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Laramie Movie Scope: Onward

Another Pixar film about family relationships

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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March 29, 2020 – This is one of the last movies I saw before the local theaters closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It took me a while to get around to writing this review because it, and everything else besides the pandemic, have faded into the background. Look for this entertaining, upbeat animated fantasy movie on video.

Like other Pixar-Disney films, this one is focused on family relationships, mainly the relationship between two elf brothers, the bookish, geeky Ian Lightfoot, and his big, fun-loving older brother, Barley. Ian has always felt abandoned after the death of his father when he was an infant. Barley, who is old enough to remember his father, seems better adjusted, but it turns out he has some emotional scars as well.

On Ian's 16th birthday, his mother, Laurel, gives him a wizard's staff that belonged to his father, along with a message from him. The message indicates that the staff, along with a rare gem and a magic spell can bring Ian's father back to life for one day. Barley, who is an expert in magic spells, is unable to make the magic work, but it turns out that Ian has the gift.

Ian accidently activates the spell, but it is broken half way through, resulting in only the bottom half of their father coming back to life. In order to complete the spell, Ian and Barley have to undertake a journey to find another magic gem to complete the spell to bring their father all the way back before the end of the day.

The two brothers, who are about as different as two brothers can be, have to learn to work together to complete their magical quest and bring their father all the way back before time runs out. For Ian, this is a coming of age story. He has to learn to be braver and more assertive than he ever has been in order to complete the task. Barley, who seems to be kind of a slacker, turns out to be smarter, braver and more capable than he appears to be at first.

This story follows the standard Pixar playbook, with strong characters and a deft blend of humor, pathos and a strong moral message about empowerment, acceptance and trust of others. This story takes place in a world where magic was once common, but has since largely been replaced by technology. There is probably a message in that, too.

This movie also features the usual Pixar technical competence and some lovely animation. This is a fine family film, as one expects from Pixar-Disney. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright 2020 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]