(Pete Docter/Bob Peterson, 2009)
Like "Where the Wild Things Are" (and "The Wizard of Oz", lest we forget), this starts as a wondrous fantasy/adventure and ends by damning the imaginative act in favour of the real world. Here, though, they're also scoring real and honest points against the superman impulse and obsessive compulsion. Ed Asner's widowed old man quests for Paradise Falls, and he's matched by his badge-mad boy scout sidekick and an explorer "hero" on a blind quest for his own trophies. They also meet several funny animals who prefer their love and gratification in the present tense. The first act is remarkably concise and controlled as it recaps the old guy's marriage from youth to death, and the pervasive melancholy is artful and earned. I could really live without the barrage of "Star Wars" in-jokes in the climax, and the denouement papers over some serious issues. But the journey of the house is exciting, I love the voice trick on the nasty dog, and overall this is my favourite overhyped kids' movie of the current cycle.