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Tom Holland and Chris Pratt in Onward

One of the strengths that Pixar has shown over the last several years of producing feature films has been in the area of casting. The studio has been able to work with some amazing talents who have brought animated characters to life in films like the Toy Story series, Monsters Inc., and more. Now, Pixar's next feature, Onward brings together a pair of actors who have already spent some time together on screen, Tom Holland and Chris Pratt.

The two actors are major parts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Tom Holland as Spider-Man, and Chris Pratt playing Star-Lord, but during an Early Media Day at Pixar Animation Studios last year I was able to attend a press conference with Onward director Dan Scanlon and producer, Kori Rae, where Scanlon said that the pair's connection to the MCU was purely coincidental, though it did help the production ...

Everyone was saying Star-Lord and Spider-Man we really didn’t give that a lot of thought. It really was just that Chris embodied the chaotic, wild part of Barley and also that he has a charm that allows him to get away with being a little annoying, which he has to be at times. And he has that big brother quality. It does help that they do know each other and that Chris is a little bit like a big brother to Tom in their relationship I think helped a lot.

In Onward, Chris Pratt plays Barley, the older brother to Tom Holland's Ian. He's loud and brash and, as Dan Scanlon says, chaotic. He's basically everything that his little brother is not. Considering the sorts of roles that Chris Pratt has played over the years, it makes perfect sense why he would become Barley, Pratt's characters frequently have no shortage of confidence, even when sometimes that confidence is far from justified.

On the flip side, the younger brother Ian is perpetually nervous. He has basically no confidence of his own. Tom Holland's turn as Peter Parker may have helped him land the role here, as that character is always worried about doing the right thing, and Ian is as well. Producer Kori Rae explained during the press conference that Holland's range was what made him perfect for the role.

He had the right amount of nervousness and shyness and yet is such a great actor that he can really do the emotional scenes. We needed actors who could both do comedy as well as we just knew that there was a lot of emotion and a lot of real emotional scenes in the film.

Onward follows a pair of brothers, Ian and Barley, as they quest to complete a magic spell that has only partially brought their father back from the dead. Ian's father died when he was but a baby, so he has no memory of the man, thus the importance of this spell. The setup mirrors the life of Dan Scanlon's own upbringing, making the story particularly poignant. It's not surprising that the role required some major emotional moments from Tom Holland. This is Pixar, after all.

The story is told in a world of fantasy creatures, but it's also very modern, so concepts like magic have been lost to time and don't work very well.There's plenty of humor to b mixed in with the emotion, and based on the portion of the film I was able to see while visiting Pixar last year, the audience will likely be feeling the emotion by the end of Onward as well.