Onward is the 22nd film from Pixar Animation Studios, and aside from one or two missteps, they’ve had a pretty solid track record. I was looking forward to this film based off of the cast alone, but the premise was intriguing and just seemed fun. It’s also the last film I saw in a movie theater before self-quarantining. I am happy to say that Pixar still has it, but let’s get into it.
Starting with what I liked, Tom Holland and Chris Pratt give great, emotional performances as brothers Ian and Barley. I’m a big fan of them both, and luckily it doesn’t sound like they phoned it in. I also liked Octavia Spencer as The Manticore, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus is always fun, but she isn’t given much to do as Ian and Barley’s mother. The movie is also quite funny. I found myself laughing through a lot of the it. I enjoyed the comparison of magic to modern technology, and how people just saw magic as old-fashioned. Just like classic Pixar, it gets emotional. Although it is about Ian and Barley trying to connect to their father while they can, it is more so about the relationship between brothers. How they are different, but still relate to each other, and how they can fight but still stick together. The movie also picks up the pace quickly, I never found myself feeling bored. It does a great job being entertaining for both kids and adults alike. Of course the animation is fantastic, as expected from Pixar.
If there are some things I wasn’t particularly fond of, let’s start with the fact that this is far from the most creative world Pixar has tackled. We’ve seen many films explore a fairy tale-like world and try to bring some sort of twist to it, and while the world itself isn’t bad, it’s just not as creative as we’ve seen Pixar be in the past. I also thought it was a little too easy for Ian to learn all of the spells, even if he was special. They do the thing where the two main characters have to fight with each other in the middle of the movie to split them apart. I get that it was supposed to bring them back together even stronger than before, but the trope is getting pretty old. Luckily it doesn’t last long. I thought the fairy biker characters were a little annoying, and could have possibly been cut out of the plot.
If you’re someone who has thought that maybe Pixar has lost their magic, no need to worry. Onward is so charming, funny, and may just make you shed a tear. It’s exactly what we’ve all come to expect from Pixar and does not disappoint. It may not be the absolute best thing they’ve put out, but I could see it turn into many people’s personal favorite. It’s funny, heartwarming, and just solid. With a cast that includes Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, and such a personal plot, how could you go wrong?
Final Rating: 8/10