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Pixar Needs to Make More Movies Like Onward

That formula can get exhausting at times—the Pixar brand often seems a little too perfectly calibrated to push older viewers’ nostalgia buttons—but there’s no denying its effectiveness. Onward is informed by the ’80s aesthetic of tabletop games, minivans airbrushed with heavy-metal album-cover art, and cookie-cutter suburban life, along the lines of recent throwback hits such as Stranger Things. But while it’s grounded in a plot straight out of Amblin-era Spielberg, Onward wisely leans more on humor than drama to get its message across.

The script (by Scanlon, Jason Headley, and Keith Bunin) is set in a world that was once governed by magic and overrun with supernatural beasts. Though it’s still populated by elves, centaurs, flying pixies, and the like, it’s also now filled with modern conveniences, because the sorcery of old has been replaced by prosaic enchantments such as microwaves and internal combustion engines. Nestled in this middle-class Tolkienverse is Ian Lightfoot (voiced by Tom Holland), a gawky elvish high schooler with a confidence problem. Despite his blue skin and pointy ears, he’s a relatively stock awkward-teen character, unable to even work up the courage to invite his classmates over after school.

(Disney / Pixar)

Far more winning is Barley (Chris Pratt), Ian’s screwup older brother who spends his days tooling around town in a minivan and participating in wizard-y role-playing games. His knowledge of the arcane comes in handy when the brothers try to resurrect their deceased father and end up accomplishing only half the spell, summoning a disembodied pair of legs. Their efforts to complete their task lead them on an adventure that would fit perfectly into any DD volume, even though their trek includes updated twists, such as a search for gasoline and the transmogrification of a

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