Onward (2020)

onward poster 2020 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good cast, good looking

Rather typical and forgettable Pixar-Disney

Movie Info

Movie Name: Onward

Studio: Pixar Animation Studios

Genre(s): Animated/Comedy/Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Family

Release Date(s):  February 21, 2020 (Berlin International Film Festival)/March 6, 2020 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG

onward father van tom holland chris pratt

Just a couple kids, their half-dad, and their glorious van Guinevere

Magic is real (or at least it was according to legends) but now technology rules the world.  Ian Lightfoot is celebrating his sixteenth birthday and has been gifted with a magical staff from his deceased father that houses a rare Phoenix stone.  Ian and his older brother Barley discover that the stone is tied to a spell that could bring their father back for one day, and Ian realizes that it could be the opportunity to connect with him that he never had.  When the spell malfunctions and the Phoenix gem breaks, Ian and Barley find themselves off on a quest to restore their father before it is too late.

Directed by Dan Scanlon (who wrote the script with Jason Headley and Keith Bunin), Onward is a Disney-Pixar animated fantasy feature.  Following Toy Story 4 in 2019, the film was released at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and quickly premiered on Disney+.  The movie received mostly positive reviews and an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature.

Pixar makes quality films, but they are also films that leave me rather numb.  They are generally kind of predictable and attempt to use the story to take the viewers on an emotional rollercoaster that is often bigger than the picture itself.  Onward has all these pieces and while good is kind of forgettable.

onward biker fairies

Kids are never to young to learn not to f$!% with fairies

The story is a story about family and what makes a family.  Ian never connected with his father who died when he was young and his older goof-off brother who is more interested in fantasy and magic doesn’t even remember much about his father despite having more opportunities to know him.  This of course leads to a bonding adventure between the odd-ball brothers (and half a father) that reignites the idea of magic in the land and brings them closer together…forcing them to realize what is important.  It is what you’d expect with jokes where you’d expect them.  There is nothing wrong, but there is little notable about the film.

Like most Pixar and Disney films, the filmmakers went all out involving the cast.  Tom Holland and Chris Pratt play the brothers and their characters and voices are believable as family.  Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays the mother who finds herself on her own adventure with Octavia Spencer who plays the Manticore who has seen better days.  Tracey Ullman, Wilmer Valderrama, Mel Rodriguez, Ali Wong, and Pixar regular John Ratzenberger all provide voice work.  The film also received coverage for having the first openly lesbian Pixar-Disney character voiced by Lena Waithe (though the scene is brief and rather inconsequential to the plot).

onward dragon ending

How can a cute dragon like that be dangerous?

Pixar films never suffer from bad visuals.  Onward looks good and has some great animation.  I’m not crazy in general about the character designs for this film, but they too are rather unspectacular and average in a world of quasi-magic where literally anything could be possible.

Onward is a better than average animated movie, but it is also an animated movie that feels like it checks all the boxes for a Pixar film.  Its plot, cast, and look is just what you’d expect and in a year of COVID-19, that could be a nice comfort factor for some viewers.  If you are on the fence about some of Pixar’s movies, Onward won’t win you over.  Onward was followed by Soul (the superior movie) later in 2020.

Related Links:

The 93rd Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response