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ONWARD (Keine halben Sachen)
by Becky Tan

Dan Scanlon, USA

Disney/Pixar still has fun ideas, as we witness in this animated film about brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot, who live with their widowed mother and the family pet – a small dragon – in New Mushroomton. Ian, the younger of the two, is shy, speaks rarely at high school and has no friends. It’s his 16th birthday – a good opportunity to change this situation by inviting classmates to a party. Naturally, the idea fails to develop, partly due to the rowdy behavior of Ian’s older brother Barley, who is not only wildly outgoing, but also much fatter than Ian. There is, however, a birthday surprise: a present from their deceased father, which mother Laurel has been saving all these years. It’s a wizard’s stick with which Ian can make magic. His first trick is an attempt to bring their father back to life for 24 hours. It only partly works, literally; Ian brings Father back to life, but only from the waist down. Ian and Barley take off in Barley’s van to find a new Phoenix gem, which is necessary to complete Father’s transition. This takes them to the Manticore Tavern and then down the Path of Peril and, “onward” to Raven’s Point. Laurel is worried and jumps into her car to find the “lost” boys.

Director Dan Scanlon and his talented team bring us wonderful, colorful, animated, very humorous figures of different species. Ian and his family are elves. Policeman Colt Bronco is half human, half horse. There are small bee-like characters who ride motorcycles. Some are monster-like, including Manticore, who runs the tavern. There are scary and dangerous moments, which always keep our attention, such as walking on thin air across a mountainous chasm. Although their world is fantasy, it is modern fantasy, with electric lights, mobile phones, and crowded highways. Naturally, there is a moral to the story, emphasizing loyalty and support, going “onward” both literally and figuratively. Probably, the film will be available for children six years and older. It is perfect for the whole family, including teenagers, considering that Ian is 16 and his brother about 18.