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Onward ★★★★

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Director: Dan Scanlon

Stars: Chris Pratt, Tom Holland, Octavia Spencer, Julia Louise Dreyfuss

Released: 6th March 2020 (UK)

Pixar suffers from what you might call an unenviable dilemma – a victim of it’s own consistently high standards – with each new offering from the studio compared to what has come before.

The latest comes in the form of Onward. A quest movie that follows two Elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, as they embark on a journey to rediscover the long-forgotten use of magic in the hopes of bringing their late father back to spend one more day with them.

The animation is, as always, sublime and the film boasts another stellar voice cast with Chris Pratt and Tom Holland taking the leads as Barley and Ian respectively. However, while the plot is somewhat formulaic in it’s delivery, Onward points towards a more progressive Pixar.

It’s not just the reference to a same-sex couple that drives this change though, throughout the film, the writers Jason Headley and Keith Bunin, along with writer-director Dan Scanlon, are more aware of their younger audience than ever before. A single mother raising two teenage boys, a step-dad/partner trying to fit in and a sibling relationship that takes on far more than meets the eye. Pixar and it’s writers have always been praised for creating films that the whole family can enjoy, but this is a film that those outside the ‘normal’ family dynamics can truly relate to.

Pratt and Holland pair up well and their characters Ian and Barley play off one another well enough. Unfortunately for those two, their Mum Laurel (Julia Louise Dreyfuss) and the ‘mythical’ Manticore (Octavia Spencer) are arguably the film’s best double act as they track down the boys together.

Onwards delivers what it ultimately sets out to achieve – thoroughly enjoyable throughout with regular laugh-out-loud and wipe away the (happy and sad) tears moments. It’s not groundbreaking in terms of plot but it’s a fun magical frolic.

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