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Onward to the Movies

Onward

As I was leaving the movie theater after seeing Pixar’s new movie ”Onward”, I realized something. As of this November, Pixar’s been making movies for 25 years! My mind was blown, but that didn’t stop me from trying to review Onward as fairly as possible.

Taking place in a world populated by magical creatures, the world of Onward was once filled with magic-wielders. Then came the conveniences of modern-life, so people stopped using magic. All that changes, though, when a young elf named Ian Lightfoot receives an old wizard’s staff as a gift from his late father. Using the magic of the staff, Ian tries to bring his dad back for a day so he can finally meet him. When the spell’s incomplete, though, Ian and his boisterous older brother Barley set out on a quest to finish the spell so they can see their dad again.

Chris and Tom are Awesome

Onward stars Tom Holland and Chris Pratt
Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) are two brothers on an epic quest trying to bring their dad back. A quest taking them to a family restaurant

The heart and soul of the film come from the Lightfoot brothers, Ian and Barley. The two are almost polar-opposites in terms of personality, so the two have a good dynamic throughout the film. Ian’s soft-spoken, shy, and insecure about himself, whereas Barley’s loud, boisterous, and charges headlong without thinking things through.

It helps that Ian and Barley are played by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, respectively. Considering how they worked together in the MCU, it makes sense that they know how to play off each other’s strengths. Tom brings his eager youthfulness as Ian, while Chris lets his most bombastic characteristics shine. They balance each other out, and their relationship drives the film to its climax.

A Story about Familial Bonds

While the trailers for the film make it seem like Onward is about Ian bonding with the dad he never knew, that’s a little misleading. The real story is about the bond between Ian and Barley and how much sibling relationships can mean for a person’s development. According to director Dan Scanlon, Onward was inspired by the fact that his own dad died when he was a baby, so he never knew him. Yet his older brother always remained supportive of him growing up, encouraging his talents and showing off what he could do.

Then one day, he was talking with a friend at Pixar, and she dropped a huge bombshell about why he never missed his dad: because his brother had been his father figure. And like Dan, Ian undergoes that same realization near the end of the film. It’s a real emotional message on how much the bonds we make growing up can make us into the people we become, and Ian becomes a better person as a result. He becomes much more confident in himself, outgoing, and his bond with Barley becomes stronger than ever.

The Good Old Pixar Formula

I’ve seen enough Pixar films to know that there’s a standard formula to them. The film starts off with some sort of conflict occurring, and the protagonist has to resolve said conflict. So they have to go on some sort of journey that changes them or the people around them as people. Then there comes the moment where they hit rock bottom and we all cry. From there, the hero gains a new will to move onward, and they resolve the conflict.

I’m pleased to say that Onward manages to follow this formula to a tee. While that would normally be a problem, it actually isn’t in this case. Pixar’s been the media giant it’s been for the last twenty-five years because of that winning formula. It works to the point where even their less-than-desirable films do well in the box office.

That said, I can’t help but feel that the Pixar Formula’s getting a little stale. Maybe Onward is a sign that they should consider mixing it up a little in the future to stay fresh. Or don’t; what do I know?

A Fun Time at the Movies

So, Onward is a good film. It’s got a solid story and great casting behind it, and the inspiration tugs at one’s heartstrings. That said, it doesn’t seem to have the same spark that all the classic Pixar films have. It’s a great movie, but I wouldn’t put it in my top five films that Pixar’s done.

If you’re a fan of any of the following though:

  • Dungeons and Dragons
  • Pixar
  • Mystical Creatures
  • Chris Pratt
  • Tom Holland

Then I’d recommend you go see. It’s a nice testament to the power of brotherly love and has some pretty funny moments to it.

I Give “Onward” A 3.5/5

Click here to see my reviews for various films.

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