Release Date: March 6, 2020
Director: Dan Scanlon
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures | Pixar Animation Studios
I was looking forward to seeing this movie when it came out last month, but suddenly we weren’t allowed to go out to the movies. Thankfully, the Disney company decided to release it to Disney+ this weekend.
Onward is set in alternate universe of mythical creatures – elves, centaurs, unicorns, cyclops, pixies, fauns, and the like – where long ago beings determined that technology was easier than magic and settled into a quotidian suburban lifestyle. Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) is an elf celebrating his 16th birthday. He never knew his father, Wilden (Kyle Bornheimer), who died of an illness just before he was born and has been raised by his mother, Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and his older brother, Barley (Chris Pratt). Barley is an enthusiast for Dungeons & Dragons role-playing games which he believes are based on factual historic records.
Laurel presents the boys with a gift from their father that she’s held until they were both 16. It is a magic staff with a gem and a spell that will bring Wilden back for one day so he can see his sons. While trying to cast the spell, Ian gets distracted and is only able to generate his father’s legs before the gem disintegrates. Barley determines that they must perform a quest to find another gem before the 24 hours expire.
I won’t go into the details and be all spoilery for a brand-new movie, but Ian and Barley indeed go on their quest. As should be expected from a Pixar movie there are many clever gags drawn from mythical creatures, and the ultimate point of this journey is that Ian and Barley will discover more about themselves and one another. And, of course, there are heartrending moments of familial love, so be prepared to weep.
Title: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
Release Date: October 5, 1949
Director: Jack Kinney, Clyde Geronimi, and James Algar
Production Company: Walt Disney Productions
This is the last of Disney’s package films of the 1940s, framed as stories about great characters, one from England and one from the USA. Basil Rathbone narrates the story of Mr. Toad from Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, and Bing Crosby narrates (and sings) the story of Ichabod Crane from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” I remember watching this as a kid and being annoyed that it deviated so much from the sources. As an adult, I’m more forgiving. This will never be one of Disney’s all-time greats, but it has a sort of 1940s charm that makes it amusing diversion. Both segments do some interesting things with flexible and comic animated horse characters. And of course the Mr. Toad segment gave us the greatest dark ride in Disney theme park history.
Hit Parade :: La Vida Loca Edición
A history of Spanish-language hit songs on the Billboard Top 100 from the 1960s to the present with a special emphasis on Latin crossover artists Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, and Shakira.
Memory Palace :: Stories to Wash Hands By
Twenty stories of historical events that last twenty seconds each, the perfect length of time to wash your hands. Whether or not this is practical (I mean if you push play on your device before your hands are clean it will be contaminated, no) the stories are all very interesting tidbits of history.
Radiolab :: Every Day is Ignaz Semmelweis Day
The story of the Viennese doctor who determined that medical professionals should wash their hands to prevent the spread of deadly infections long before germ theory was even understood.
Sidedoor :: The Milkmaid Spy
The mindblowing adventures of Virginia Hall who worked as a spy in occupied France during World War II, helping establish resistance networks.
60 Second Science :: Bird Fossil Shared Earth with T. rex
Scientists discover evidence of the earliest modern bird, the Wonderchicken.
Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Appearances in 2020