Pixar-Forgotten/Minor Characters #10: Russell’s Mom


Today we look at a forgotten/minor character from Pixar’s 10th film and the 2nd animated film ever nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, Up.

As you all know, I’m not a big fan of this film.


Granted, I appreciate it a lot more now than I did in the past, but it’s still not a film that I would rush to go see again.


For those of you who don’t know, Up tells the story of an old man, Carl Fredricksen, voiced by Ed Asner, who has become somewhat embittered after the death of his lifelong wife, Ellie.

I'm just trying to imagine Spencer Tracy on one of those chair things!
I’m just trying to imagine Spencer Tracy on one of those chair things!

After an accident occurs which causes him to have to move out of his lifelong home, he decides to fulfill one of his late wife’s last wishes. Which wish is that? The wish of moving their house to the cliffs of Paradise Falls (a fictional falls in South America). How does Mr. Fredricksen accomplish this task? Well, he blows up literally hundreds of balloons and uses them to float him and his house to South America.

Somewhere there's a CEO of a helium company who's just made a million dollars!
Somewhere there’s a CEO of a helium company who’s just made a million dollars!

Everything seems to go fine, until Mr. Fredricksen realizes that he has a young stowaway aboard the flying house. A Boy Scout-like Wilderness Explorer boy named Russell, voiced by Jordan Nagai, accidentally got swooped up in the ascent. Mr. Fredricksen isn’t too happy about this and attempts to land the house so that Russell can go back home, but external forces prevent this from happening and Russell just has to go along for the journey.

"I could have been all the way to South America right now without any worries if it wasn't for you meddling kid and your many dog...oh wait, you don't have a dog yet."
“My plan to get to South America was perfect! And I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for you meddling kid and your many dog…oh wait, you don’t have a dog yet.”

This brings me to my forgotten/minor character: Russell’s mother. You see, it’s evident that Russell, while on his South American excursion, has been away for a long time! Why is this evident? Well, it appears that Mr. Fredricksen and Russell are from the US and it’ll take quite a long time to travel via floating house to reach South America. Unless this is one of the many plot holes that this movie has along with why Mr. Fredricksen and explorer, Charles Muntz, voiced by Christopher Plummer, seem to be the same age?

Credit goes to whoever made this!
Credit goes to whoever made this!

The point of the matter is that I’m sure Russell’s mother must be panicking and getting the entire police force to find him! His picture must be in every news paper and on every news channel! When Russell returns back home with Mr. Fredricksen, I’m sure that Mr. Fredricksen would have been arrested or at least brought in for questioning!

"Give him the death penalty! THE DEATH PENALTY!"
“Skip the questioning. Give him the death penalty! THE DEATH PENALTY!”

Another alternative is that maybe Russell’s mom is a bad mom who just doesn’t notice that Russell has been missing for days weeks a long time, or even worse, doesn’t care.

"Hmm...Russell hasn't been home since last week. Maybe he's at his dad's. I should double check...nah!"
“Hmm…Russell hasn’t been home since last week. Maybe he’s at his dad’s. I should double check…nah!”

Anyway, this mysterious figure of Russell’s mom is someone worth pointing out, hence I choose her as the forgotten/minor character of this film!

"You do realize that I may not even be Russell's mother?" "Yeah, but I feel it's evident that you are."
“You do realize that I may not even be Russell’s mother?”
“Yeah, but I feel it’s evident that you are.”

26 thoughts on “Pixar-Forgotten/Minor Characters #10: Russell’s Mom”

  1. I still don’t know how you can dislike Up. I will never understand. To me everything from the humor, to the dogs, to the villain, to the music is perfect. I love the introduction of the relationship between Carl and Ellie. A whole life as almost an animated short is probably my favorite opening scene in any film ever. But even more than that I love how Ellie remains a presence throughout the film. It reminds me each time I see it how those I love who have passed on are still an active presence in my life even after they are gone. When Carl see’s the note from Ellie at the end it is one of the most profound experiences in film I’ve ever had.

    The age of the villain doesn’t bother me at all because the point of his character is that so often when we meet our childhood heroes they are not the men or women we hope them to be. That makes them turn from a hero to a villain. That to me is interesting and not just a generic bad guy.

    The relationship between Russell and Carl grows authentically like I think a boy and a grumpy old man would actually develop if forced to be together.

    You do have to accept some fantasy elements like the balloons but that’s the case in any movie, even a documentary is still crafted with a style and elements you have to accept as part of a movie.

    Anyway, it’s my favorite movie and that’s kind of why. 🙂

  2. Well, she made a very good formal appeal there, Mark. Would you retaliate with your thoughts on The Dark Knight, or perhaps The Hunchback of Notre Dame? I’ll let you decide.

    1. Ha yeah we all have those movies we are different on than everyone else. Both of those movies I totally see why they are great movies. Just too dark for my taste but I dont hate them or think they are badly made. Just not for me.

  3. Russell’s mom is a good choice. I might also have gone with the female police officer who takes Carl home, since aside from Ellie, she is the only female character with dialogue. (And those three are the only female characters, aside from the bird with a male name.)

    I wasn’t expecting her reaction to Russell being gone to be shown, though, because the way Boo’s parents in Monsters, Inc. reacted to her disappearance was never shown either.

      1. She evidently has compassion, considering the way she tries vaguely to comfort Carl, “You don’t seem like a public menace to me”. I find this something commendable in modern police officers (who seem to think treating everyone up for a misdemeanor like the lowest filth imaginable is a requirement of the job).

  4. I don’t think Charles Muntz and Carl are ever implied to be the same age, though. In the present they both are just generally drawn as very old men. Carl is confirmed as 78 by the filmmakers.

    Muntz would probably be about 24-25 when he left for Paradise Falls 70 years earlier. So he would be 94-95 in the present. I have pictures of my great-grandfather when he was 90 and you could easily mistake him for a man in his 60s.

    The greater question would be how Muntz can be so active at that age. Originally he was going to eat Kevin’s eggs to keep him young and alive forever, but this was cut for being “too bizarre” (which really says something in a movie with dogs flying helicopters).

      1. Obviously the marriage sequence is amazing, but the rest is just kind of…eh? Wasn’t what I expected after those first ten minutes. But everyone has it on their top animated lists so maybe we’re missing something?

        Aww, we miss you too! Even if it’s been only two days, haha. Told you I’d be snooping here 😉

      2. I dunno if you checked it or not, but I made a Top 13 Animated Films I Dislike, But Everyone Else Likes list on my blog and you can see Up on it. (You can find the list on my blog in the Top 13 section).

        And thanks for snooping, lol. It’s nice to know that at least one person misses me!

      3. I checked it out now, I feel like slapping you just a little for Lilo&Stitch and Wall-e. 😉 And I disagree with you on Spirit, Ice Age 1 and Antz. Otherwise nice list, I like how you go all out on them.

        No problem. I’m sure I’m not the only one : )

      4. Lol, I wrote that list in like 2013 or so, so a lot has changed since. I’ve gained more respect and appreciation for Lilo & Stitch, Wall-E, and Up, so I’m not sure what my list would like if I did it today.

  5. Up is one of my favorite movies of all time. Maybe it’s an age thing and the fact it reminds me of when my dad died and left my mom alone and the fact I love golden retrievers. Plus I am a softie and I tear up when I watch this movie. Thanks for bringing up Russell’s mom; this movie gets ignored. Hopefully you may come to like the movie more later.

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