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Disney-Pixar's Onward and 5 classic films about brotherly love

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There's nothing like brotherly love, and Disney Pixar's latest animated adventure Onward arrives in March to prove it.

Brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot, voiced by Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) alumni Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, embark on a fantastical quest to discover if magic still exists. They’re trying to bring their late father, whom neither knew, back to life… but mistakenly they only manage to resurrect the lower half of his body – in other words, a pair of sentient trousers.

Before setting off on this mystical adventure with the brothers Lightfoot, we’re taking a look back at some of film's best brothers...

1. Sonny and Michael Corleone, The Godfather (1972)

Widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 mafia masterpiece focuses on the Corleone family, as ageing patriarch Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) transfers control of his empire over to reluctant son Michael (Al Pacino).

One of the most interesting relationships in the film, however, is that between Michael and his older brother Sonny (James Caan). We could have gone for Michael’s relationship with his weak-willed older sibling Fredo (John Cazale), which takes a tragic turn in The Godfather: Part II. But the Michael-Sonny duo deserves more attention.

Like many of the most memorable film siblings, Michael and Sonny are almost complete opposites – however they also complement each other in ways that makes their dynamic particularly interesting. Michael is slightly more concerned with outward appearances, preferring to conduct business in a way which appears civilized, while of course working on cunning ways in which to dispatch those who cross him. Sonny on the other hand is more hot-headed, preferring to respond to threats immediately and with aggression.



2. Gilbert and Arnie Grape, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

Leonardo DiCaprio may now be a household name, but back in 1993, he was still an unknown. That all changed, however, with his performance in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. At the tender age of 19, DiCaprio stunned in one of his first major film roles, and even picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

As we know, he had to wait another 22 years before he finally won, but DiCaprio’s performance as Arnie Grape remains one of the finest of his career. The film focuses on Gilbert (Johnny Depp) as he cares for his mentally disabled younger brother Arnie, and his morbidly obese mother, whilst still trying to find love and his own happiness.

In the absence of a father, Arnie is almost completely dependent on his older brother and idolises him completely. Their relationship isn’t always easy, but it is ultimately very touching, and the great performances from Depp and DiCaprio completely sell it with warm authenticity.


3. Brennan Huff and Dale Doback, Step Brothers (2008)

They may only be step brothers, but there is no denying the deep fraternal bonds between Brennan (Will Ferrell) and Dale (John C. Reilly). Frequent co-stars, Ferrell and Reilly have an unbeatable screen dynamic that means they were simply made to play (sort of) brothers.

Forced to become roommates when their parents marry, middle-aged man-babies Brennan and Dale are initially sceptical of one other, but they soon become the best of friends when they realise they have more in common than they realised. Their childish antics are consistently hilarious, and the support and love they show for each other is actually quite touching in the end.

4. Thor and Loki, from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2011 - onwards)

While their dynamic zig-zags from affection to murderous rivalry and back again, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) are still one of the most memorable movie sibling pairings. Thor is strong, mighty and undoubtedly his father Odin’s (Anthony Hopkins) favourite – however, his arrogance is something that frequently gets him in trouble, and this is something which Loki uses to his advantage.

Of course, Loki is the God of Mischief so his schemes are not usually to be trusted, but he has plenty of tricks up his sleeve to ensure he gets his own way. From the first Thor film in 2011, right through to Avengers: Infinity War in 2018, Thor and Loki have bickered and brawled like the best of them, but they have also shown that brotherly love and loyalty can sometimes overcome the starkest differences. What one may lack in brawn, the other has in brains and vice versa, meaning they are the perfect pair.


5. Conor and Brendan, Sing Street (2016)

Sing Street is an underrated musical gem from 2016, focusing on Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who seeks escape from his strained family life by forming a band to impress the girl he likes. While the film’s original songs are amazing, and the love story very sweet, it is really the relationship between the main character and his older brother Brendan (Jack Reynor) that is the heart of this film.

Conor completely idolises Brendan, and particularly seeks his advice when it comes to music. In many ways, Brendan also lives vicariously through his younger brother, pushing him to be the success that he couldn’t be. In one particularly touching scene towards the end of the film, Brendan admits how hard things were before Conor came along and he channels what could possible resentment into admiration and support for his younger brother.

Reynor’s performance is particularly memorable, and while there are many highlights, the brotherly relationship is what makes the film so wonderful.

Onward is released in Cineworld cinemas on the 6th of March. Tweet us your favourite brotherly love movies @Cineworld.

Sarah Buddery is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team. Follow her on Twitter.

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