My brother is a wizard!
When I was a kid, I really believed that my brother is a wizard. First of all, he’s two years older, so that already meant something – he smart, he’s so good at math! If that’s not magic, then I don’t know what is. He is an amazing cook, can prepare something from nothing, unlike me, who always need a recipe and just right amount of ingredients. He’s great with logical thinking, puzzles and riddles, he is a cool dad and… I know that in the end of the day, despite of all differences, I can count on him. Always. The “kid” patch stuck with me, and he drives me crazy sometimes, but my brother, for you? There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do.
This might contain spoilers to the plot – fair warning!
Many ages ago, the world was full of wonder.
I like animated films and I love a good fantasy. Tom Holland announced on his Instagram, that he will be a part of Disney-Pixar movie called Onward in 2018 and to be honest? I didn’t care very much. I mean, call me when it’s in theaters, okay? A lot is going on lately (I wrote a tiny-story about it, check it out here) and I have no time to keep the hype alive for 18 months (Black Widow – you are taking the biggest hit from my side, sorry about that; this movie is 8 years late, y’all).
Trailer was online for quite some time, but I saw it first in the cinema, when I watched Frozen 2 with my cousin, last Christmas. And I was doomed, from the very first second! Sadly, polish cinemas only distribute “kid’s movies” with dubbing (which, by the way, is not half-bad), I guess that makes sense, since target audience are children. Or are they? I will get back to that in a minute.
The story is not ordinary and it ends in unexpected way – for me at least, because I’m sure there are people who “predicted” this kind of ending. Well, I for one don’t like to assume anything while watching, I am more wait-and-see kind of viewer. It is actually a reason I stopped watching trailers of movies that I actually wait for (I only saw one teaser for Infinity War and one of Endgame, that’s a huge thing lot :D). Two brothers – younger Ian and older Barley, live with their mum and pet-dragon, among other magical creatures in a world that no longer uses (or needs) magic. Sad reality, that mirrors times we live in – magic was too difficult to master, so folks started looking for other, simpler solution. Like inventing power, cars, skyscrapers. Long story short: comfort over challenge. Ian just turned 16 but he didn’t know, that everything will change.
On a quest the clear path is never the right one.
Pixar is known from its tearjerkers: Wall-E, Up, Coco, Inside Out or upcoming soul-destroyer Soul. Onward did not stay behind, though I was preparing for a river of tears. Ultimately, Marta and I ended up the usual way, saying “DUCK, it happened again” at the end and laughing that we’re in fact 5-years-old.
Story begins on Ian’s 16th birthday, with typical teenage struggle – how to be cooler or better, how to make friends, how to live up to the expectations he put on himself. Expectations that perhaps his deceased father would have? Yes, Ian was born after his dad passed, he never got the chance to meet him. But in his eyes, he was this confident, funny and smart hero. His absolute contrary is Barley – passionate about history, magical heritage and role-playing games, a boy who is all over the place with no regards for rules, his younger brother or the world.
Laurel, now (not so) single mum gives them a very special gift from their father – a letter, magical staff and rare gem, that activates the staff. Letter contains “visualization spell” a way for boys to bring back their father for one day and one night. Barley tried and tried, but he couldn’t make it work. Hopes, that we so high up, fell down with a bang, crushing young hearts.
No one expected for Ian to have magic in him. Magic, that will wake otherworldly powers buried in the gem. He recited the spell and… Couldn’t hold it long enough.
Whatever it takes I am gonna meet my dad!
Things got complicated, when Barley decided to help Ian hold up the spell – it broke and… They only got half of dad. To be more specific – the lower half. The legs. Stunned by what happened, at first they don’t know what to do. They have 24 hours, one day and one night to get rest of dad! What do to, where to go? Luckily, Barley’s love for history and RPGs turns out to be useful – all they need is to acquire another gem, to reattempt the spell.
And so the epic, magical quest begins! For both of them it will be life-changing experience. Ian, the quiet one faces this extraordinary opportunity to meet his dad. To tell him about his life, what he’s done, what the wants, how much he misses having a father. Ian will have to step up and believe in himself, as he is the one with wizarding abilities. For a shy elf he is, this requires lots of courage and stepping out of the comfort zone. But the motivation is real. For Barley, it’s a dream come true; not necessarily because of reuniting with his dad (at first), but because he could put his knowledge and passion to good use. Finally! Two utterly different characters had to, against all odds, work together to make it work.
For me, this movie had a special significance – having and older brother, I know how it feels like to always be the “second”, always be the “kid”. It’s a natural thing, when you are the younger sibling, but it does not mean that you are the worse one. A lot depends from your parents, actually – if they treat you equally despite of age differences, you both have the same chances, opportunities and hopefully attention. But still, the younger one is always a little further in the shadow. So, for Ian – who lived in his hermetic world of harmony, now must cooperate with Barley – a troublemaker, overly-enthusiastic freak that makes Ian feel… Embarrassed?
For a spell to work, you have to speak from your heart’s fire.
Onward in a simple, but beautiful way shows that brotherhood is one of the strongest kinds of love in the world. I can tell you from experience, no matter how much my brother screws up, no matter what dumb duck shit he will do, I will always have his back. And sure, I… I had moments, when I was… Ashamed? Yeah, I admit that. But nothing, nothing will ever change the unconditionally of my love for him. And I know, that underneath the joker-act he puts up, underneath the unserious behavior, he would walk through the fire for me. I mean, I only got one ticket from police, first and only – for public intoxication (I KNOW HOW IT SOUNDS, but hear me out: we were going for a Valentine’s Day party in a club and we wanted to have ONE BEER before. There were 6 of us and each got ticket. For 100 PLN) and I came home, freaked out, thinking What am I going to say to my parents?! So, naturally I talked with my big bro and he said, that he’s proud of me (XD) and that he will pay for that ticket. Few years after he admitted that he told our parents right away, but they kept it a secret.
Ian and Barley have ups and downs, but in the end one would not succeed without the other. It was Barley who taught Ian how to cast the spells – using his heart and inner strength; Thanks to Ian, Barley could understand that people are different and not everyone will have the same goals and priorities as him. Only by working together and accepting each other the way we are, true magic can happen.
I never had a dad, but I always had you.
There were scenes that my heart cried a little. Like the one, when Ian was listening to the only tape he had, with his father’s voice. He plays the tape once, just listening. The second time is… A conversation, that he probably had a million times already. I don’t want to imagine what it might feel like to grow up without a dad, or a mum for that matter.
Another moment that was quite emotional for me, was the invisible bridge. They way Barley supported and rooted for his younger brother to believe and cross it, without stepping on actual bridge… It kept me shivering over the edge, my heart was pounding so loud!!
But the cherry on top was the last scene. Barley kept saying, that he has only 3 memories of dad. He buried one very deep, as he was ashamed of it. Well, maybe not exactly ashamed, but it was a sad memory. And boy, it broke my heart. He said, that when their dad was in the hospital, hooked to all the tubes and machines, he was supposed to say goodbye. He didn’t, it was too painful. In the key scene, Ian realizes that okay, he never got to know his father but… He always had a dad. Barley was this father figure that took care of him, played with him, busted his balls form time to time, but most importantly… Was always there for him, with all the screwed-up-weirdness. Ian understood that he missed something that he never and always had. For Barley this was even more important – this was his only chance to say proper goodbye. So, when the spell went through at sundown, it was Barley who was reunited with dad.
Now, let me tell you why this particular scene felt so sentimental for me. I didn’t got the chance to say goodbye to my grandfathers. I don’t blame my parents, I was relatively young (and I know that they think that I can’t handle stuff, which… In this case is true) and they wanted me to remember them in their healthier days. But there is one thing I will regret for the rest of my life – my grandpa, the one that died later, asked me one day to develop the pictures for him. Photographs of entire family, him with me and my brother, with his kids, with my mum. And I kept promising him that I will do it, just not today, maybe tomorrow… And I kept pushing this aside, until he no longer needed them. And if I could turn back time, I would get those photos for him the same day.
There is a mighty warrior inside of you, you just have to let him out.
Newest Pixar film is a lovely story of bond stronger than anything. Full of dangerous and funny adventures, happy moments and gut-wrenching scenes. Besides the plot, the animation itself proves that Disney has top designers and IT specialists working for them. The graphic design was to the point, the colors used were so soothing and warm… For a minute there, it resembled fluo-art that wirrow creates.
Even though I watched it with polish dubbing, which (once again) was really good, I couldn’t stop smiling on another great casting choice, Disney+Pixar – KUDOS! Tom Holland as Ian, the dorky and socially uncomfortable elf? This was the only way. On the other side, Chris Pratt, the voice of Barley, the proud older brother, with superpower of making one feel adorably uncomfortable? Hell yes! Their chemistry from set of Infinity War was so pure and with Onward it only got intensified.
Onward is an absolute must-watch for… All adults out there! When we went to the cinema to see it, there was no single kid in the room. 10 adults, thank you very much. This is something that I love about “kid’s movies”, especially those from Disney. We, the 20-,30- years old, remember the classic stories, like The Lion King, 101 Dalmatians, Toy Story – and even if the story has a well-known structure, it’s an integral part of our childhood. Those tales raised us, kept us company on rainy daisy, were the climax of every kinder-birthday-party and sleepover! We are the Disney generation. And guess what? I love it.