Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: DISNEY/PIXAR’S ONWARD (no spoilers)

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.


Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: TOY STORY 4 (no spoilers)

TOY STORY 4 or what I am calling it, Woody’s Epilogue, is actually a pretty great…well..epilogue. Let’s face it, we all know that Toy Story 3 provided mostly all of the toys we’ve come to grow up with a satisfying conclusion to the “Andy Saga.” However, in the third movie, Bo Peep was no where to be found with one line of dialogue and one frowny face basically explaining that she was just gone, and not with them anymore. Well, this 4th movie is basically a Bo Peep RetCon. And it’s really, really good. I think I even enjoyed it more than the 3rd one. I’m going to be the controversial one by saying that I didn’t find Toy Story 3 all that memorable other than them about to be fried in that furnace and then the tear jerking ending of Andy giving his toys to a new little girl, Bonnie. And I’ll even double down on the shock value and tell you that #2 blew me away when I saw it in theaters and is still my favorite of the franchise to this day. Now is the time though, when all childish things must come to an end, and hopefully, even though this was great, it is definitely the last film.

And yes, I know that they introduce a new character named Forky (voice by the great Tony Hale), and I know that he’s getting his own Disney + series (hard pass), I’m meaning as far as theatrical films go, I hope this is the last one. And yes, I will even admit to you that this movie was unnecessary. But look at Pixar and their cash cow. They made three completely unnecessary films about Cars that were either too boring or too wacky. It was even revealed in a recent article that they started planning and writing Toy Story 4 before 3 even hit theaters, and that was 9 God damn years ago. But given that the recent article said that Pixar will be focusing on original films going forward and there won’t be many sequels anymore, and the Forky series, I have a feeling that this will be the last one. Because after the mid credits scene roles, there is literally no more story left to tell, even with Bonnie, because it was just be recycling Andy growing up all over again. You’ve had the toys almost get lost and die a thousand times, you’ve gotten the story line of what if some of the toys were collector’s items, and you’ve all had one dimensional villains that either want to destroy everything or keep the depressing status quo.

Which is why I liked this film quite a bit, because of Gabby Gabby, the first true villain of the franchise that actually had an arc (Sid, the Prospector, and the Giant Purple Bear weren’t all that interesting to be honest). They took her to a place I didn’t think they would go, and was very grateful to get something different. And the reason why I’m really calling this film “Woody (and Bo’s) Epilogue” is because, other than those two and a few new characters, all of the other ones get the shaft. And I get it, Toy Story 3 was their ending, and this is Woody and Bo’s, but this film has Buzz Lightyear featured the very least in any of the film in the franchise. Other than one ‘inner voice’ joke, that was actually hilarious and a lot of fun, I’d say Buzz is in the movie for less than 20 minutes, with that joke being the brunt of it. I guess I could forgive it, seeing that the film opens 9 years prior to show how Bo really went away and Woody seemingly giving her one last goodbye, but there had to have been some way to feature Buzz more in this film. Consider that my biggest criticism of the film.

The rest is fantastic though. I loved that the film took place mainly in an RV, at a fair, and one of my favorite locales in the whole franchise, an antique shop. I loved Gabby Gabby’s really creepy ventriloquist henchmen (provided some weird dark comedy). I loved the new characters, like Forky mentioned earlier, a pair of duck and bunny stuff prize dolls voiced by Key and Peele, and especially Duke Caboom voice by none other than, the celebrity getting the most love he’s ever gotten in his career this year, Keanu Reeves. He completely steals the show, and the film even (stay thru the mid credits!) gets Reeves to do his one signature line we’ve made fun of him for, but also praised him for, and have been doing homages ever since. I found myself laughing out loud in the theater quite a bit too, which just gives the movie even more brownie points. If you are a kid film made for kids, but you get adults to laugh out loud and smile along, you know you are a special film.

And obviously, since we’ve had this franchise since the mid 90s, this is the most visually striking of all the films. They manage look crisper and more detailed every outing, and that is very much appreciated (although for the love of God don’t run out of ideas and then George Lucas everything by remastering the first three films with better digital effects). The voice acting is all there, with Hanks and Potts almost making me cry with their interactions. It’s a very, very solid Pixar movie in general. And was so, so, so, so much better than the kind of okay sequel we got last year with Incredibles 2. I’m very, very happy and excited for the future of Disney/Pixar after this film, and the fact that they said they are going to focus on original tales from now on. But this needs to be the last Toy Story theatrical film. There is no where left to go. And I swear to God, someone needs to hand me a poison vial or shoot me in the face if they ever announce a Cars 4.

My Rank Of Toy Story Films:

  1. Toy Story 2
  2. Toy Story
  3. Toy Story 4
  4. Toy Story 3