Onward (2020)

Rates: * * 1/2

Why did I watch it? Pixar completist.

Cast, crew, etc.

In a parallel universe (I guess?) magical creatures like elves and sprites have evolved into a contemporary, human-like society. They drive cars and work in offices and have, for the most part, forgotten their traditional ways. But then: a nerdy young elf finds he has a magical heritage and… groooooan. This is actually torture to write out.

Cards on the table: if I had been in charge of Pixar, this never would have gotten past the first pitch meeting. Which is to say, I am not a fan of the trope of fairytale creatures living in the modern world (a la ‘Bright’, an even worse movie than this one). I don’t think it’s funny, I don’t think it’s clever, I don’t really get it, at all.

But, even setting aside my own prejudices, this movie is a slog. The story – misfit boy finds himself – has been done approximately 80 trillion times, and nearly always better. The first half hour or so, with a lot of unfunny banter between two mismatched siblings (Chris Pratt and Tom Holland) is particularly tough to endure; a lot of leaden lines, and family sitcom style cliches.

That this movie gets to the rating I gave it is down to the second half, which has a couple of fun set pieces, and a vastly superior B plot, where Julia Louis Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer have a fun side adventure. And the movie looks incredible; some very impressive animation, especially with the backgrounds, and especially with the kids rickety old van.

But I mean: remember when Pixar were hip? Like, their movies WERE funny and clever. What happened? Did they just run out of inaminate things (toys, bugs, cars) to animate? Or, did the old guys (Doctor, Bird, Lasseter) freeze out the new talent for too long, and now they have either left in disgrace or run out of steam.

Maybe just too many sequels?

Hard to say.

But this is the worst of their movies for me; lacking in every area except looks.

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