1. Emily Golus says:

    Insightful take on a great film! I agree that Pixar did well with acknowledging pain and loss instead of glossing over it. The brother theme was also beautiful—showing that other relationships can grow more significant against the backdrop of loss.

    Also, the humor is fantastic for fantasy lovers. The DnD tropes are particularly entertaining.

    Sadder than Up? Hmmm. It didn’t make me bawl like Up did, but Carl and Ellie did have a full life together, while Ian and Barley miss out on all the moments that could have been. I think it is more poignant in that way.

    • So true–I think “my people” made this movie. People who love fantasy enough to make fun of it–but not TOO much. 😉

      Your thoughts on different KINDS of sadness are so interesting! The sadness over losing what you had vs. the sadness of not getting the chance to have… I had never thought about it, but the pangs from each actually feel different. Makes me wonder if it a “preference” for one over the other is nature or nurture? In any case, it’s an interesting gateway into talking about categories of sadness in stories, just like there are different types of fear (not in degree, but in the very KIND of fear; i.e., horror vs. terror) in horror stories! Has anyone ever categorized different kinds of sadness, I wonder? I will have to ponder this more…

  2. Onward is a movie that I want to like sooooo much. It’s just… it’s just 99% perfect. Which makes that last 1% such a thorn.

    Having my own copy and watched it a few times, I think the problem is the beginning. There’s just not a proper set up for the ending the film wants to have. First, I think the opening is just a little too frantic. I know why they did it the way they did, that they wanted to show us a typical day, but it also keeps the audience from getting a proper grip on the world and characters.

    Second, we’re not really given much of a sense of the conflict between the brothers. Act 1 is really good at giving us a sense of how much the Ian wants and misses the father he never knew. However we’re never told nor shown what this same emptiness means for Barley until nearly act 3. And act 3 is where they want to pay off that the older brother was far more impacted by the loss while Ian had Barley all along. If anything, the van was more set up and paid off with Barley than the father was.

    Third, I think the opening narration does a disservice (and I wish more movies involving magic would stop with those). For one thing, a part of the conflict of the movie is over magic, which means it is a representative of the core of the film: the brothers’ relationship. By establishing at the start that magic is real and all in this world, it ends up weakening all of the brothers’ arguments – because we know fundamentally that Barley is right and Ian is wrong. The prologue should have been cut and whether magic is real or not should have been left more ambiguous at the start. (I was never clear on exactly magic’s position in the world – everyone seemed agnostic on it but… why?) Then let the brothers’ adventure and discovery that magic is real also be the audience’s discovery as well.

    So yeah, just a slight tweak on the opening, and I think the whole movie would land better.

What say you?