Wait just a second! When I was talking about Soul a few days ago, didn’t I say that I was tired of Pixar's “you should accept death” message? And here I am celebrating even more so a Pixar movie about accepting death that came out before that one! What can I say? This movie ends on a really sad moment, but until that moment, it’s much cheerier than Inside Out and Coco, which to me made its bittersweet ending much more powerful.
I have a long and rich history of populating these lists with popular releases that fared poorly on other top ten lists. I think I can safely say that this movie, which every critic saw, did not end up on a single year end list, and certainly not in the number one position. But ultimately this movie is here for the same reason that Nomadland isn’t: I’ve callused up a lot of thick skin over the years and I want a movie that can cut through it. Nomadland made me smile a few times and tugged my heart strings a few times, but there were no audible chuckles or actual tears. Now, if you want a movie that actually did make me laugh out loud, and then left me bawling like a baby (all three times I’ve seen it) you need look no farther than Onward. I’m starting to tear up just typing these words: When our hero realizes his brother has been a good surrogate dad to him, it hits me like a brick.
Storyteller’s Rulebook: Anthropomorphize Their Favorite Object, then Force Them to Kill It
When I was writing about “Little Women”, I noted that Alcott mentions in the first ten pages how proud Jo was of her beautiful hair and realized that was said just to make it more painful later when she decides to cut her hair off later to sell it for a needed trip. Now I of course notice this everywhere, and Onward is certainly a big example. This is even more true is you anthropomorphize the object. If they give the character’s van a name, that means it’s going to get sacrificed.