Film Release Date: March 6th, 2020
Studio: Pixar/ Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Dan Scanlon
Release Format: Theatrical
Pixar has done it again with Onward as they’ve crafted a movie that’s emotional as it is hilarious. They should have named this Onion from how it’ll make you breakdown.
The story centers on two brothers, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) Lightfoot, trying to revive their dead father for one day. They get it mostly right but only restore the bottom half and must search for the part of him.
I’m not going to tease you; this movie is Fuego. Enough said. I am not writing anymore about it after this; the rest of the text will just be random cooking ingredients. Okay, I’m being told there has to be an actual review, so keep read while buying your seats.
Pixar Put in Work
Onward is more emotional than a girl whose ex just dumped her for her sister. That’s to say this will leave you a wreck when the credits hit. If you are sitting next to a person in the theatre, not crying, move away from them as that is the sign of a sociopath.
I like the sense of urgency the story has as these two brothers have one chance to see their dad. You understand how far they’ll go to get the proper goodbye they never gave him. Onward moves at a great pace that feels like the narrative is going somewhere; you actually want Ian and Barley to succeed. This is thanks to the different elements coming together to get you invested from the touching script to the attention to detail in the animation.
Virtually every character here is fleshed out to incredible detail. The team even subverts some tropes that these films have in clever ways. Barley is a screwup, and although he isn’t malicious, I still found myself grinding my teeth. Then, the movie has a scene that makes me change my whole view of him, and I was like “Bravo” Onward.
Little things like a character’s movement or even their room tell whole stories about them. Your not just being told Ian is shy and scare you see it in his hesitant and slouched way of walking. The animators went above and beyond when it came to the facial animations here. Characters are so expressive that even when they’re silent, you can tell exactly what they’re thinking.
Absentee Father, Absentee World
An issue that I had with the movie that was never really resolved was the worldbuilding. Not much makes sense for these characters not to have been human since it changes very little to warrant it.
It does what a lot of animated movies do by creating a fantasy world that parallels ours. Still, with slight differences, Instead of FaceBook, it’s FloopBook or a magical dishwasher that washes things on its own, which wait, don’t we already have?
There are story explanations on why it is so close to our world, but the Onward doesn’t do enough to utilize the setting until later in the film. Thankfully, the likable characters here made that nagging issue fall to the back of my mind.
The half revived father is an impressive feat for a character since he literally has no top half. So the characters have to find tricky ways to communicate with him and put fake top half, so he’s not nightmare fuel for anyone in their city. The animation is at the forefront here as Pixar gets creative to make this half-man expressive and relateable
Ian goes through a journey to grow and find himself through this journey. He is timid to an almost ridiculous extent, but that makes for where he ends up in the end that more rewarding. The whole town dislikes barley, and right before you start asking why, it’ll like, “oh, I can’t stand him either.”
The secondary characters here are just as strong as our leads. They have their own arcs that play out over the story, such as Manticore named Corey (Octavia Spencer). Her dynamic with Laurel ( Julia Louis-Dreyfus) make a great duo that has their own side plot going own. Corey is a loose cannon while Laurel plays the straight man(woman?) to her antics.
This Is The One
Verdict: Onward is an experience that is going to connect with people on various levels. The story is fun and straightforward enough for kids to like while adults can relate to the deeper themes of loss. Although the worldbuilding is somewhat underdeveloped, the strengths in the writing, voice acting, and animation cover for that.
You all went out to see Sonic in droves, which was a decent film. However, this fantastic creative gamble is worth getting a ticket to see night one. I can’t remember the last time a film’s credits double dared viewers not to cry like they are Sam Jackson in Pulp Fiction. I’m here all it for it, though, and you should be too.
What did you think of Onward? Any animated films that surprised you with how good they were? Leave a comment!
- Funny & developed characters
- Great Pacing
- All-Star voice acting
- Nice score by Randy Newman
- World-building is weak/wasted
- No tissues for tear fest ending