NEW MUSHROOMTON—Two teenage boys were spotted earlier today loading the lower half of a body into the back of a navy-blue van. The vehicle—which witnesses say bore the personalized license plate GWNIVER and featured airbrushed images of a white pegasus on both its driver- and passenger-side exteriors—was last seen leaving New Mushroomton at dusk. Additional reports have placed a similar van at a waterfront near the bridge overpass.
No, it’s not a gruesome news report, just details we gleaned from the new trailer for Onward, Pixar’s new suburban fantasy-adventure-comedy movie. The trailer, which dropped on Thursday, provides much more adorable context for the sibling road trip taken by elves Ian and Barley Lightfoot (voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, respectively).
The new computer-animated feature will draw comparisons to Netflix’s 2017 live-action urban fantasy Bright, i.e., the one where Will Smith is buddy cops with an orc. (God, will Will Smith ever be in a good action movie again?) But Onward seems to be having more fun with its high-concept premise, at least in this trailer and the funny teaser that preceded it.
The film is the first original feature-length picture to be helmed by longtime Disney-Pixar storyboard artist Dan Scanlon—last seen writing and directing the prequel to Monsters Inc., Monsters University, in 2013—and it’s something of a personal project despite the breezy comedic trappings. The story follows the Lightfoot brothers after their mother (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) presents them with a magic wand left by their deceased father, which will permit them to bring him back to life for one (highly emotional and cathartic) 24-hour period. As you can see from the trailer, it doesn’t go exactly as planned.
As Scanlon told an audience at Disney’s D23 fan expo back in 2017, the film was inspired by a moment from his own teen years when he and his brother heard a recording of their deceased father for the first time. “When I was a year old, my father passed away,” Scanlon told expo attendees, before actually playing the cassette onstage. “I don’t remember him and neither does my brother, who was 3 at the time.” The tape, which is not especially long, raised more questions for him as a young adult than answers.
“I have always wondered who my father was,” Scanlon explained. “And that question became the blueprint for this movie.”
In a tweet last December, Chris Pratt, late of a genetically engineered dinosaur movie franchise and a social media–savvy evangelical church in Los Angeles, reports that he cried during the pitch meeting for this film at Pixar’s offices.
So, bring tissues when Onward debuts on March 6.