38)
• 23. The Spirit of Adventure - performed by Craig Copeland (2:30)
• 24. Carl's Maiden Voyage* (0:52)
• 25. Muntz's Dark Reverie* (0:52)
• 26. Meet Kevin in the Jungle* (1:32)

* bonus sound effects track

 Track Listings (2009 Cast and Crew Promo): Total Time: 76:50

• 1. Movietown News (2:34)
• 2. Up With Titles (0:53)
• 3. Ellie Mental (0:30)
• 4. We're in the Club Now (0:44)
• 5. The Adventures of a Lifetime (1:34)
• 6. Wedding March (0:14)
• 7. Married Life (4:40)
• 8. Habanera from Carmen (1:29)
• 9. Hustle and Russell (2:13)
• 10. Carl Goes Postal (1:12)
• 11. Resigned and Reminded (1:13)
• 12. 9,999,999 Luftballons (a.k.a. Carl Goes Up) (3:34)
• 13. Cumulonincompoop (1:03)
• 14. 52 Chachki Pickup (1:15)
• 15. Little House on the Prayer-rie (0:17)
• 16. The Housing Decline (1:29)
• 17. Paradise Found (1:03)
• 18. Walkin' the House (1:03)
• 19. Three Dog Dash (0:51)
• 20. Russell Likes a Fine Whine (0:54)
• 21. Snipe Tricks (0:06)
• 22. Giant Snipe (0:22)
• 23. Kevin Beak'n (1:14)
• 24. Approval From Above (0:40)
• 25. Dug the Birdie Hunter (1:18)
• 26. Scent on a Mission (0:44)
• 27. Dogged Determination (0:45)
• 28. Master and Prisoner (Unused) (0:23)
• 29. Ditch and Moan (0:33)
• 30. Cross My Meart (1:08)
• 31. Kevin's a Girl! (0:31)
• 32. Canine Conundrum (2:03)
• 33. The Nickel Tour (1:12)
• 34. Spirit of Adventure Tour (0:52)
• 35. Spirit of Adventure Diner (1:49)
• 36. The Explorer Motel (1:26)
• 37. Escape to Muntz Mountain (2:43)
• 38. Can't We Help Her Get Home? (0:59)
• 39. Giving Muntz the Bird (1:58)
• 40. Welcome to Paradise (0:43)
• 41. Home Sweet Home (0:38)
• 42. Stuff We Did (2:13)
• 43. Russell to the Rescue (0:18)
• 44. Memories Can Weigh You Down (1:22)
• 45. The Small Mailman Returns (3:11)
• 46. He's Got the Bird (0:29)
• 47. Seizing the Spirit of Adventure (5:19)
• 48. It's Just a House (1:59)
• 49. The Ellie Badge (1:30)
• 50. Up with End Credits (7:38)
• 51. The Spirit of Adventure (2:29)

 Track Listings (2009 "Consideration" Promo): Total Time: 71:07

• 1. Movietown Newsreel Source (1:58)
• 2. Up With Titles (0:53)
• 3. Ellie Mental (0:31)
• 4. We're in the Club Now (0:44)
• 5. The Adventures of a Lifetime (1:34)
• 6. Married Life (4:11)
• 7. Hustle and Russell (2:13)
• 8. Carl Goes Postal (1:13)
• 9. Resigned and Reminded (1:14)
• 10. 9,999,999 Luftballons (a.k.a. Carl Goes Up) (3:13)
• 11. Cumulonincompoop (1:03)
• 12. 52 Chachki Pickup (1:15)
• 13. Little House on the Prayer-rie (0:18)
• 14. The Housing Decline (1:29)
• 15. Paradise Found (1:04)
• 16. Walkin' the House (1:04)
• 17. Three Dog Dash (0:52)
• 18. Russell Likes a Fine Whine (0:55)
• 19. Snipe Tracks (0:07)
• 20. Giant Snipe (0:23)
• 21. Kevin Beak'n (1:14)
• 22. Approval From Above (0:41)
• 23. Dug the Birdie Hunter (1:18)
• 24. Scent on a Mission (0:44)
• 25. Dogged Determination (0:45)
• 26. Ditch and Moan (0:34)
• 27. Cross My Heart (1:08)
• 28. Kevin's a Girl! (0:32)
• 29. Canine Conundrum (2:04)
• 30. The Nickel Tour (0:52)
• 31. Spirit of Adventure Source (1:12)
• 32. Dining Room Source (1:50)
• 33. The Explorer Motel (1:26)
• 34. Escape from Muntz Mountain (2:44)
• 35. Can't We Help Her Get Home? (1:00)
• 36. Giving Muntz the Bird (1:58)
• 37. Welcome to Paradise (0:44)
• 38. Home Sweet Home (0:38)
• 39. Stuff We Did (2:13)
• 40. Russell to the Rescue (0:18)
• 41. Memories Can Weigh You Down (1:23)
• 42. The Small Mailman Returns (1:41)
• 43. Going Back for Kevin (1:41)
• 44. He's Got the Bird (0:30)
• 45. Geriatric Dogfight (3:34)
• 46. Seizing the Spirit of Adventure (1:59)
• 47. It's Just a House (1:59)
• 48. The Ellie Badge (1:30)
• 49. Up with End Credits (4:56)
• 50. The Spirit of Adventure (1:44)

 Notes and Quotes:  

There exists no formal packaging for the 2009 release. The 2009 promotional albums contain only simplistic, single sleeve inserts. The 2011 Disney/Intrada album contains retro-styled artwork, a description of each of the characters, notes from the director and composer, and photography from the recording sessions.

  All artwork and sound clips from Up are Copyright © 2009, 2011, Walt Disney Records, (Promotional Albums), Walt Disney Records/Intrada Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 1/25/10 and last updated 8/2/11. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2010-2013, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.