9/10 Disney/Pixar continues its winning streak following the great “Toy Story 4” and “The Incredibles 2” beforehand. While both of those films were great, it is refreshing to see Pixar back with an original film (the first of two this year). Where “Frozen” was about the love and bond between two sisters, “Onward” is about the love and bond between two brothers. As a man who has a younger brother, this film hit close to home for me. Even if you don’t have a brother though, there is so much to get out of this new Pixar classic. The emotional content is extremely strong, there is some solid humor, memorable characters, great pacing and an overall very high fun factor. The score and soundtrack set the mood very well and the fantasy aspects of the score never steal from other fantasy scores like “The Lord of the Rings”. The music here stands on its own. Pixar continues to perfectly cast its voice actors and even though Chris Pratt has done voice acting before in two Lego movies, this is a totally new character and you will not be thinking of those previous movies he has done while you are watching this one. Holland has done voice acting as well in “Spies in Disguise” but I have not yet seen that movie so I can’t speak to whether his voice work here is similar or noticeably different. Near the beginning of the film Chris Pratt’s character is rather annoying and I was afraid that his character would wear on me as the film went on but he actually became very likeable as the film went on and both lead characters (Tom Holland is great in this) are very well developed. Normally I would complain that having one or both parents be dead in this film is a total Disney cliché, but the fact that our lead characters’ father is deceased isn’t some rehashed character trait to make our characters stronger but instead an integral plot point that sets the whole film in motion. The father’s death is done tastefully and used wisely so I didn’t mind it at all. The supporting characters (Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer) have a fun subplot as they pursue the boys and Dreyfus has some great moments at the climax of the film. My only mild complaints were that, like the most recent Star Wars movie, its LGBT content was very forced and shoehorned in to push an agenda as opposed to a natural character that improved the film’s plot. There was also the fact that the dad is only the waist down, not being able to see or hear. Yet at various points in the film, he is able to know where his sons are and seek them out. This happens during a scene when the dad exits their van as loud music is playing and he goes straight for each son, one at a time, to get them to dance. He would have had no way of knowing where they were standing. The complaints are mild and won’t take away from your enjoyment of this fantastic film. The year is early but this is easily the best animated film of 2020 so far and will be very tough to beat going forward. Head onward to check out this fantastic fantasy adventure.
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