Onward Review

Cast: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer

Director: Dan Scanlon


We all know at some point the Pixar train will come to a dead end, but that day isn’t today.  Once again they’ve managed to come up with a modern animated masterpiece that captures the soul of its subject while still captivating audiences of all ages.  Onward just feels like a natural progression for Pixar when you take into consideration the direction they’ve gone over the decades.  When you think of what this generation of young viewers will look back on as they enter the next stages of their lives, those who watched Onward will remember it fondly and look back at potentially one of the best animated movies of their childhood.

The film follows Ian Lightfoot (voiced by Holland), a teenage elf who just turned 16.  When it is revealed that Ian’s deceased father was a wizard who knew a spell to bring himself back to life for 24 hours, Ian attempts to cast this spell, but only brings back his father from the waist down.  Wanting to finish the spell and finally meet his father, Ian and his brother Barley (voiced by Pratt) go on a quest to find the resources to spend their limited time with their father.  Like all the other Pixar movies, Onward will strike a chord with a certain portion of the population.  I’m not a part of that group, but even if you have a modicum of empathy, you will know why this movie is so powerful.  It’s a plot built on a foundation of both insecurity and love while showing us that both of those sides are inherently imperfect.  We have our flaws and the things that make us human, and through the anthropomorphizing of these feelings, the movie makes them more accessible to younger audiences.  On top of that, Pratt and Holland have a level of chemistry that feels almost like they are real brothers.  They know their roles so incredibly well and understand how each of their parts is fundamental to the overall success of the movie.  They fight like siblings, they share like siblings, and to some degree this is one of the stronger representations of brothers from this age range in any format.   Finally, it wouldn’t be Pixar if it didn’t have some of the best animation of the year.  The color scheme is predominantly blue, but the array of blues that they use and the potential symbolism that each blue represents is brilliant.  The movie goes from one scene where rivers are prominent and the ocean blues are at the front of our screen, to the next scene at night where midnight blue is the color of choice, and while blue is the main color on display, the whole rainbow is seen in this way at one point or another.  Pixar has come a long way since Toy Story in terms of animation technique, and Onward is another example of them truly having the best that Disney has to offer.  It’ll make you laugh, cry, and captivate you for all of its 102 minute runtime.

Overall, it’s hard to rank where Onward ends up in the final Pixar rankings, but for one of their originals, it has to be one of their best in the past ten years.  It really is Pixar at its best.  A simple concept wrapped up in a unique setting that makes everyone feel something real in the pit of their souls, Onward is a perfect movie to get through a quarantine and is something the whole family can enjoy.  Pixar movies are usually a very safe choice for anyone, and that continues to be the trend with Onward.

Overall Score: 8.5/10

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