Onward Movie Review: A Critical Hit

Onward Movie Review: A Critical Hit

by Arden Y.

Onward joins the ranks of Pixar’s incredible movies.

With pop culture classics such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Monsters Inc. already under their belt, Onward was a powerful addition to the numerous iconic movies Pixar Animation Studios has produced in the last 25 years. Their latest entry joins the long-standing tradition of Pixar flicks that made me cry. 

Onward proved that Pixar continues to move forward (or should I say onward) in their storytelling and universal diversity. For example, Onward had the first openly gay character in a Pixar movie. However, the movie still looks back and takes ideas and concepts from their previous heartwarming stories. There’s a sense of familiarity in Pixar films that feels nostalgic, but the creative plots that Pixar is known for differentiate each new addition in the studio’s collection. 

Onward is a classic adventure story, and it knows it. In fact, while poking fun at the formulaic “quest” plot from dozens of other animated movies, Onward also combines elements from and references to the popular role playing game Dungeons and Dragons. 

While the movie was a bit slow at times and somewhat predictable with traveling montages and close encounters, there was a twist at the end that resulted in shocked silence and not so silent tears. The slow paced adventure plot developed the characters, and explored a fantasy world that lost all its magic in favor of technology (a great analogy to today’s generation). 

Pixar is bold in exploring new ideas and story lines, exiting the mold of the overrated Disney love story cliche. Pixar focuses on world building at the expense of romantic drama, which is what makes their movies stand out. Pixar explores other types of relationships, ranging from an ant rebelling against an unjust society (A Bug’s Life) to a boy and his toy (Toy Story). These unique, even bizarre, stories are what make the studio so beloved. 

Onward is no exception. The movie focuses on the relationship between two brothers, Ian and Barley. They share a deep bond, especially since their father passed away many years ago. The two brothers (who also happen to be elves) go on a quest to try to bring their father back to life. Keeping this review spoiler free, I will say that the boys form an even deeper connection after their journey, and Ian realizes his brother was and always will be there for him. 

I recommend this movie to anyone who appreciates a wholesome animated movie for all ages. It has action, adventure, heartwarming character interactions, and an all-star cast, including Tom Holland as Ian and Chris Pratt as Barley. What’s not to love about two elves going on a magical road trip of self discovery?

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