Easy Fun: Our Review of ‘Onward’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 06, 2020
Easy Fun: Our Review of ‘Onward’

You just never know when an epic quest is going to land right at your feet…

While Onward doesn’t necessarily inspire some of the more whimsical moments that we are used to in the Disney/Pixar canon it is undeniably a hell of a lot of fun that is very in tune with its audience.

In a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers, Ian & Barney Lightfoot (Tom Holland & Chris Pratt), embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left out there.

Onward isn’t necessarily build a world that is going to inspire multiple deep dives into its universe but as a stand along piece of fun it’s got some great messages about being able to live in the moment and appreciate what you have.

It’s a film that keeps it simpler then you’d expect but that’s where the genuine charm in Onward not only survives but actually thrives.

Writer/Director Dan Scanlon and his team give us a story that for once in the Pixar canon embraces something natural inside the weird of the story that they want to tell.  It starts strongly enough, effectively establishing this world that we are bearing witness too and it allows us easy access to the emotional core of the narrative as we are set on this quest.  It’s got just a little too much padding in the middle as it loses a little focus hitting us with fun sight gags and some pop culture references but it really hits its stride in the third acts as it finds it’s groove that is somewhere between Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Field of Dreams.  It all makes for a stylistic departure that will keep you on your toes for just a second but as it evolves into this incredibly emotional and heartfelt story that isn’t breaking for a musical number you won’t be able to help but get swept up in this immaculately animated adventure.

It’s a film that does borrow a fair bit from what has come before it and while it will hardly be accused of a plethora of originality; this film really is an excellent exercise in execution from top to bottom.

Tom Holland as our hero Ian Lightfoot is really channeling the young adult hero archetype that we saw so often in films from the 1980’s and Chris Pratt alongside him, makes for an incredibly engaging duo in this adventure.  Their character really play off of one another with exceptional ease as the nerdy younger brother trying to find his place in life right besides the over confident big brother who is simply barrelling forward in life as best he can.  They are cinematic Yin & Yang in a formula that is as solid as Peanut Butter and Jelly.

Julia Louis Dreyfus, Octavia Spenser & Mel Rodriguez round out the bulk of the ensemble decently enough with a few other recognizable voices sprinkled in, but the film is all in the hands of Tom and Chris and they certainly do this quest proud.

At the end of the day, Onward isn’t exactly the timeless piece of cinema that we’ve grown to expect but that’s actually a good thing because it allows for a little bit of relaxation and the ability to tell a story that knows what it wants to achieve, allows us to have some fun in the process and leave us with some positive life messages to boot.  That’s more than enough as far as we are concerned.

  • Release Date: 3/6/2020
This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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