Pixar’s Onward is the first original Pixar movie since Coco and I had to pleasure of seeing an advanced screening of this a week before releasing. Onward was inspired by Dan Scanlon and his relationship with his brother and deceased father and this movie really feels like a personal movie that he really wanted to make and it pays off.
The heart of the movie is the relationship between the two brothers. Tom Holland is really good as Ian. He’s shy and not really social but he has a lot of charm. His goal of meeting his deceased Dad makes for a really good coming of age story. Chris Pratt is usually really fun in movies he’s in and his character Barley was really fun because of him. Both these characters have great chemistry and work off each other wonderfully. Sometimes I feel like I’m Barley and my brother is Ian. Pixar is known for making very imaginative worlds with great world building and Onward’s world is no exception. I like the idea that creatures started to make inventions in this magical world and then adapted into a more modern world. It’s like a Hobbit creating a toaster in Middle Earth, there’s something clever and funny to it.
A lot of the movie’s comedy stems from the world it takes place in. Some of the jokes and puns can be a hit or miss. Some are jokes that we’ve seen in other fantasy comedies but other jokes work like unicorns acting like raccoons. The jokes that involve the Dad’s legs are genuinely funny. I think my biggest problem with the movie is the unnecessary phoenix gem curse. It doesn’t seem important to the narrative and was clearly shoehorned in just so we’d have a climax where Ian’s highschool turns into a dragon (which is funny though). It does lead to a bittersweet ending where while Ian doesn’t get to see his dad he does accept Barley as his father figure since he was the one who did things Ian wanted to do this his dad.
Onward is not exactly the most groundbreaking or thought provoking of the Pixar canon but it is one of the more fun, magical and emotionally moving Pixar movies. It’s a personal story that this director really wanted to show and tell and I feel like it really payed off and he’s earned the praise this movie gets.
+ Chris Pratt as Barley
+ Fantasy world
+ Tom Holland as Ian
– Phoenix gem curse