‘Onward‘ is an urban fantasy animated film from Pixar Studios and Walt Disney Pictures. It is directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae, two well-known fixtures of Pixar.
In a world of mythical creatures, the elves, centaurs, cyclops, and other creatures use to practice magic, but after technology advances, the world becomes simpler and they have all, but forgotten it. An elf named Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) is turning sixteen. His older brother Barley (Chris Pratt) and mother Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) want to celebrate, but all Ian wants is to daydream about his long-dead father Wilden (Kyle Bornheimer) who died before Ian was born. His mother gives the siblings a wizard’s staff with a spell that could bring him back for twenty-four hours. However, something goes wrong with the spell and they are only able to summon his legs and torso. The two brothers sneak off on a “quest” to revive him with the help of a “Phoenix Stone.” Their mother, her centaur boyfriend Colt Bronco (Mel Rodriguez), and a manticore named Corey (Octavia Spencer) chase them so they do not accidentally unleash a curse in the process.
As usual, Pixar steps up on the CGI animation. Their animators are top-notch, doing an excellent job designing the characters, the backgrounds, and the effects. I especially enjoyed the music, done by Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna. They selected some great songs that matched the tone, theme, and scenes, adding to the movie’s enjoyment.
Also, the performances are epic. Tom Holland and Chris Pratt have incredible chemistry, coming off as real siblings as they traverse the plot. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is in her zone, playing a single mother who is raising her boys while dating a new man that is having trouble connecting with the two boys. Likewise, the rest of the cast is excellent, adding tremendously to the talent of the film.
The only issue I had with the movie is that it moves a bit fast. They use the manticore as a sort of link to the quest the brothers go on, but her character was somewhat unnecessary. I wish they would have edited out her appearances and used it to show a few more flashbacks with Barley and Wilden.
Outside of that, I truly enjoyed this movie. Not since Tarzan and Treasure Planet, has Disney produced a film for a primarily young male audience. Obviously, Pixar was the main driving force behind this film. That could be the explanation. They seem to care more about developing a good story and know how to implement it. This was very refreshing to see a movie where teenage boys were not the epitome of arrogance or toxicity. Instead, we meet two boys who are both genuinely kind and want nothing more than to be inspired by their father.
Barley and Ian have excellent story-arcs. It was cool to see their relationship grow as they traveled with their father. What is more excellent to see is the sacrifice they make for each other. Barley longs to be magical, but when it becomes clear that Ian has the gift, he trains him without hesitation. Ian just wants to meet his father, who died when he was baby but agrees to make the quest Barley’s way, even if it could cost them time.
Each one longs to have a reconnection with their dad. Barley was very young when they lost him and only has four memories of their father, one of them very bad. He hopes to make that up. Ian has none and wishes to make a few just for one night, even writing them down. How they portray the importance of both fatherhood and brotherhood hit a high mark and like I said earlier, it is sad to say it is a rarity these days,
Bottom line, Onward may feel a bit rushed at times, but it is a charming tale with stellar animation, excellent voice acting, and a story about two boys who want to meet their father, even for a moment.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Cartoon mischief, Fantasy violence, Rude humor
FAVORITE QUOTE: Long ago, the world was full of wonder. It was adventurous. It was exciting. And most of all, there was magic.
Check out the trailer below:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my movie reviews of Missing Link and My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.