Onward's Grecklin: A Chaos Icon

Grecklin, a serpentine gremlin who runs a pawn shop in the latest Pixar movie Onward, is a light in dark times. At least for me, she is. I haven’t seen anything in recent memory that has tickled me as much as her brief appearance in the film, which hit Disney+ on Friday, in a fast-track theater-to-streaming movie since cinemas are closed. (I use the words “recent memory” as if I have a sense of what qualifies as “recent” or “memory” anymore. I do not. These words are just approximations.)


The appeal of Grecklin, who was voiced by Tracey Ullman, is simple: She says things and then laughs incoherently, feverishly even, at herself.

She runs a pawn shop, wears a tracksuit with pearls, and looks like she smokes Virginia Slims. She reminds me of an Amy Sedaris character. Or maybe just Amy Sedaris, period. She is a capitalist who price-gouges. I would hate to encounter her in real life, but love to watch her from afar.

I also loved the butch, belligerent sprite who led a motorcycle gang of her kind:

I relate—I’m short-fused, too. We’re all having a hard time right now.

Overall, I thought Onward was another solid Pixar entry—it concerns an elf Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) who, on his 16th birthday, is gifted a magical staff his dead father left for him. The staff comes with a spell to conjure his father back for a day, but a technical error during the spell brings his father only halfway back. He’s a pair of legs without a body. Weekend at Bernie’s-type hijinks ensue as Ian and his older brother Barley (Chris Pratt) set out to find a gem that will allow them to complete the spell while babysitting their father’s moving legs. Besides the Bernie’s vibes, I detected a bunch of ’80s homage including the suburban adventuring of The Goonies. That was comforting. In general, Onward received good reviews upon its theatrical release, which seems like it was thousands of years ago but actually was just a month ago, but they weren’t quite as rapturous as they have been for some of Pixar’s offerings. Onward is sort of slight and goofy, but with a very big heart and a final resolution that I thought was genuinely moving. I don’t know, it’s a weird time to be feeling anything right now, but the sweetness of this movie was a salve to me. Maybe it will be for you, too.

Some Pig. Terrific. Radiant. Humble.



i was p bored throughout. there were some funny moments but lately it’s seemed like pixar’s goal is to hit everyone in the feels instead of make a fun movie. the internet wept over the intro to up and they were like “oh you liked that? we can beat that” and it really seems like they lost their whimsy.