Sao Paulo went Onward at CCXP on Saturday as director Dan Scanlon of the forthcoming Pixar film featuring the voices of Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer took the dais at the pop culture confab. The animated pic may be set in a visually stunning fantasy world where unicorns roam the streets eating garbage like pesky raccoons, but for Scanlon, the film hits way close to home and if you have a heart, you’ll be be grabbing the tissues based on his story alone.
“This is a really personal film for me,” said Scanlon. “When I was a year old my father passed away — and my brother was three. We have no memory of him.”
Scanlon went on to say there wasn’t anything they could remember their father by because they were so young — until a relative sent them an audio recording with his voice. During the panel, Scanlon shared the soul-stirring recording which had his father saying “hi” and “goodbye”. It wasn’t much, but for Scanlon, it was more than enough. “To us, it was magical,” he said. “It was amazing to hear his voice.”
Six years in the making, Onward — which is titled Dois Irmanos: Uma Jornada Fantastica (Two Brothers: A Fantastic Journey) in Brazil — was a way to share his story, a way to find out more about and pay tribute to his father. And based on the heart and soul Scanlon put into this, it will be on-brand for Pixar and will guarantee buckets of tears.
In the film, Holland and Pratt star as Ian and Barley Lightfoot, teenage elf brothers in a suburban fantasy world filled with gnomes, trolls, mermaids and centaurs. On Ian’s 16th birthday, their mom (Louis-Dreyfus) gives him a gift from the boys’ late father, who the family believes was an “accountant.” But the present is a wizard staff — turns out Pops was a wizard, and the staff comes with a spell that could bring him back for a day. One problem: The revival goes awry, and the family is left with dad from the waist down only. From here, they go on an adventure to complete the spell and bring back the other half of their father — and they only have 24 hours. During their quest, they encounter snarling unicorns, cops and a gang of tiny biker pixies who go from trashing a convenience store to giving chase.
Scanlon shared a clip from the film including an emotional scene where their mother gives them the wizard staff and the brothers are reunited with one-half of their father. He also shared an action-packed clip where the brothers encounter the biker pixies as well as one where Ian and Barley use the staff to cast a spell to get themselves out of a sticky situation.
Onward opens in theaters March 6, 2020.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.