Up – The Hero’s Journey breakdown

Ordinary world

Carl is a young boy with dreams of emulating his hero Charles Muntz

Call to Adventure

Carl meets Ellie and they promise to live a life of adventure

Refusal of the call

Everyday life seemed to get in the way of their plans

Supernatural Aid

Carl is an old man and the hero of the story. He plays a reluctant mentor for Russell and ends up learning something from him.

Crossing the First Threshold

Attaching balloons to his house and taking off for one last adventure

Belly of the whale

A near death experience in the thunderstorm and it carries them away to a far off place near Paradise falls

The Road of the trials

Carl struggles to get his house to Paradise falls as he has to tow it along and endure the constant nattering and clumsy behaviour of Russel the wilderness explorer

Meeting with the Goddess

Russel and Ellie are Carl’s inspiration. Carl and Ellie never had children but they loved each other dearly, when Ellie died, love also died in Carl’s life and it takes Russell to appear in his life to awaken it again.

Woman as Temptress

The distraction from his goal is Kevin the bird. When Carl meets Muntz, he’s excited, however he shifts between trying to get his house to Paradise falls to rescuing Kevin.

Atonement with the Father

Russell tells Carl a story about sitting on the curb counting cars with his father. Russell admits that although this sounds boring, sometimes the boring things in life are the things he remembers and loves the most. Up until this moment, Carl has seen Russel as an annoying kid but now he sees Russell as lonely boy seeking love and attention because he doesn’t get it from his dad.

Death of the mentor

Russel is upset with Carl because he had to save his house from burning down and in doing so, allowed Muntz to capture Kevin. Russel abandons Carl and flies off to rescue Kevin


Carl flicks through Ellie’s book and discovers that far from living an unfulfilled life, their relationship was her life’s greatest adventure and she encourages him to live on and have another.

Ultimate Boon

He throws all the excess weight out of the house and gets it back in the air and goes after Muntz. Now he’s a changed man, he’s excited and filled with passion instead of being a grumpy old man and he’s ready to take on the final challenge ahead.

The Magic flight

Fighting with Charles Muntz as he rescues Russell, Kevin and Dug

Rescue from without

About to be killed by Muntz and Dug the dog knocks the controls and throws the blimp to one side allowing the old man to escape

The crossing of the return Threshold

He returns home with his new friends and allies, Russell, Dug and the rest of the pack

Master of two worlds

His has achieved the dream of the house by the falls but also he’s achieved happiness by living in the now.

Freedom to live

He sits on the sidewalk counting cars with the Russell, something boring but better than an wild adventure because he’s with someone he loves


Up is a perfectly structured, it’s a love story which spans virtually Carl’s entire life.


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