Onward (2020) is a magical story about two brothers, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt). They lost their dad, but go on a crazy adventure to be able to spend one last day with him. The story has many laughs along the way, but there are definitely some sad parts. (But, it is a Pixar film, so you know you will cry at some point.)
This film came out in March, but was stunted by the pandemic. So, shortly after its release, it was made available on Disney Plus. I was hesitant to watch this movie after the trailer left me unfulfilled, but I wanted to watch a feel-good, chill movie, and I think this movie filled its purpose.
Why should I watch this movie?
Besides the fact that this film stars the voices of Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, I would say that this film is a great movie for a child to watch. The story evokes creativity, encourages imagination, and thinking outside of the box. The main characters also go on a fun adventure, which would have intrigued me immensely as a child.
Yet, there is a serious side to the story. I remember clearly crying at multiples points, but the sad parts of the film might be overlooked by a child. There is one sad part that has to do with a cassette, that made me cry profusely. It touches on the significance and preciousness of someone’s voice. But, maybe I only cried because I am older, and see the significance in some of the scenes. If I watched this movie as a kid, there would be a good chance that I would have been able to watch it without crying. Oh, to be a kid and believe in magic and the unmatchable beauty of the world! What a time!
There are also some clever scenes that were clearly directed with meaning and thought behind them. For instance, when the dragon mascot of the school becomes the face of a rock dragon, that was pretty cool! Also, when Ian crosses out ‘laughing together’ on his list of things to do with his father, I realized the incredible importance of being able to laugh with the people you care about. Sometimes we don’t realize the value in some things, until we do not have it anymore.
What to think about?
This movie contains many cheesy, predictable plot twists, but the essence of the movie touches on the magic of being a child. When you get older, the “magic” fades away. It is a sad metaphor that is made in the film, but it is true. It got me thinking about when my childhood ended, and when I became an adult. In many ways I still feel very young, but in other ways, I have clearly grown up. I think I will always have my creative, imaginative side within me, and that is something that I am proud of.
One thing that I also liked about this movie is how the mom saves the day. I think that this part is very realistic, and shows the power and importance of mothers. However, at the finish of the movie, even though the father disappears again, I think that the ending image should have had the mother, her two sons, and their father (as a transparent spirit) to symbolize that he was with the family all along. Yet, I still like the meaning of this film, and the title “onward,” meaning to keep going and getting through the challenges that life throws at you.
Watch this movie: 6/10
This movie’s animation is incredible and the details in the outfits and rooms is great. I like the arc of the story (for the most part) and the ending’s message invoking the characters to do what they were destined to do. I also enjoyed how the brothers are opposites of each other, and how their love for one another is shown throughout the film.
The cheese puff boat was also pretty cool (if you have watched the movie, you know what I am talking about). However, for a good part of the movie, I was distracted by Pratt’s voice, I almost think that his part would have been better if someone less-known would have played that part. I think that his voice sounded like it was trying a bit to hard to be funny, and it made me less immersed in the film.
There are also plot holes throughout the film, but it is a kid’s movie, so I do not want to be too annoyed by this. But, for instance, the boys’ father has his legs for most of this film, but he cannot see where he is going– or can he? Sometimes the father walks as if he can see or hear, and other times he walks as if he cannot. This confused me throughout the film.
Overall, this film is a mix of fairy tale lore, dragons and curses, swords and flying, and the power of family. The film creates a sense of appreciation for our family, who cares about us through everything we go through. In the last few scenes of the film, Ian watches through rocks as he sees his brother greet his father and hug him. It is such a precious moment, and framing the scene with rocks between them shows Ian’s distance from his father, and emphasizes his longing to be with him. This movie has a lot of meaning, and I admire that. I know that the creators behind this movie created this movie out of their personal experiences in life, and I respect that greatly. You can buy the movie here.
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P.S. Some moments of the movie that stood out to me: It was really sad when Ian and Barley’s father disappears while Barley is hugging him. This part particularly hurt. But, early in the movie when their father shows his dance moves with his feet– that was funny and heart-warming. It really showed their father’s personality and their connection to him and his spirit.
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