The world in Pixar’s Onward is full of elves, pixies, and unicorns, but it’s no longer full of magic. Upon the invention of the lightbulb, creatures found flipping a light switch much easier than casting a spell. As technology advanced over time, magic lost its spark. Flying creatures now drive vehicles, unicorns have become pests that dig through garbage, and dragons are now kept as household pets.
But on Ian Lightfoot’s (Tom Holland) birthday, his mom (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) gives the teenage elf and his older brother Barley (Chris Pratt) a gift from their deceased father. It’s a wizard staff, accompanied with a magic stone and spell — that will bring back their father for 24 hours. Ian is the only one that can get the magic staff to almost work … and brings back only half of their dad. Determined, the brothers embark (with dad’s legs on a leash!) on a quest to bring back the rest of their dad.
The Lightfoot boys ride in Barley’s beloved Guinevere, his rust bucket van that has a majestic unicorn painted on its side. Their goal is to find another phoenix gem so they can take another crack at the spell. Barley is a “magic geek” and acts as their guide. He knows everything there is to know about spells, thanks to the lore in his quest game (which looks a lot like Dungeons and Dragons).
Ian pushes aside his own troubles (anxiety, trouble making friends, his fear of driving) on this journey. He thinks meeting his dad might help make his problems go away. He wishes he could be more like him, the confident fella who everyone loved. But in the meantime, he must learn to get along with his annoying brother who is boisterous and unashamed of his love for rock music and magic. (If you’ve ever seen School of Rock, Barley might remind you of Jack Black’s hilarious character, Mr. Schneebly.)
Onward to adventure!
Unlike many animated movies, Onward isn’t so much a comedy as it is an adventure story. The movie is full of hurdles the boys must get through by putting their skills together. They craft spells to walk on air over a chasm and even turn a Cheeto into a zooming speedboat!
In many scenes, you’re on the edge of your seat as the characters get through obstacle after obstacle — especially during one car chase scene where the boys are being chased by angry, motorcycle-driving pixies.
Like many other Pixar movies, Onward has a big heart and might make you want to squeeze your family after watching. The movie embraces the idea of searching for something you’ve had all along. Even though Barley is loud and plays rock music even louder, Ian realizes his brother was always there for him growing up. He always cheered him on and believed in him — and was the father he never had.
Onward is currently in theatres. Check out the movie trailer below!