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As a boy, Carl Fredricksen idolized the South American explorer, Charles Muntz. He soon meets Ellie, who shares his passion for exploration. Her dream is to one day go to Paradise Falls, and build a house there. Their relation deepens over time, and once all grown up, they get married. As a young couple, instead of traveling the world and exploring, they settle for working in the South American section of a zoo as photographer and balloon salesman so they can save some money first. Life gets in the way, as it often does, and they eventually grow old, having never gotten to Paradise Falls. Just as Carl decides to surprise Ellie with plane tickets, he loses her. Falling into a deep depression at losing the love of his life, he finds that their happy home is threatened by a rich man who wants to tear it down for his building project. He tricks Carl out of his home with a bogus lawsuit. Refusing to surrender, Carl attaches all the balloons he can find to his house, launching it into the sky towards South American. What he isn’t aware of, is the fact that a neighborhood boy, Russell, on a scouting project is accidentally taken along for the ride. On their journey they discover a rare bird that Russell names Kevin (he later discovers that Kevin is, in fact, a girl); and a dog, Dug, with a unique collar allowing him to talk. Dug’s collar was created by the man that Carl looked up to in his childhood, Charles Muntz. However, they soon realize that he is not the nobleman of Carl’s memory, but a poacher set on capturing Kevin, dead or alive, and that they must protect the bird so that she can get back to her nest and her babies.
Adjusting to life after a loved one has passed on can be quite difficult. Mr. Fredrickson does not seem to be adjusting very well when he first meets up with Russell. The old man isn’t accustomed to the young boy’s vibrant energy, and he initially looks upon him with irritation. His own desires are sacrificed when he steps out of his comfort zone to help Russell to protect a rare bird from poaching. He comes to feel that his own goals were petty compared to the needs of those around him that he cared about, and that helping them gave him far more satisfaction than his childhood dream.
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Carl Fredrickson: Hey, let’s play a game. It’s called “See Who Can Be Quiet the Longest”.
Russell: Cool! My mom loves that game!
Russell: [Carl and Russell find Dug in a South American desert; Russel pets him] Hey, I like dogs!
Carl Fredricksen: [calling out] We have your dog!
Russell: [Dug walks around Russell] Whoa.
Carl Fredricksen: I wonder who he belongs to?
Russell: Sit, boy.
Russell: Hey look, he’s trained! Shake.
[Dug shakes his paw]
Russell: Uh-huh. Speak.
Dug: Hi there.
Carl Fredricksen: [He and Russell make surprised exclamations] Did that dog just say “Hi there”?
Dug: Oh, yes.
Carl Fredricksen: Whaa!
Dug: My name is Dug. I have just met you, and I love you.
[he jumps up on Carl]
Carl Fredricksen: Wha…
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!
[looks to distance for a few seconds]
Dug: My master is good and smart.
Carl Fredricksen: It’s not possible!
Dug: Oh, it is because my master is smart!
Russell: Cool! What do these do, boy?
Russell: [Russell starts to fiddle with a dial on Dug’s collar, causing him to cycle through languages and different voices] Hey would you – cuerdo con tigo – I use that collar – watashi wa hanashi ma – to talk with. I would be happy if you stop.
Carl Fredricksen: Russell, don’t touch that. It could be… radioactive or something.
Dug: I am a great tracker. My pack sent me on a special mission, all by myself. Have you seen a bird? I am going to find one, and I am on the scent. I am a great tracker; did I mention that?
[Dug is suddenly attacked by Kevin, who shrieks in Dug’s face after pinning him to the ground]
Dug: Hey, that is the bird! I have never seen one up close, but this is the bird. May I take your bird back to camp as my prisoner?
Carl Fredricksen: Yes, yes, take it! And on the way, learn how to bark like a real dog!
Dug: Oh, I can bark.
Dug: And this is howling.
Russell: [Kevin screeches] Can we keep him? Please, please, please?
Carl Fredricksen: No.
Russell: But it’s a TALKING DOG!
Carl Fredricksen: It’s just a weird trick or something. Let’s get to the falls.
Russell: That might sound boring, but I think the boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most.
Alpha: Not you, you lost the Bird. Now, you must wear the cone of shame.
Dug: [wearing a cone around his head in the next scene, and hangs his head] I do not like the cone of shame.
Carl Fredrickson: Russell?
[Opens the door, only to find Dug on his doorstep]
Carl Fredrickson:[Overjoyed, having had a Change of Heart] Dug!
Dug: I was hiding under your porch because I love you. Can I come in?
Carl Fredrickson: Can you come in? Why, you’re my Dog. And I’m your Master.
Russell: But I want to help!
Carl Fredrickson: I don’t want your help, I want you safe.