Who's In It: the voices of Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, Delroy Lindo
The Basics: A lonely widower who spent his life deferring adventure decides to fulfill a lifelong dream and fly to South America. In his house. Attached to thousands of helium balloons. Stowing away for the ride is a neighborhood boy obsessed with earning his scouting badge for "assisting the elderly." On their journey they meet an injured giant bird, a villain in a zeppelin--which, really, is kind of the best transportation method ever for a villain--and a defecting mutt from the villain's brood of security dogs, all of whom have electronic collars that allow their thoughts to be heard. Now if they could only invent reverse-collars that would make people shut up.
What's The Deal: I don't want to turn anyone off by getting too film critic-y, but this is, along with WALL-E and The Incredibles, one of the most sophisticated Pixar movies ever made. It's definitely the first one to tackle ideas about regret, aging and divorce (the kid comes from a broken home rather than the standard Disney one-poignantly-dead-parent family) and does so in a way that never goes over the head of the kids in the audience. In fact, when those kids grow up they'll be able to see it in a whole new way. It's smart, funny, moving and almost always avoids the typical. Go see it.
Another Reason To Love It: Whatever you thought about Monsters vs. Aliens (I have lately been made to feel alone in my enjoyment of that one. Like I care.) or Meet the Robinsons, they mark a rupture in the formerly written-in-stone idea that every animated feature should be about adorable throngs of talking animals who can be made into toys. If you wanted something different a few years ago you had to watch Miyazaki movies (and you should do that anyway) or The Triplets of Belleville (also awesome). But now, suddenly, American studios are pulling their heads out of the marketing departments butts and going forward with more unconventional stories. I'm grateful for the baby steps.
2-D Or 3-D?: The 3-D here is just part of the fabric and less about the thrill of having stuff thrown at your face. It's nice, and it looks great, but if you happen to only catch it in 2-D then you won't be getting cheated out of anything spectacular or explosiony.
Warning To Heights-Sensitive People: Let's say, hypothetically, that you're a person who reviews movies for a living but who's also terrified of flying and being way up high in the sky. And that every scene where characters seemed to be on the brink of crashing or falling to certain death as they dangle by balloon strings over miles-deep precipices or off the side of a flying house, let's say that those scenes made your heart rate increase and your palms sweat. You'd have a duty to tell others afflicted with a similar phobia about that sort of thing, right? Of course you would. But yeah, hypothetical.