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Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb don't just love the Pixar movie "Up"; its messages of love after loss make it an all-time favorite.
"Thematically, it is so profound," said Gifford in a new video for Fandango's "I Love Movies" series. "It's about the most important things in life. And so, it hit all the right buttons. To me, it's a perfect movie."
The two hosts have seen their share of film screenings together. "The one movie that we screened together that I think is a classic, and we knew it instantly, is the movie 'Up,'" Gifford recalled. "From the first frame, with the telling the love story — of Ed Asner's young character [Carl] and his wife [Ellie] — I think, in like three minutes, it was just sheer cinematic genius."
Kotb agreed, and admitted she didn't think an animated film would qualify as one of her favorites. "There was something about ['Up'] that went beyond animation," she added. "You felt it. When you're weeping during a cartoon, you know you've hit the jackpot."
The 2009 film's themes of love and companionship, especially after losing a family member, hit home with the two hosts. "A love story, although each love story is unique to the two people involved in it, the emotions are the same," said Gifford, whose husband, Frank, passed away in August.
Both TODAY hosts have mourned the loss of their fathers. When Kotb recalled how Carl would speak to a photo of Ellie after Ellie's death, the thought of that moment choked up Gifford. "My mom talks to my father's pictures every day," Gifford said. "She's 85 now and she's been a widow for 13 years, and she misses him every day."
But as heartwrenching as "Up" can be, it's also helped Gifford cope. "Movies that inspire hope in your heart — I think they're not only great entertainment, they're medicinal," she said. "They have a healing power."
Kotb and Gifford's colleague Al Roker also discussed his favorite films for "I Love Movies."
In his own segment, Roker praised three of his favorite Sidney Poitier films, including "To Sir, With Love," "In the Heat of the Night" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," all released in 1967, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
"He's an extraordinary actor, and it has been my great honor to have gotten to know him," Roker said. "What's funny is watching other actors come up to him — black and white — [with] this respect that they show him, because they know the honesty with which he's lived his life and plied his craft."
In addition to praising Poitier's performances, Roker cited the films' discussions about race.
"You'd like to think we've come a long way, and yet we're still in a period of great unrest in this country, when it comes to race," he said. "As a young black kid growing up, I remember going with my parents to see these movies. They really, I think, struck a chord, not only with black America but all of America. I think people were ready to look at this [issue] in a more real way."
Roker previously joined Willie Geist in appearing in a Halloween-themed edition of "I Love Movies." Roker, of course, proclaimed, "Everything I learned in life, I learned from 'Ghostbusters,'" while Geist shuddered while mulling "The Silence of the Lambs," for which Anthony Hopkins portrayed serial killer Hannibal Lecter.
"I mean, if he still does the Chianti move, would it still creep you out today?" asked Geist, who duplicated the sucking noise Lecter makes while describing the meal paired with his Chianti. "Ugh! I just creeped myself out."
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