Disney and Pixar have a history of churning out movies that show emotion and evoke feelings of familial bonding and adventure. With their newest movie, “Onward”, they keep up that tradition and have delivered yet another heartfelt movie that can be enjoyed by all ages.
“Onward” takes place in a mystical world full of fantastical creatures where magic used to be common. In the present day, however, people have forgotten magic and opted for comfort in the form of technology. The viewer is shown some examples of this in the form of centaurs driving cars, mermaids lounging in kiddie pools and winged sprites boarding an airplane.
The main focus of the film is Ian Lightfoot (played by Tom Holland), a scrawny nervous elf who just turned sixteen, and his larger, more adventurous brother, Barley (played by Chris Pratt).
The first part of the film takes the viewer through a day in the life of Ian and they are shown how he tries to rebrand himself to better fit in at school.
Upon returning home from school, after failing in this feat, their mother Laurel (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) explains that their deceased father had left a gift for Ian and Barley once they both became sixteen. It is then revealed that their father practiced magic and left them a staff and a spell to bring him back for one day. Barley tries and fails multiple times to bring back his father and eventually gives up. It is when Ian tries to recite the spell that it starts to work. Before completion, the gem powering the spell breaks and the brothers are left with a pair of legs belonging to their father.
From there on, the movie turns into a standard road trip film with the usual occurrence of having the two brothers bond as they travel from place to place on their journey onward to find another gem and finish the spell before sunset the next day. Ian becomes more confident in himself and is able to overcome the problems he had with rebranding himself while becoming more capable with magic, thanks to Barley’s support and aid. Alongside the A plot, there is also a B plot involving their mother and a manticore (played by Octavia Spencer) trying to track the brothers down and prevent them from unleashing a curse by taking the second gem. This plot does not get very much screen time but adds more humor with how Laurel tries to be reasonable and think things through and the manticore does things her own way. It also gives more personality to these characters for what time they are given rather than having them just be side characters with very little attention given. Eventually, the two plots merge in a satisfying and logical way to aid the plot.
“Onward’s” main theme is to appreciate one’s family and to cherish the time you have with them. This is showcased in the form of the Lightfoots’ longing to have a chance to be with their father again after being without him most of their lives. It is this goal that drives the main character’s motivations to find the gem. Throughout the film, there is also a strong feeling of the two brothers becoming closer than they were before as they help each other during their quest. Barley supports Ian’s growth in magic usage and Ian trusts Barley’s judgement and realizes that he was there for him throughout his life to guide him. In the end, Ian realizes that even though he grew up without his father in his life, he had Barley there to lean on for support. These themes will make the viewer appreciate their family a bit more and hopefully not take things for granted.
Overall, “Onward” is a decent film that will make the viewer appreciate their family more. There are certain aspects of it that seem to be very common among other Disney and Pixar films such as a dead parent, a road trip and family bonding but that does not stop “Onward” from getting its message to the viewer. If you want a good animated road trip film to make you appreciate what you have, “Onward” will get the job done. I rate “Onward” an 8/10.