Onward – review

Great animations rest on being able to buy into their central conceit, and for all the efforts of exuberant lead-duo Tom Holland and Chris Pratt – and the odd heartfelt character moment – I never did. Its suburban America meets Middle Earth fantasia just left me asking, why? The device that sees a once-wizarding dead father spell-cast from the waist down, is the sketchiest means by which to haul the revelatory dénouement into place. The screenwriters appear to have started with the climax, then spent hours jumping through the narrative hoops necessary to reach it. There was something viable in its paternal dynamic – even in scripts as middling as this, Pixar know where the important beats lie. But for a studio that occasionally hits great heights, one can’t help but feel the churn of content-production does their talents a disservice.

B-

Inside Out – review

Stock-phrase alert; this is the lesser-spotted Conceptual Coup — an animation serving as both character drama and extended metaphor that captures a child’s inner turmoil when confronted with change. Dense with ideas but never confusing, it eschews the meta-questions its premise invites by micro-worldbuilding with an uncommon clarity, and by dazzling us with its irrepressible Pixar charm. That means sparkling animation, an indelible score and some brilliant jokes (including a mum-dad gag for the ages). It also means a vibrant, if familiar, voice cast. Amy Poehler’s turn as Joy borders on Americanist mania at times, but weightier grounding is never far away — her arc, and that of the child, culminates in the most humbling of dénouements. Unless you’ve had your emotions surgically removed, this is a must-see.

A