MOVIE REVIEW: Onward
Coming to theaters this weekend is Pixar's Onward, the studios first non-sequel film in two years.
The movie tells the tale of two elf brothers who live in a world that was once magical, but has since forgotten the magic. So, now, pixies roam around in biker gangs, unicorns are raccon like vermin and centaurs are police officers. On Ian's (Tom Holland) 16th birthday, his mother (Julia Louie-Dryfus) gives him and his brother Barley (Chris Pratt) a magical staff left to them by their father who has long been deceased. The staff comes with a spell that allows for their father to come back for 24 hours, but things go wrong and they are only able to conjure half of him. So, the two brothers go on a glorious quest to find a magical phoenix gem that will allow them to complete the spell. Along with the help of a warrior-turned-theme-restaurant-owner Manticore (Octavia Spencer), Ian and Barley have to work together to bring their dad back.
To be honest, the advertising campaign did nothing for me and my excitement to see this movie was minimal. But, I have learned to trust my instincts with Pixar films as the end product always ends up better that the marketing. While I wouldn't say this was my favorite Pixar film, I thoroughly enjoyed the film.
I thought the world building was quite creative. I enjoyed how they meshed the old magical world with the newer technologically advanced society. I will have to sit and freeze frame the movie when it comes out on digital so I can catch a lot of the sight gags.
The problem with Onward is that it follows the same kind of Pixar trope we expect from every Pixar movie - two buddies going on a quest to find themselves. That said, I enjoyed the ride and thought that the movie was surprisingly emotional. Having lost my father a few years ago and wishing I could spend a little more time with him, I totally got the urgency of needing to see their father one more time.
Tom Holland and Chris Pratt were incredible as the principle characters. Holland brought that kind of nerdy charm he popularized with Peter Parker in the Spider-Man movies and Pratt brought that oafish charm that he brought to us with Star-Lord in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.
I am certainly appreciative that Pixar is now moving away from the sequels and, in this story, they brought a nicely resonant and magical tale.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention the Simpsons short that came before Onward. Entitled "Playdate With Destiny," the short follows Maggie Simpson as she finds "love" at the park. The whole thing is done without dialogue and, for a Simpsons short, it is fairly innocuous for those concerned with family friendly content. I loved that they started off with a silhouette of Mickey that turned into Homer's face surrounded by two donuts and then ended with Mickey in the Gracie Films logo. I thought it was a really cute short and a great way to introduce The Simpsons to the Disney family.