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Review: Onward

Tom Holland and Chris Pratt star in Disney/Pixar's ONWARD

Sometimes, you can use real-life events and turn them into stories that are genuine and human while still managing to exist in a completely fictional world. That can be difficult to accomplish, but with the right steps, things can come together just the way you need them to. And while it doesn’t reach the very top of the list of great animated films, I think Onward was able to achieve that.

At a time when they may need it most, two teenage brothers (Chris Pratt and Tom Holland) discover that magic actually does exist. In doing so, the duo becomes inspired and look to achieve the impossible by casting a spell that will be able to bring their father back for one day. To accomplish this, they get together and embark on an extraordinary adventure that will bring them closer and potentially set their lives on a path that once seemed unimaginable.

In spite of its imaginative premise, I left Onward thinking that parents liking this more than the kids they bring to see it was a strong possibility. That’s not to say children won’t or can’t enjoy what’s here. I believe they’ll likely be able to get some satisfaction out of it as well. However, it’s likely that adults may understand certain elements at a deeper level and will be able to feel the emotional implications of what’s being presented more.

The reasons behind me having this point of view is not just based on the potential maturity of the adults and their ability to understand some of the deeper meanings. I also feel that adults will be more receptive to what’s included because the comedy isn’t as strong as it should be for an animated film. This causes even more of the focus to go on the story and the film’s overall content. What we get from these elements are based on is serious topics focusing on loss, grief, family, and growth.

Jokes that get more laughs than this did makes everything we get more palatable while making it all feel less serious and mature. If done correctly, this could hypothetically give children a chance to connect with what they’re getting on-screen even if they don’t fully understand what’s going on. Children’s movies have been able to effectively tie these types of things together in the past, but Onward doesn’t succeed as much as those have in doing so.

For kids (and adults), there’s a sense of adventure that they will be able to latch onto. Despite its need for improved comedy, it can still be watchable for them if they are able to develop a sustainable bond with the protagonists that we’re asked to follow. If you learn a bit about the movie beforehand and think Onward may be for your child, I suggest giving them a chance to view it.

Although the comedy isn’t the best, Onward gets just about every other important aspect it implements correct. Because of that, it’s what I see as a well put together picture that most will be able to appreciate. In that case, I think recommending it to the majority is an easy thing to do as I can safely assume it will probably receive a mostly favorable response from its audience.

Director: Dan Scanlon

Dan Scanlon
Jason Headley
Keith Bunin

Chris Pratt
Tom Holland
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Octavia Spencer
Mel Rodriguez
Lena Waithe
Ali Wong

Film Length: 102 minutes

Release Date: March 6, 2020

Distributor: Disney/Pixar

  • 7/10
    Score - 7/10
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