Movie review: Onward
Pixar's latest original animated film was always going to be a hard sell.
The trailers for Onward weren't too promising and didn't immediately draw you in.
The tale of two blue teenaged elf brothers going on an adventure came across as generic and vague, and the images of their half-resurrected dad with only legs intact and no torso were bizarre, to say the least.
To be honest, the first half of the actual film isn't Pixar's best or most inspired work either.
The characters, relationships, dialogue and scenarios appear all too familiar and even a little tired, simply transplanted into a modern fantasy world where magical creatures attend high school, a centaur is the police chief and a biker gang of sprites wreaks havoc.
Only when the Lightfoot brothers - shy, awkward and uncertain Ian (Tom Holland, doing his usual nervous energy shtick) and the boisterous doofus Barley (Chris Pratt, channelling a combination of Jack Black's characters from Tenacious D In The Pick Of Destiny and Orange County) - set off on their quest proper does Onward move, well, onward.
Stick around for the thoroughly unexpected - and unexpectedly tear-jerking - finale that makes the rough beginning of the journey all worth it.
It made me cry almost as much as Pixar's wonderfully poignant Coco (2017), and the weepy feeling lingered long after the film ended.
The easiest way for audiences to relate to Onward is to view it as Frozen for boys.
The way the bonds of brotherhood gradually unfold bears a resemblance to Disney's biggest money-maker.
One sibling discovers he has natural-born powers and learns how to control and master them, while the other may not be magically-inclined but acts as the crucial support system. One cannot succeed without the other.
And driving the plot is the loss of a parent at a very young age, and how the younger generation grieves and copes with life after death.
Even though Ian and Barley are far from being as memorable as Elsa and Anna, it's nice that there is now something on the big screen for sons and fathers to emotionally connect over.
Just as Ian sputters along in his spell-casting ways before rising to the occasion, Onward also eventually reaches a place where the magic happens.