Movie Review: Disney/Pixar’s Onward

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Chris Pratt and Tom Holland reunite for an epic animated adventure in Disney/Pixar’s Onward, now playing in theaters. 

Two teenage elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot (Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) go on a journey to discover if there is still a little magic left out there in order to spend one last day with their father, who died when they were too young to remember him.

Onward, Pixar’s 22nd film, doesn’t do anything that we haven’t seen the animation studio do before but it still every way a pure perfect Pixar movie. It’s a film that has charm, quick humor and creative energy that will make you happy to spend a few hours watching it. Onward continues the studio’s love of creating fantastical new world’s – from Monstropolis to the Land of the Dead – and Onward is now. We are introduced to the visually stunning world of New Mushroomton: a world that was once a Dungeons & Dragons-type kingdom filled with magic and mythical creatures but has since become ordinary and commercialized. It’s basically Middle-earth gone McDonald’s, but with the usual Pixar flare stuffed background gags.  

Living in this world Ian and Barley Lightfoot. Holland’s Ian is pretty much a pointed-eared Peter Parker with adolescent anxiety, while Pratt’s Barley goes full Star-Lord-meets-Jack Black and fantasy-loving slacker with his character. They are total opposites, Ian longing to fit in and Barley wanting to reconnect the world with its forgotten magic. When they find a spell that can bring their father back from the dead for just one day, things get really interesting. 

When the spell doesn’t go quite as planned, the film turns into a crowd-pleasing combo of an odd-couple, buddy road-trip comedy and coming-of-age milestones (the film does a great job depicting the terror of merging onto the freeway for the first time). The beats may be familiar, but its some of Pixar’s most elegant storytelling in recent years – its emotional arcs and comedy are all perfectly in sync. The film’s two-hour runtime goes by pretty quick, but it has a beautifully satisfying finale that puts everything in place.

Onward is definitely one of Pixar’s funniest films, especially when the second act kicks in the aftermath of Ian and Barley’s failed-spell delivers some hilarious sight gags and Pixar’s signature combination of the slapstick and the surreal. The charm and charismatic chemistry between Holland and Pratt, with some awesome visual comedy leading to an epic curse-battling climax, it might also be the studio’s wittiest movie since Monsters, Inc and The Incredibles

Onward is a laugh-out-loud, heartfelt, entertaining movie with a magic-fuelled father/son story that ends up becoming a tribute to brotherly love. Onward may not break any new ground for the studio, it’s a wonderful reminder just how amazing Pixar is.

Critic Rating: 4.5/5

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Writer/Blogger. Movies, television and reviewing them are my passions. When I put my mind to something, there is nothing I can't accomplish. Ryan also has a movie blog:

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