I was fortunate enough to be able to see a preview screening of Pixar’s new film, Onward, on Saturday. It opens this Friday and I highly recommend you go see it if you get the chance! It’s a great Pixar original film. It’s funny, all sorts of nerdy, but also heartfelt and emotional. I was invested the whole time.
Onward takes place in a unique universe – it’s a world of fantasy where those living in the world are elves, centaurs, unicorns, etc. – but they’ve stopped using magic. It turns out that using magic is a difficult thing that takes practice and effort… and using technology is easier. There are still those who dabble in magic, including the late father of Ian and Barley Lightfoot, our two main characters. When Ian turns 16 their mother gives them a gift his father left. It’s a wizard staff with a spell to bring him back to life for 24 hours.
If you’ve seen any of the previews you know that the concept seems a bit silly – their dad only materializes halfway, so they’re toting around his bottom half for their whole quest. I was worried this might come off as just stupid, and while there were some bits there were slightly odd overall it actually worked and managed to be humorous, sad, and sweet all at different points.
When I saw what were obviously Dungeons and Dragons references I wished Jason was seeing it with me, because I’m hoping he finds it extra funny due to that. I myself do not have much DnD knowledge so you don’t need that to enjoy it, I just think it probably adds a little more personal interest.
Of course it’s no surprise with a voice cast that’s led by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt that you have strong vocal talent. They do justice to the characters and I immediately fell into believing their characters (and not just picturing Spider-Man and Starlord as brothers). But they’re not the only ones. Mom Laurel (voiced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) gets her own little road trip as she goes after her sons, joined by Corey the Manticore (Octavia Spencer). At first you wonder why Laurel is dating the stuffy Colt (Mel Rodriguez) – a police officer who’s constantly on Barley’s case. But he’s another one with a bit more than meets the eye.
So there’s lots of humor happening, and on the surface it seems the movie is all about Ian wanting to spend time with the father he’s never had, but there’s actually a lot more to it than just that. The relationships in this movie seem very “real,” despite that fact that they’re elves (and other creatures). No one comes off as extremely stereotypical. They might seem a certain way on the outside, but as you get to know them throughout the movie they seem more complex.
As much as Frozen is about the sister relationship between Anna and Elsa, Onward is about the brother relationship between Ian and Barley. The quest they go on might seem a little formulaic, the events predictable, but for me it didn’t matter because those events brought out the characters and emotions (and I generally place more emphasis on those anyway).
Did I cry? Yes, I did. Not necessarily because it’s just “sad,” but because the emotions are so well done and feel so real. When something moves me in a way like that it leaves a big impression and creates more appreciation of it for me.
Overall I really enjoyed Onward! I wouldn’t necessarily rate it as my favorite Pixar, but I had a great time watching it, I don’t have any major faults with it, and I’d happily watch it again. I definitely recommend going to see it!
Plus, our theater was giving away free Onward pins so I got one for one of my lucky readers to have! In order to enter all you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Only open to addresses in the US. Good luck!
Are you looking forward to seeing Onward?