ONWARD – A Review by John Strange
In today’s world fewer things than before come to us with any sort of guarantee or promise but that is not the case with Disney Pixar films. Since Toy Story’s release in November of 1995, we have been given films that have engaged our minds and warmed our hearts. Onward as the 22nd entry from the studio continues in that vein.
The story revolves around Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) and his brother Barley (Chris Pratt) on Ian’s 16th birthday as they quest to find a magical stone to power the staff left to them by their father before his death.
This world is similar to ours but at the same time wildly different. Theirs is a world where the magical creatures didn’t disappear but simply found that science was easier than relying on a wandering magical user for day-to-day requests like fire and light.
As time went on the civilization developed along the same lines as ours. Cities, schools, even police forces came into being setting the stage for the middle-class Lightfoot family. And unicorns, well this isn’t their finest hour.
This story for all of the build-up is about family. The two brothers get along like many brothers. The older brother, Barley, is a bit of a scamp and almost a ne’er-do-well. The boy’s first attempt to perform the spell doesn’t go all that well leaving them with their dad, but only from the waist down when Barley insists on helping! Their goal becomes to complete this spell and return their father, Wilden (Kyle Bornheimer), to them for one day.
Barley, using his extensive knowledge of a role-playing game based on their civilization’s history, comes up with a way to power the staff which would allow Ian to complete the spell. Thus we have a fine example of the venerable “road trip”, complete with all manner of roadblocks, detours, and wild characters to deal with.
This, like the best road trip movies, has a great windup to an excellent climax where our guys come out smelling like roses (and not, thankfully, like unicorns). There are great revelations and a heart-warming meeting with a parent, long needed and desired.
The Pixar folks, from directors to writers to animators, have knocked this one out of the park. I loved the diversity of characters used in ways that surprised me in their almost mundane nature. Bikers, police officers, and waitstaff are just some of the characters in Onward. I loved them all but the bikers were… so cool! This is another 5 Star film for these amazing, talented, filmmakers!
Directed by: Dan Scanlon
Cast: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Ali Wong, Octavia Spencer, John Ratzenberger, Lena Waithe, Mel Rodriguez, Kyle Bornheimer
MPAA Rating: PG
Selig Rating: 5 Stars
Runtime: 103 Min.
Movie Site: movies.disney.com/onward
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.