October 1, 2020

‘Onward’ continues Pixar’s apparent quest to make us all cry

Pixar’s enviable track record with original animation is a mixed blessing, creating sky-high expectations for each new movie. “Onward,” an undeniably emotional and imaginative concept, joins that rich tradition, without reaching the upper rungs of the ladder set by its predecessors.

Fundamentally about a pair of brothers dealing with lingering grief over the loss of their dad, the film adds a magical wrinkle to the premise by setting the story in a mythical world filled with elves, centaurs and pixies — one where modern wonders and mechanization evolved very much along the lines of our own.
Still, hints remain of the magic that once ran rampant, we’re told at the outset. And it’s a belief in those fantastic possibilities that lead an elf Ian, just turned 16, and his goofball older brother Barley on a quest to bring their dad back, if only for a day.
That’s right, the “visitation spell” that the pair invoke only lasts for 24 hours — enough time, they reckon, to bid him a proper farewell. But something goes wrong (or there wouldn’t be enough material for a movie), leaving dad reconstituted only from the waist down, as the two embark on a desperate mission to find the magical object that will allow them to complete the spell in time.
In a Marvel-ous pairing, Ian and Barley are voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, respectively, and they bring a goofy chemistry to their interaction, with the level-headed younger brother forced to ground the free-spirited older one.

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