Study Guide

Up Screenwriter


Pete Docter and Bob Peterson

Pixar mainstays Pete Docter and Bob Peterson have had their hands—and sometimes their voices—in every movie Pixar has ever produced, but no Pixar flick has their creative stamp on it like Up does. Docter and Peterson not only wrote the film’s Oscar nominated script, but they also directed it.

Oh yeah, and Dug? That’s Peterson voicing the squirrel-obsessed pup.

For a movie that was written and directed by one of animation’s most dynamic duos, it’s ironic that the idea for Up’s script came from Docter’s Garbo-esque desire to be alone. “Basically, I’m not a guy that loves being around people all day. There’s times where I just need to get away. This film is born of that feeling,” Docter confessed to MTV News. “Sometimes, you just need to get away from everything" (source).

We hear you, Pete.

Docter and Peterson started penning Up in 2004. When Peterson took a break to work on Pixar’s Ratatouille, Docter brought in Tom McCarthy, a screenwriter whose 2003 film The Station Agent the writers had been using as a touchstone. “I needed someone to spark off creatively,” Docter told PopMatters, “and so I asked Tom if he could recommend any writers he knew that might want to work on the film. He said, ‘How about me?’” (source). McCarthy only worked on Up for three months, but he definitely made a mark on the script—namely, Russell. The roly-poly Wilderness Explorer was all his idea.

The final draft of Up’s script is a one-two punch of hilarious hijinks and heartbreaking emotion. For an animated family flick, it’s complex and mature, tackling thoroughly grown-up subjects like aging, loss, and loneliness. “Walt Disney wasn't making films for kids. Neither were the Muppets,” Docter told Cinema Blend’s Katey Rich. “A lot of the great, really cool films, they weren't making them for kids” (source). Up’s secret weapon is its sophistication: its layered, refined script appeals to moms and dads just as much as it does to their rugrats.

It's just that the adults are the ones sobbing in the back row.