Man, it’s weird to see a movie at home just a month after it released in theaters.
Set in a fantasy world where modern technology has driven most to a life of normalcy, Onward follows the adventure between Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt), who set out in search of a crystal in order to meet their deceased father for a day.
Due to the coronavirus shutting most theaters down, it’s now available to watch on Disney+, which is how I watched it with my mom and little sister. I’m pretty sure we all enjoyed it, and it was a nice escape from all the doom and gloom of the news.
Despite trying multiple times, I’ve never really had the time to play Dungeons and Dragons, which is a shame since Onward uses the role-playing game as a strong foundation for its storytelling. Of course, it never assumes audiences know anything and keeps things pretty simple throughout, but I’m sure there were some references or jokes I never picked up on because of it.
Overall though, I thought the movie was fantastic! I laughed a bunch throughout, and was really touched by the familial relationship between Ian and Barley as they cope with their father’s death in different ways. After having seen so many Pixar films, I kinda know by the way they frame scenes when they’re trying to turn on the waterworks, but it doesn’t matter: they still get me.
I’ve heard some people throw around the idea that Onward is “Frozen for boys,” and while I agree that it’s silly to think that in 2020 either movie is “for” any one gender, I can see how parallels would be made between the sisterly bond of Anna and Elsa and the similarly brotherly bond between Ian and Barley.
The movie’s leagues better than Toy Story 4 and Incredibles 2, at least to me, but I’ve debated internally on whether it beats out Coco. That movie had such an incredibly realized world that drew on real Mexican culture to tell a sweet and heartfelt story, whereas Onward does a lot of the same but with fantasy and D&D as its basis. I think both films are great, but I might still give the edge to Coco. In any case, it still doesn’t beat Inside Out, which remains my favorite Pixar film of the last decade.
If you have Disney+, watching Onward is a no-brainer. If not, I’d still encourage you to check it out. It’s certainly not revolutionary and I doubt Pixar will be aching to make a sequel out of it any time soon, but it plays to Pixar’s greatest strengths and as usual is a spectacle of animation.