Wow, with Disney/Pixar’s ONWARD, I have not cried that hard in a movie theater since the beginning of Pixar’s Up. Not a bad cry, like the movie sucked, but a beautiful, fantastic, sinus relieving Niagra Falls of emotion. And I probably haven’t cried that hard at an ending since the end of Spielberg’s E.T. I was literally bawling like a baby needing its bottle, and I’m not afraid to admit it. This movie has the most emotional ending to a movie since, I mean I can’t even think right now my eyes are so tired from crying. And to think because of the low box office this weekend, and all you dumb motherfuckers afraid to crawl out of your panties and do anything because of the coronavirus, that will end up being all that ONWARD will be known for. Released on the wrong weekend, because of mass hysteria, known as one of Pixar’s failures alongside The Good Dinosaur. THIS IS NOT EVEN CLOSE TO BALLPARK MEDIOCRE QUALITY THAT THE GOOD DINOSAUR WAS! NOT EVEN CLOSE. This was a solid, SOLID, cool, mystical, fantasy road trip adventure from the good ol’ folks at the almost always reliable Pixar studio. It was way better than Toy Story 4, way better than Incredibles 2…probably its best since Inside Out. Just another reason why Pixar needs to stop with sequels, and give us good ol’ fashioned original content such as this. This was a real treat to watch, and is now my favorite film of 2020 so far.
When thinking upon it, this is technically not Pixar’s first “road trip” movie. You can technically, TECHNICALLY, count the two Finding Nemo/Dory films as those. However, you could say that this is the first…”road quest” movie that actually involves an actual road. I say quest, because the movie is set in a fantasy world where unicorns, elves, fairies, minotaurs, what have you, enrich this planet like we do ours, and while they used to do all the magic, spell conjuring, castle adventure type stuff of yore that we read in novels and play in Dungeon & Dragon role playing table games, they now live life, like we do, and all of them have forgotten the ways of the past. Instead of using their wings, fairies and others with wings have gotten lazy and use cars and motorcycles. Instead of creating light with wands, they invented electricity. I could go all day, but you get the gist, especially if you’ve seen any marketing for it either. The movie is about two elf brothers who set out on a quest to find a spell that will bring back their deceased father and to discover if there is still magic out there. That’s all I’m going to say plot wise. If you’ve seen the trailers or tv spots, you’ll know there is more to it, like half being legs traveling with the brothers, but the less you know, the better. The movie plays on all of the tropes you’ve read and seen in other movies and television shows with hilarious effect. There are cute jokes for kids, there are huge belly aching laughs for adults. It is a great family film, but if you are a kid reading this, just to warn you, you might see mommy or daddy cry.
All of the foreshadowing is there, but I didn’t end up guessing what was going to happen in this movie because, frankly, I didn’t want to. I was enjoying the movie too much and didn’t want to think hard and ruin it. So when in that mindset, I didn’t find it predictable, and a couple of twists had me going, “oh wow, didn’t see that coming but maybe I should have because of this and this at the beginning.” The animation? Perfect, as usual. At this point, commenting on how good Pixar animation is like going to Philadelphia and going to an off the wall cheese steak place and commenting on how good the cheese steak is. It’s the story and voice acting that goes a long way. Tom Holland does a great job as one of the brothers named Ian Lightfoot. He doesn’t sound like Peter Parker and manages to even sound different than his last and very recent voice work in Spies In Disguise. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is great as their Mom. Didn’t detect any Elaine Benis or Selena Myers in there at all. But the real standout is Chris Pratt as the older brother Barley. He really gets into the character, creating something unique that won’t remind you of Owen Grady or Peter Quill. All of the “road trip” pits stops of any road trip movie are here, but all the stops subvert your expectations, especially the final one, which finds a better way of going the full circle route than a recent road trip movie ten years ago tried to do. If I reveal the movie, you’ll guess the ending so I think I’ll stop there.
The guy that wrote and directed this Pixar movie wrote and directed Monsters University, a fine but mostly unnecessary prequel to one of Pixar’s other great originals. Needless to say this was a vast improvement over that one. Especially the ending. The ending to this is probably the most perfect ending to a Pixar film other than the first Incredibles, Ratatouille or Wall-E. My wife and I were needing more popcorn napkins to wipe up all the tears. Like I said, it’s a shame it didn’t make all that much this weekend. Who knows, maybe it could be…infectious, and end up having long legs at the box office once all this fear and paranoia over the coronavirus subsides over the next month. I hope so, but in the meantime, I’m not afraid to call this Disney/Pixar box office bomb one of my favorite films of 2020, even by the end of the year it is likely to stay in my top ten if not top twenty. Magical in in nature, magic literally comes out of the screen and into the audience. I also love how they incorporate the title into the movie, it was subtle yet cute, when in most movies if they bring up the title in dialogue it gets an eye roll from me. If you are reading this review, and really want to see this, yet are afraid to leave your house in fear of what you shouldn’t really be afraid of right now, go out to the theater and give this a shot. See it with your family, you’ll have a wonderful, emotionally satisfying time, I guarantee it. We can’t keep checking CNN to see how many people this dumb fucking virus has infected every ten minutes. We need to look to the future. We need to move onward.
P.S. Forgot to mention that there is a wonderful The Simpsons short before the movie with a story about Maggie which was absolutely delightful. It was basically announcing that The Simpsons is joining the Disney family since they bough out 20th Century Fox, and it also lets you know that The Simpsons humor we all know and love won’t be messed with and will be in tact. Simpson/Disney jokes galore where the Duff beer cans making an appearance as a wink wink to the audience that the buy out won’t fuck with out favorite dysfunctional cartoon family. Made me smile.