ONWARD

ONWARD movie poster
In a fantasy world where magic has been replaced by modern technology, teenage elves Ian (the voice of Tom Holland) and older brother Barley (voiced by Chris Pratt) are about to embark on a mystical quest. Their mother Laurel (the voice of Julia Louis-Dreyfus) gives the boys a wizard's staff from their late father, who died before Ian was born, on Ian's 16th birthday. The staff's gem has a spell that will bring their dad back for 24 hours. Discovering he has powers, Ian is only able to conjure up his dad's legs before the precious stone is destroyed. Now the brothers must take the legs and seek out another magical gem to restore their father before time runs out.

Happily, Pixar abandons sequels in favor of an original concept. This wondrous CG animated feature is packed with heart and humor. Director Dan Scanlon ("Monsters University"), who wrote the screenplay with help from Jason Headley and Keith Bunin, was inspired by
his own family relationships. As a result, this emotional delight has much to say about sibling bonding and understanding one's worth in life. Tom Holland, Chris Pratt and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as the driven brothers and their mother, lead a terrific voice cast. Octavia Spencer is Corey the Manticore, a once-fearless part lion, bat and scorpion creature who is now a tame tavern proprietor. Mel Rodriguez provides the vocals for centaur cop Officer Colt Bronco, in a relationship with Laurel and desperately seeking to connect with her sons while upholding the law. Other familiar voices include Tracey Ullman, Wilmer Valderrama and studio regular John Ratzenberger. There are sight gags, references and surprises along the way. One visual treat is the colorfully decorated Guinevere, Barley's rundown van that takes the boys on their quest. Tiny angry sprites, in the form of a biker gang, are also in the mix. Listen for the new song “Carried Me With You” from Brandi Carlile over the closing credits. "Onward" is a splendid step forward for Pixar. (4/5 CAMS)

Rated PG (for action/peril and some mild thematic elements)
Running Time: 103 minutes

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