Movie Review: Onward


By Andrew McManus



Directed by: Dan Scanlon

Starring: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Mel Rodriguez

Runtime: 102 minutes

Rating: PG (for action/peril and some mild thematic elements)

This review is dedicated to my brother Aaron McManus. Love ya Sammy.

I was looking forward to this film for the last month. My mom follows “new” movie trailers and called me as soon as she saw this one. The gest was essentially an adventure about two brothers. She said it reminded her of my younger brother Aaron and I because the older brother was always trying to get the younger one to do things. I told my brother and he agreed to go with me. See I was already getting him to do things! This wasn’t a live-action film. It was animated but it was produced by Pixar. Think of ANY great animated film in the last decade. Usually, Pixar was involved. The cast worked. We have two Marvel alums at the lead. Tom Holland (Spiderman) and Chris Pratt (Star-Lord) play the brothers and they’ve had a nice back and forth in Marvel films so I felt the casting would be good. The question is would an animated film have the excitement of a live-action adventure?

Onto the film.

We learn of the world we are in. It’s in a town called New Mushroomton (original I know) It isn’t a regular Earth. Magical creatures are alive and thriving. We see that in the past the citizens have used magic to live. As time has progressed, magic had become harder to learn so everyone started to live “regular” lives and it disappeared. On a side note apparently this is also released in 3D and I wish we would have attended that format. From what I’ve read see it in that format if possible. We actually opened with a Simpson’s short film that was cute and started our adventure off in the right way. We then cut to present day and we meet our two heroes. As I stated we have two brothers (elves) named Ian (Holland) and Barley. (Pratt) They are polar opposites. It’s apparent that the younger brother Ian lacks confidence. He never knew his father growing up and as a young kid is looking for an identity. On the contrary the older brother Barley (Pratt) is larger than life. If not annoying at times! They have lost their father years ago (he passed away) and live with their mother Laurel (Louis-Dreyfus) and her

boyfriend (not sure if he lives with them.) He’s centaur/cop named Colt Bronco. (Rodriguez) The names here are gold. It’s Ian’s birthday and he is given a gift left by his late father. A STAFF. With said staff there is a “visitation spell” that will allow the boys to have 24 hours with their father. They mess up the spell….

We then see an epic quest take place as the brothers attempt to fix the spell and see their father. The group leave with “half” of their Dad. The bottom half has appeared and it’s akin to Weekend at Bernie’s. They dress him up and he follows on the adventures.

When I say epic, that word speaks perfectly on this film. Our leads are mythical creatures. Think of any recent film dealing in the mythological. (Lord of the Rings for instance) We meet different characters of various races and breeds (a biker gang of fairies is HILARIOUS) I was honestly surprised at how many times both my brother and I laughed out loud. It was cute too and heartwarming. Obviously I drew similarities when watching this. We both grew up attempting to figure life out. I can remember many adventures we had as kids and even many talks we have today about life and figuring things out. It’s obvious the boys rely on each other and have a great bond. I’m lucky. I have that with my brother too. Trust me! We fight like the characters on the film, and I KNOW I’m overbearing and as annoying as Barley (Pratt) but life’s an adventure! I’d be lying if I said that life is always smooth sailing. It’s hard a times. It was hard growing up at times too. We relied on each other and that same relationship was apparent in this film. I immediately took a fondness to this flick. Also the van they drive is MUCH cooler than my Ford Thunderbird or the Cobalt (Busey Bus) ever was.

There are many reasons to see this film. If you are a fan of Pixar movies its right up there with some of the best (Inside Out, Toy Story, WALL-E) What I liked the most were the characters. Granted I’m biased because it was a story about two brothers and I got to watch this with my brother but the chemistry between the leads is there. They fight. They laugh. They cry. It might be two elves but you’ll see similarities to everyday people. I don’t really think this film had a “big bad” maybe it was just time….or the biker gang? There is peril and there’s even a dragon but this story is more about the journey unfolding. On another note if you’re a fan of Dungeons and Dragons or Game of Thrones you’ll see many references there as well. It’s always nice when “kids” films have things for adults.

This film clearly has one thing a lot are missing and that’s HEART. Yes I teared up at the end of a Pixar film. I read an interview with the director after seeing this movie and this story actually hit home for him. He had lost his father at a young age and looked to his older brother for guidance. There is one scene in particular that is so poignant. We don’t hear the words spoken but you already know. My brother punched me on the shoulder in one scene so I think he saw similarities too. He HATES movies and usually won’t stop talking during them. We don’t go together much for this reason. He was quiet. He actually watched it and took it in. If my brother can get enjoyment out of this I feel you’ll definitely be able to. The characters learn about themselves and about life and sometimes it’s nice to get little reminders. Give it a shot. 4 stars out of 5 #SHOPLOCAL

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By Andrew McManus