Disney/Pixar’s new animated film is strange, magical and filled with heart.
It’s set in a village that had once been a dangerous place to live. Fiery Dragons, evil warriors, and fighting were a daily event. Its now a town were these same characters go to work, their kids attend school and the dragons are frisky, likable pets (although they are now much smaller of course).
Two elf brothers, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) live with their widowed mother (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a hip, happy woman who’s engaged to the local policeman, who’s a friendly centaur.
Ian is turning 16 and he’s been dreaming about his father who died when he was a baby. He misses getting to know him and doing things that fathers and sons do. When his mom gives him a magical scepter that his father left for him until he became of age, he realizes he could use it to bring back his dad for one day.
What Ian lacks in courage, he makes up in passion. The mission to have one last day with his father is encouraged by Barley, who is a risk-taker and a devout Dungeons and Dragons fanatic. They have one try to retrieve their father, but something goes wrong and only the bottom half of dad is visible. He has khaki pants, loafers, and a glowing light above his belt where the rest of his body should be. Its quite an eerie sight.
The two boys take off in Barley’s rundown van to replace a magical stone. In order to make their dad more presentable, they fashion a torso and head by using old clothes, a hat and sunglasses and drag him along with a dog leash. He appears wobbly and drunk and it looks like a scene out of Weekends At Bernie’s. It’s all a bit unnerving.
The adventure they embark on is filled with nasty pixies on motorcycles, a Manticore (Olivia Spencer) who owns a burger joint and a fire breathing dragon. But, the best part of their journey is that along the way, the brothers become closer. Ian finding out that his goofy brother might be someone he’d like to know better and Barley realizing that his little brother is someone he could be friends with,
Director and co-writer Dan Scanlon (Monsters University) delivers a fantasy/adventure that is exciting, clever, and fun. It’s also very moving and the family dynamic is what saves this film for me.