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Pixar's Onward might be the studio's saddest tearjerker of a film yet

By Jacob Oller
Onward Pixar

While film fans are reeling from Toy Story 4, Pixar’s latest assault on their heartstrings, the dominant force in tearjerking animation has been quietly putting out more details about its upcoming original film Onward. And the new details definitely don’t make the fantasy-set story of family and magic seem like a dry-eyed time at the movies.

While not much is known yet about Onward, Chris Pratt and Tom Holland star in the film (which fans can find a teaser of below), as elf brothers going on a road trip errand that's quite out of the ordinary.

This brotherly tale comes from a very personal place for director and co-writer Dan Scanlon (Monsters University), according to an interview he did with TotalFilm. Not only is this tale of suburban fantasy creatures a love letter to the Midwest — ”I grew up in the suburbs of Michigan and the Midwest...I have a lot of love for the area” — all that plaid and homegrown kindness is in service of a heartbreaking true story. 

Scanlon’s father died when he was only a year old, leaving him and his brother with a recording of him saying just two words: “Hi” and “Bye.” If you think it’s just a coincidence that Julia Louis-Dreyfus voices the elvish mother while the father is absent, you haven’t been paying attention to the Pixar game plan.

“That just felt like a story that was a big part of my life that I wanted to dive into,” said Scanlon. His real-life father was a “kind of mythic and almost magical” person, so why not make these elvish brothers search for some actual magic. In fact...they seem like they might even be looking for a father figure themselves. This film is something for “people when they think about their family history, or mysteries that they may have in their life,” the director explained. And boy, did it get dusty in here?

Onward breaks our hearts on March 6, 2020.

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