Although Disney Pixar’s Onward isn’t the type of film that usually draws my attention, I was pleasantly surprised with the recent release on Disney+. Besides being a genius marketing strategy for their new streaming platform, Onward is also a wholesome and heartfelt road trip movie for the whole family starring Tom Holland and Chris Pratt.
The two brothers, Ian and Barley, live in a world very similar to our own except that it was once full of magic and wonder. Now that the magic is gone, however, capitalism has taken over, leading to the formerly-mystical creatures getting day jobs. The Lightfoot brothers, who just so happen to be elves, find themselves getting wrapped up in an epic quest with a surprisingly compelling twist. With stakes rapidly escalating, jokes throughout, and heartstrings being pulled like only Disney knows how, Onward completely shattered my expectations. Whether that’s because I had extremely low expectations to start with is still up for discussion.
Onward completely shattered my expectations. Whether that’s because I had extremely low expectations to start with is still up for discussion.
Without spoiling too much, Onward is set up as a very standard family-friendly animated flick but ends up taking some interesting creative twists that surprised and delighted. The fact that the story had so many emotional moments that hit close to home for me definitely helped. It’s hard to dislike a movie when you’re bawling your eyes out and clutching your significant other’s hand at the sight of two cartoon elves hugging. That’s got to take some kind of magic in and of itself, to be honest.
Although I enjoyed the movie, it’s definitely not without its flaws. Both Ian and Barley took a while to grow on me, which I partly attribute to the film’s pacing and writing. Chris Pratt is really the only actor given enough of a personality to warrant an especially expressive take, but his lines are wasted, at least at the beginning, on a lackluster Jack Black impression that he eventually grows out of. As Holland and Pratt are given more to work with, their performances drastically improve.
For the price of already having Disney+ to rewatch the Mandalorian and an hour and forty-two minutes of your time, Onward is the kind of wholesome, magical adventure that we all need in these difficult times.