Starring the voices of Chris Pratt, Tom Holland, Octavia Spencer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Directed by Dan Scanlon
Pixar’s first “modern suburban fantasy” is part treasure-hunting send-up, part road comedy, part mismatched buddy caper, and a total blast.
Marvel Cinematic Universe alums Chris Pratt and Tom Holland are endearing as elfin siblings trying to resurrect their dead father using a 24-hour magic spell. Alas, they botch the ritual and only his lower half is materialised.
To complete the incantation, the brothers leave their hometown of New Mushroomton — a Springfield redux by way of the Shire — in a beat-up van to recover the Phoenix Gem.
Along the way, they encounter assorted colourful characters (Octavia Spencer as a frustrated Manticore, a lion-meets-bat-scorpion hybrid creature), thrilling pursuits (a vehicular pursuit involving angry fairies), and booby traps (there’s one lifted from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).
The movie is fun and gorgeous to look at (check out those clouds — simply mesmerising), but if you know Pixar, these guys aren’t just eye-candy makers, they’re also ninja warriors who know how to hit your tear ducts when you least expected.
Beneath the fantastical elements is a heartwarming tale of love and grief and a cracking satire bemoaning how technology has robbed life of awe and magic. (***1/2)