Thanks to cell phones and audiences accustomed to seeing movies at home where no one cares if they talk back to the screen, the communal moviegoing experience has been on the downgrade for years. But once in a great while, a film has enough force to counteract the bad habits and totally enrapture an entire auditorium.

Thanks to cell phones and audiences accustomed to seeing movies at home where no one cares if they talk back to the screen, the communal moviegoing experience has been on the downgrade for years. But once in a great while, a film has enough force to counteract the bad habits and totally enrapture an entire auditorium.

In Up, co-directors Pete Doctor and Bob Peterson accomplish this feat in the first 10 minutes.

The latest Pixar film opens with the trajectory of a couple that meets as children. Carl and Ellie's shared adoration of adventurer Charles Muntz seals a connection that becomes lifelong love, complete with marriage, renovation of the dilapidated house where they met, minor everyday setbacks, tragic disappointment and Ellie's death.

At that point, I couldn't help but notice the powerful silence that hung over the sneak-preview audience, save a few audible sobs from women and the sounds of men sternly trying to hold them in.

Granted, it's not the cheeriest intro to a Pixar movie, but it's one of the most touching love stories in years and, like the start of WALL-E, a tour de force of nearly non-verbal storytelling. In short order, with remarkable dexterity, the filmmakers inspire laughter through the first of many sprints across the emotional range, from sadness to pleasure to exhilaration.

The story becomes Carl's when he's 78 (voiced by Ed Asner) and alone in the house that holds all his memories of Ellie. A balloon salesman by trade, Carl responds to demands to sell his property to an encroaching condo complex by uprooting his house with a massive bunch of balloons and steering it toward his and Ellie's dream destination in South America.

Along as an unwelcome passenger is Russell (voiced by Jordan Nagai), a young, overeager scout who's as lonely as Carl.

Their odd adventure brings Carl face to face with his childhood hero Muntz (voiced by Chrisopher Plummer but a dead ringer for Kirk Douglas), who's gone over the edge from years of isolation, as well as Muntz's pack of dogs with English-translating collars.

They provide a great running gag and a fine foil in action scenes, while the goofiest of the hounds (voiced by Peterson) is one way Up directly ingratiates itself to young viewers.

A 3-D version is another, though having seen the film in 2-D, I can't imagine how much the effect could add to something so gorgeous to begin with.

And as its bright balloons and aerial feats of derring-do delight kids of all ages, Up fulfills a mature need for a memorable tale to go with all the cool sights.