“Hey, we’re going to be watching the trailer for our new movie… Onward!” said Starlord out of the blue amidst one of my Pokemon List Videos (Pokemon is my guilty pleasure, sue me!)
A couple of weeks later, after an impromptu evening out, we decide to pull curtains on the largely uneventful weekend by watching Pixar’s latest to hit the big screen.
Onward begins with an interesting premise – A world with magical creatures living seemingly ordinary un-magical lives. One where you’d see Unicorns eating out of trash cans and elves going to high-school. Orcs and Centaurs drive around in cars and do everyday jobs to sustain themselves. All revolving around the fact that magic was hard to master and the inhabitants of the world found easier ways of getting by. It started with inventing the lightbulb and pulled us all the way to an alternate universe version of today, full of blaring cars on the streets and smartphones in everyone’s pockets!
In this confusingly delightful world, we meet Ian. A timid and shy young elf who’s just turned 16 and resolves to be a ‘new’ Ian from that day forth. Ian lives with his Aerobics loving mother, Laurel and history nerd older brother, Barley who is as shown in many an occasion later, a ‘screwup’ Their father had passed away shortly before Ian’s birth, leaving him always wishing for some time to spend with him.
They get a magical staff and instructions their father left behind for them to bring him back for 1 day. Barley tries the spells to no fruition. That night, when Ian tries the same spell, it almost works before a mishap causes the father to reappear from the waist down. How Ian and his bumbling brother, Barley go on an adventure to find another magical gem to bring back their father within 24 hours encountering restauranter manticores, biker pixies, magical ravens, crossing perilous booby traps with the police and their mother on their firmly tail learning a little more about magic and a lot more about life all while lugging their father’s legs, forms the rest of the heartwarming story.
Tom Holland and Chris Pratt are amazing as the dysfunctional duo and Holland’s seamless transition into American never ceases to amaze me. The character models seem to derive heavily from the facial cues and mannerisms of the actors and that is on perfect display. The world-building is fantastic with there being very little time and with the opening sequence, the story is all set to take off. The voice cast is strong with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mel Rodriguez, and Octavia Spencer giving powerful performances living the characters they play. On a purely technical note, this is yet another win for Pixar which has consistently churned out some of the best-animated films in recent times.
Director Dan Scanlon has been one of the pillars of Pixar in many of its feature film outings. He delivers yet again with this. The screenplay also co-written from him reportedly derives heavily from his personal story of growing up without a father. The film is crisp hitting all the right notes without overdoing anything although it lacks in terms of the ingenuity that Pixar brings in every time, save the ‘sub-urban fantasy’ setting with fans growing used to it over the years. One of the main criticisms that this film has gathered is, it suffering in comparison to Pixar’s other classics but in my humble opinion, it takes nothing away from this as it stands as a heartwarming comedy on its own two feet.
When fantasy films today try to inject realism into their massively mythical worlds with science, a mythical world overwhelmed with science and technology searching for ‘the little bit of magic left’ is a story worth telling, and to paraphrase my friend who watched the movie just before me, “It’s a story you’d not want to end!”