To start off, Disney/Pixar’s newest adventure Onward might just have become one of my favorite Disney movies in recent times. I absolutely loved it.
Onward is a buddying fantasy adventure film that follows two brothers Barley (Chris Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy) and Ian (Tom Holland- Spider-Man Homecoming and Far From Home) as they journey to find a Phoenix Gem to complete a spell to bring back their long deceased dad for one full day. It’s basically a giant animated Dungeons & Dragons quest portrayed on the big screen. D&D even got a surprise shout out in the credits. The Lightfoot brothers face fire breathing creatures, two car chases, a dragon fight, and other threats along the way.
I laughed. I cried. I laughed again. By the end of the movie, I left the theater with a giant smile on my face, something that hasn’t happened in quite a while. I truly believe part of this is because of the awesome performances done by leads Chris Pratt and Tom Holland whose chemistry is apparent even in an animated capacity. The two played the roles of brothers perfectly and I would love to be a third sibling in that dynamic. Pratt’s is just as charming in his role as Barley as he is in the role of Starlord. Barley’s exuberant, role-playing aficionado plays off Holland’s Peter Parker-esque (earnest, nerdy, shy) Ian perfectly. Throw in Octavia Spenser as the ruthless quest-starting Manticore gone novelty restaurant owner and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the boy’s comedic yet protective mother and you have a winning supporting cast, as well.
Onward is a heartfelt adventure film with a fairly straightforward plot. However, like Coco, makes ideals like death and loss of a loved one accessible for younger audiences. Onward also builds upon the idea of a strong sibling relationship like in Frozen, but focuses on a brotherly relationship versus the sisterly one that we as an audience is more familiar with. I think this is why this movie resonated so well with me personally. While my father hasn’t passed away like in the father in the film, he was never around. Because of this, my brother and I grew up extremely close. While it could be argued that Onward isn’t AS tear-jerking as other Pixar projects like Coco and Up, it definitely brought tears to my eyes. I don’t think there isn’t anybody alive that wouldn’t do anything to spend one more day with a loved one who has passed. Even going on a dangerous, life-threatening quest is something that I would consider.
I would still consider Onward to be a film that would be entertaining for the entire family, however, I can see where this movie i could be geared towards more of a young male/boy audience. There are dragons, trolls, elves, scorpion-bear like creatures, lots of swords, battles, fires, explosions, pixies and other fantasy elements rampant through every scene. If you or your family members are into Dungeons & Dragons or other role-playing games, you will definitely enjoy this one.
As a side-bar comment for parents, there is a Simpsons animated short at the beginning of the film that follows Maggie going on a play-date. While there is no obscene language or overly crude images, there was still adult humor sprinkled in throughout. I found the short enjoyable, but I know growing up, my mom would have been extremely upset if there was a Simpsons short and she didn’t know about it. Just something to be aware of for those parents who are looking to take their kiddos to see the movie.