Run time: 107 mins
Do families need fathers? Onward delivers a love song to atypical clans, which couldn’t end on a sweeter, or clearer, note.
A charming tale which explores the frayed bond between two elf brothers: shy, introverted Ian (voiced by Tom Holland) and the bumbling Barley (Chris Pratt) who lost their father before they got to know him. Their mum has raised them the best she could in New Mushroomtown, a Middle Earth inspired slice of suburbia brimming with trolls, unicorns, elves etc. And like our world, they live in a landscape where digital technology threatens to replace imagination.
As could have been guessed from the moment “dead dad” entered the picture, Onward is another soul-crushing tearjerker in the tradition of Coco and Inside Out. It’s like the Pixar team set up a betting pool on who can make audiences choke on their own tears the fastest. In the end, the affecting simplicity of the family dynamic shines through; Onward isn’t just an abstract parable of the absent father, but a relatable tale about how the broken bond between two brothers is mended by a common cause. (research Jack Whiting) Sounds fab, if unusual in the cartoon of things. Come and see.