Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Oh, and he told me to give you this...

I really wasn't looking forward to this one.

From the trailer, it looked like it was another dead parent movie, specifically dead dad, and at this time in my life, that's not a ride I really wanted to take. My daughter wanted to go, however, and as far as I can tell, her dad isn't dead. In fact, that dude is (currently) alive and well.

Even if Pixar is always trying to kill him.

For most of you, the last word you'd use to describe Pixar's Onward would be 'sneaky', but that's probably because you weren't bracing yourself as the lights went down. Assuming that Pixar was coming for my heart with the deceased father angle, I spent a good portion of the first hour steeling myself for the inevitable emotional outpouring. My dad was, at the time, less than a week out from major surgery, so I had to be ready for the moment, which in a way, never came.

Wait, what?

It turns out, Onward isn't about the relationship a young boy has with his father (or at least not really). It's instead a rather poignant story about brotherhood and those family ties that have nothing to do with our parents. I grew up as the middle of five kids and being that we've never all lived under the same roof, have punched the clock as the baby, the middle child, and the oldest kid in the house. Needless to say, I saw pieces of myself in both Ian and Barley.

Tom Holland plays the aforementioned Ian, a pretty shy high-school kid, struggling to find his way in the mythical/magical world of New Mushroomton (sounds like my favorite Mario Kart track). His older brother, Barley (Chris Pratt [and somehow not Jack Black]) is a bit of loser, obsessing over role-playing games and consistently (though inadvertently) embarrassing his brother. Barley's a good dude, but when you look at him through Ian's eyes...well, anyone's eyes, honestly...he's a bit...much.

Did you ever see Frequency? Just curious... (not sure if it applies)
On Ian's 16th birthday, he's not only given a magical staff, but a spell, that if done correctly, will grant him one whole day with his long-deceased pops. The whole thing is a bit overwhelming, obviously, and Ian (with Barley' botches the spell and ends up with just half a dad. No, not one that's too busy at work or something, or not even one that's like only the charred side of Two-Face, which would have ruled, but instead Ian gets his dad...from the waist down. While this might be good enough for mom, the boys are bummed to say the least. Or they would be, if Barley didn't have a plan. A very enthusiastic, though impossibly ill-formed plan at that.

Shocking no one, our mismatched duo head out on the road with nothing in common but a desire to see their father again. As much as Barley's a bumbling idiot, Ian counters with a tightness that makes Cameron Frye look like Ferris Bueller. The two brothers are going to have to not only make it work, but do it quickly. The next time the sun sets? Dad is gone forever. And in Barley's moderately rad van, it's going to be an excellent adventure.

Nice wheels, Barley. 
Speaking of going the distance with someone you don't see eye-to-eye with, here are the Yays and Boos. I left the theater a bit indifferent toward Onward, but after a little deliberation, I think it's an excellent film. Quite possibly the best I'll see in the theater for a long time...wink wink.

Embarrassing. Not this scence, no.
How hard I laughed, actually.
  • Whoa, whoa, whoa. A Simpsons short film in front of a Pixar flick? Is this heaven?
  • (and to have it be about Maggie [and be good]? Pure bonus)
  • The mascot at the Manticore's tavern looked so cool. Shockingly, even more so when it's face is set ablaze and thrown across the room (who knew?).
  • I get that it was magic gone awry, but a hearty thank you to shrinking Barley. Pretty sure there was a point where I thought less is most certainly more of this dude. (again, good dude, but maybe dial it back a bit?)
  • As I recall, the last LGBTQ reference Disney included in a big feature was half a second in duration (I'm thinking the live-action Beauty and the Beast [review]), so it seems this three-quarter second mention is...improvement? A little bit? Yay for...progress, slight as it may be.
  • Okay, that invisible bridge scene was really good. Really good. But also a bit scary, too. Uh, for my...daughter. I was fine. Promise.
  • I don't know if you not old people will get this, but when Barely ghost-rides his van into the boulders, I was instantly ten years old again.
  • Violet was very irritated when the cops showed up, which I thought was hilarious. She was so agitated, I thought she was bored with the movie (or wanted to go home) or something, and when I questioned her, she rolled her eyes, they don't have time for the police, Dad, duh. (the 'duh' was implied, but still)
  • That gelatinous cube scene was wild! Usually I'm not afraid of Jell-o. Usually.
  • Everything to do with that amazing dragon was...amazing. Easily the best scene in the film, we were all astonished when that sucker came to life. Oh, and when Mom jumps in (Ian's mom, not my wife) to help with the dragon slaying? It was something that would have made Dirk the Daring proud. My wife sure was.
  • And finally, maybe it's foolish to heap any amount of praise on a company that makes kajillions of dollars a year, but Pixar, even at its worse, is such an incredible gift to the world. I know, I know, that sounds a bit pathetic - I get it - but think about what they contribute on an annual basis. At least once a year, they release these lovingly-crafted stories that make us all appreciate the world in a way that we either never considered or had long forgotten about. Onward, with it's fantastic setting, may not be for everyone, but it's certainly about everyone,
I'm still on the fence with how I feel about that lady...
  • Can Tom Holland ever get to speak in his normal accent?
  • Ooh, the cringe-factor on that part invite was record setting. Even my six year-old covered her eyes.
  • For little guys, Sprites are surprisingly huge pricks.
  • Yikes, Ian getting caught in that lie about Barley was rough. Imagine if you had to tell the truth about your front of your family? Could I just die instead?
  • Pawn Shop Lady. I don't remember her, but I think it's for a good reason.*shudder*
  • I'm not sure if it was the actual movie that was slow, or that the brothers really needed a swift kick in the pants, but guys, we're on the clock! Let's go, huh?
  • Aww, Barley's fourth memory about his dad.
  • Speaking of Dad, there are some pretty touching moments with him, which were appreciated. But all that said, he's very...crotch-y, you know?
  • Okay, so there's a point in this film where the walls are closing in, and our boys might get squashed to death. Now, you know it's not going to happen, but still. For the first ten years of my life, I was convinced that was how I was going to die. (damn you, 80s upbringing)
  • And finally, when the movie was over, I leaned into Violet on my left and asked her, what did you think? This is a girl who takes four-hundred words to ask what time dinner is, and all she can muster is Okay. Not even it was okay, just the one word. Okay. Just okay? Are you sure. She nods. Guess I'm not handing Two Dollar Cinema over to her anytime soon. Shoot, it takes me twelve-hundred words...just to introduce an okay movie, let alone write something (mostly) coherent about it.
It looks like Pixar's next film is called Soul, and thankfully this one doesn't seem to feature parents who are no longer with us. Phew, right? I could use a break from trying not to weep funeral-style in front of my kids. Instead, apparently Soul is about a middle-aged teacher who is struggling with the idea that he's never really going to live his dream. emotional connection...there.

Totally looking forward to it.



  1. I'm a bit more curious about this now that I've read yours and Allie's review. I think if they decide to drop it on VOD or Disney + early I'll watch it.

    1. You gotta check it out, Brittani. It's pretty...sweet.

      Disney didn't really market this one that heavy, so I'm sure what little box they got is probably good enough. Maybe a quick blast to DVD/Blu and then straight to Disney+? The Frozen II gesture was nice, let's keep it up, Walt.

  2. "Ian gets his dad...from the waist down. " - what? Pixar's premises are getting crazier and crazier. This has Pratt so I don't know if I'll have patience for it

    1. Yeah, if you're anything less than an innocent child, everything about Dad's resurrection can be...well, inappropriate.

      Pratt is a bit much, but if you just pretend he's Jack Black you'll do fine. Assuming, you like JB (if you liked the Jumanji film(s), you're good, trust me)

  3. Oh, this is the last movie you saw in the cinema?! That's better. I loved this one. It made me really emotional and I'm an only child. I don't get the hate tbh, like, yes, is it the BEST thing out there. NO but it's miles ahead of so many movies as of late that I will protect it from the haters!
    Holland's voice work here was way better than in Spies in Disguise.. maybe it's because he had a better character.. who knows.

    1. No, no. It was Bloodshot, unfortunately.

      Aw, I'm with you, even if I have a million siblings. Such a punch in the heart! I can't imagine anybody hating this film, and I think anybody crapping on it probably didn't see it. (I will admit, the previews weren't all that spectacular)

      I have a good feeling I'll be seeing Spies in Disguise at some point soon, so I'll report back on Holland.