Monday, March 9, 2020


Onward is a Disney/Pixar movie that makes good use of the voice acting talents of Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Octavia Spencer and Tracey Ullman, and indifferent use (sorry) of Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Mel Rodriguez – whom I stupidly mistook for other actors while at the same time wondering why they weren't as good as they usually are. It's set in a world that used to be magical but is now kind of like ours, only with vestigial traces of magic like a centaur sheriff, a manticore who runs a medieval-themed restaurant, a cute pet dragon that reminded me of my parents' miniature dachshund, and so on. It has pixie motorcycle gangs that don't fly, mushroom-shaped houses and a couple of teenage troll brothers who set off on a quest to unearth a surviving nugget of magic so they can spend one day getting to know their dad, who died when they were very little.

Older bro Barley (Pratt) barely remembers him; younger Ian (Holland) has no memory at all of their dad. But on Ian's 16th birthday, they inherit his wizard staff and a spell that's supposed to bring him back for one 24-hour period. It only works halfway, however – the bottom half. So, joined by a pair of legs that can communicate with them only by bumping sneaker against sneaker, they set off in search of a crystal to bring the staff back to full power and finish the spell. Along the way, the brothers bicker and eventually fall out, before Ian realizes that everything he missed doing with his dad, he did with his older brother. It's a touching, feel-good family story with a surprising mixture of magic and modernity (such as rusty old vans and overpasses), climaxing in a scene involving an attack by a stone dragon that manages to be funny, exciting and heartwarming all at the same time.

Three Scenes That Made It For Me: (1) The brothers use a spell to impersonate their centaur stepdad, hampered by the fact that every time they lie, the illusion fades a little. (2) The invisible bridge spell, which will only bear your weight if you completely believe that it's there. It reminds me of an analogy I used to make during theological arguments about a certain doctrine, but I won't go into that right now. (3) Everything that happens after the brothers realize their long, arduous quest has led them around to (spoiler deleted), and Ian goes off to sulk while Barley keeps trying, and Ian comes to an important realization, and a curse brings the stone dragon into being, etc., etc. It's all the things I already said it is, and it fits together beautifully.

No comments: