Pixar already had a reputation for being good at getting viewers to cry, but even then, Up is considered one of its most tear-jerking movies yet.
- The intro. The lives of two people very much in love, from their youth til they are parted by death — complete with the shared dream they were never able to complete. The creators were worried that the old man's reasons for going on his fantastic voyage would appear to be suicidal — "he just wants to join his wife".
- For more specifics, the moment when Ellie goes into hospital and pushes the Adventure Book into Carl's hands. The sheer disbelief and grief in the look he gives her, since she's just told him, still without dialogue, that she isn't going to make it... And it crosses with Heartwarming, but it's also obvious that these two have spent their entire lives together, with her even joining him at work at the zoo. To say Carl will feel like a spare part without Ellie is an understatement.
- Right before Carl visits Ellie in the hospital, she's completely still with her eyes closed and a serious, despondent expression, the vibrant energy and happiness that Carl loved so much drained out from her, and just accepting that she will die and is waiting for it to come.
- Note that Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle, who thought WALLE could stand to be half an hour shorter, was pretty much blown away by that intro.
- Many of the key Tearjerker moments can easily be attributed to Michael Giacchino's wonderful score during those dialogue-less moments. (It won that year's Oscar for Best Score.) Hell, just listening to certain tracks ("Married Life", "The Ellie Badge" and "Things We Did" for those following along at home) makes those tears well up all over again.
- What makes it especially poignant is that the entire intro is realistic and everything happening before the balloons come out of the roof could happen and might be occurring at any time.
- It could even happen to you.
- Another depressing part is when after several decades, Carl was finally able to afford plane tickets to Venezuela and was planning on surprising her with them at their upcoming picnic at the same spot under the tree on top of the hill. It was at this moment that Ellie fell ill from old age. Carl bought those tickets in vain and was barely too late to fulfill their dream.
- The brief but heartrending scene during the opening montage after Carl and Ellie were planning a family- the closest any Disney film has ever gotten to openly portraying a miscarriage (or portraying how heartbreaking it can be when a woman learns that she's unable to have children).
- The way the music slows down to underscore that moment.
- Carl and Ellie's entire relationship to people who have parents/grandparents with a similar relationship, where the two partners truly complete each other. And then when one of them dies, the grief-stricken and lonely widow/widower becomes emotionally hollow and incomplete like Carl was, not knowing what to do with themselves now that their other half is gone...
- The first ten minutes, as well as anytime the plot turns to Carl and Ellie.
- Every time Ellie's folder comes out, Carl (and the viewer) is choked up by seeing "Stuff I'm Going To Do."
- The image of Carl sitting at the funeral (pictured above), just holding a balloon and looking like he has no clue what to do.
- Notice the church that Carl's sitting in? It's the same church that he and Ellie got married in.
- Not helping matters is that from the looks of things, he's the only one there...or he stayed long after everyone else left.
- More likely, given how dark it was inside, and the amount of flowers and balloons, he likely was just the last one there.
- This scene really shows just how far CGI has come since it first hit the scene nearly two decades earlier. Look at the image of Carl at her funeral - you can see the anguish lining his face.
- Speaking of promises:
Russell: Cross your heart?
Carl: *pauses* ... Cross my heart.
- Right after Carl hits Steve over the head to make the worker let go of his mailbox, he looks outside and sees the Corrupt Corporate Executive standing there and putting his hand over the mailbox like saying "mine". Carl's "My God, What Have I Done?" reaction is quite understandable, considering that he was immediately sued for assault, lost the case, and said executive used the opportunity to order him to be sent to the asylum.
- In the middle of the film, it looks like everything's gonna go along well... Muntz appears. He captures Kevin, who calls desperately to her babies after being injured, and making it just a few steps towards them before collapsing. He then throws down his lantern to burn down Carl's house. Now tell me... how would you feel if someone tries to burn down the house you and your deceased wife have lived in for practically your whole life? "I DIDN'T ASK FOR ANY OF THIS!", indeed.
- The way Russell says "You gave away Kevin... you just... gave her away"... it's very reminiscent of a little boy saying to their parent that they tore him and his friend apart.
- When Dug gets called "bad dog" by Carl, someone he loves so much, in an almost-literal Kick the Dog moment, his heart is visibly broken. On top of that, Ed Asner's powerful yet heartwrenching delivery of the line really sells how upset Carl is about the situation.
- The scene right afterwards where Carl sits down all alone in the house, next to Ellie's chair. He really does look like he's just waiting to die, and would likely have done so had he not found Ellie's message in the adventure book by chance.
- Russell angrily throwing his sash down since he wants to help Kevin when Carl cares more about his house.
- The implied story of Russell's parents, after he says that "Phyllis" told him that he was bugging his father by calling him so much...
Carl: Phyllis? You call your own mother by her first name?
Russell: Phyllis isn't my mom.
Carl: (the realization hits him) ... Oh.
- This could be interpreted as two things: Russel's parents are simply divorced and Russel can only reach the secretary, or he's in the sole care of his stepmother, Phyllis.
- It's actually worse if you consider the fact that Russel only ever mentions things he and his father used to do together or whatever empty promises he's recently made. This combined with how uncomfortable Russel is even mentioning his stepmother seems to indicate that Phyllis doesn't like Russel, and that, either at her behest or not, Russel's father has abandoned him emotionally in favor of his new family. And Russel, at least until the end of the movie, still believed that his dad would show him how to set up a tent and come to his badge ceremony.
- Somewhere halfway between Heartwarming Moment and Epic Tearjerker. The scene at the end, where it shows the house on the cliff... It's mighty powerful.
- The house seemed so insignificant when he first gets it there, but when it lands there by chance, it was as big as it was in the picture that Ellie had made as a child. This might even be a metaphor for Carl's heart, as it seemed to grow since the first time the house landed.
- When Carl empties the house to lighten it so he can chase after Russell and help him save Kevin, most of the stuff is tossed into a pile, but Carl arranges his and Ellie's chairs next to each other as they had been in the house.
- Another one that can be interpreted as heartwarming and sad at the same time: "Russell, for assisting the elderly, and for performing above and beyond the call of duty, I would like to award you the highest honor I can bestow: The Ellie Badge." After watching the movie, we all know how much this means for both Russell and Carl.
- Speaking of Russell, his story of his father and him would sit at the corner and count cars while eating ice cream ending it with "I know that sounds dull, but the dull moments are the ones I miss the most."
- Ellie's final message to her husband: "Thanks for the adventure! Now go have a new one."
- Not to mention the way that Ellie's Leitmotif comes back as he reads the book. Subtle, but gut-wrenching.
- Dug being thrown from the cliff by Alpha and whimpering in pain.
- Kevin calling desperately to her babies after being injured, and making it just a few steps towards them before collapsing.
- In the intro we see Carl and Ellie installing and painting a mailbox together: when the movie reaches the present day, the mailbox is damaged by a careless construction worker and Carl becomes fiercely protective of it. When Steve, one of the other construction workers, apologizes and tries to take the mailbox back to fix it, Carl accidentally strikes out with his walking frame and actually draws blood: Carl's instant reaction of remorse and worsening panic is heartbreaking. And it's followed up by him appearing in court and - thanks to some strings pulled by the people after his property - being declared a "public menace" and ordered by the court to move into assisted living.
- The look on Dug's face when he says "I do not like the cone of shame".
- The Dug hiding under the porch scene was both this and a Heartwarming Moment:
Dug: Can I stay?
Carl: Of course you can, you're my dog, aren't you? And I'm your master!
Dug: You are my master?! Oh boy, oh boy!
- "I was hiding under your porch because I love you!"
- To see Carl, after repetitively telling Dug "I'M NOT YOUR MASTER!" and even insulting him unfairly earlier on, accept and give back the retriever's affection (and giving us the final proof he's finally moving on), is enough to make person weep with happiness.
- Dug's line immediately afterwards is made of this too. He just gets the happiest look he's ever had (which is quite a feat, since "happy" is his default expression) and joyfully cries out "YOU'RE MY MASTER?!" before jumping up and licking Carl's face.
- Listen to Muntz's theme song from the credits, and keep in mind Carl and Ellie's relationship. Then try not to hear it as a love song from Carl to Ellie: "My spirit of adventure is you..." *sniffle* Again, a very good reason the score won the Oscar...
- The fact that Carl kept 'The Ellie Badge' after all those years.
- Muntz falling to his death in the climax. For every foul thing he did throughout the whole film, it still stings a bit to see the brief but haunting look of pure terror on his face after the ropes attaching him to the house snap, and he plummets down and out of sight from several thousand feet up in the air. You can actually see that's he's still reaching for Carl right as he starts falling, albeit now it looks like he's reaching for help... Carl himself gasps a bit when he sees it happen; it's a real Alas, Poor Villain moment for all it's worth.
- The Reveal showing "The Spirit of Adventure" script on the nose of the Zeppelin.
- During the scene where Alpha, Beta, and Gamma catch up to Carl, Dug, and Russell, the guilty look on Dug's face when Beta and Gamma attack and trap Carl and Russell. and then the moment where Carl and Russell realize Dug inadvertently betrayed them and Dug looks even more guilty.
- It's depressing to realize what Muntz threw away. He was still a very young man, at the peak of his prime, famous, idolized and presumably extremely rich. He missed out on what could have been a life of incredible success, comfort and renown if he would have just the bird scandal go. Instead he literally spent the rest of his life alone on a fool's errand, trying to fulfill a quest that nobody remembered or cared about in present day.