Movie Review: Onward


John Sabato, Reviewer

Pixar is a giant within the animation industry, creating countless classics such as “Toy Story” and “Up”. Pixar’s newest entries don’t seem to be as strong as the predecessors, with films like “Incredibles 2” and “Toy Story 4” suffering from weak storylines and use of nostalgia to lure in unsuspecting moviegoers. Pixar tried their hand with original stories once more with “Onward”, a tale of two brothers who set out to find the one thing that can help them bring back their deceased father for one more day, a Phoenix gem. 

“Onward” is led by Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, playing Barley and Ian Lightfoot, respectively, who are polar opposites of each other and are the probably the best part of the movie with excellent voice work from the duo. Pratt’s Barley is an exuberant and wild individual who acts before he thinks, bringing out multiple problems along the way. When it comes to Holland’s Ian, he’s the anti-social brains of the operation, who’s a “my way or the highway” kind of guy. These differences lead to many conflicts down the line, but it helps open their eyes and makes Ian realize just how lucky he was to have Barley. The story really begins to ramp up when they journey to find the Manticores Tavern, what was once home to a daring and dangerous beast known as the Manticore, had become modernized into a Chuck E. Cheese-esque entertainment dining establishment. From there, the two must decipher from what’s left of a map and decide what option best fits their set time frame, all while Ian tries to perfect his magic and conquer his fear of driving. 

Alongside this a subplot is thrown into the mix with the Manticore, played by the great Octavia Spencer, probably the only other character aside from the brothers that’s actually a good character and is developed well throughout the film, and the Lightfoots mother, Laura, voiced by Julia Louis Dreyfous who is so awfully wasted and feels almost pointless to pair her with Spencer’s Manticore. Having forgotten to tell the boys about the curse when retrieving the Phoenix gem, Manticore and Laura must race to find the Brothers before it’s too late, constantly being one step behind them. This felt like a waste of time and like they just threw something at the wall to see if it would stick. The Manticore was semi interesting at least, with the Lightfoots helping her break the mold that this new tame society had put her into.

The feature was great until it reached the final act, in which I couldn’t help but feel uninterested. Even if the big fight was supposed to be entertaining, it just wasn’t. The only thing that kept me hanging on was Ian’s plotline, and the development he makes along the journey. Other than that, it felt like an uncreative bore that tried to keep me on the edge of your seat, but had me already looking for my phone. Overall, this movie is fine, nothing groundbreaking, and definitely not as emotionally manipulative as some of Pixar’s other entries. In all honesty this movie feels so out of place as a Pixar movie it felt as if it was a knockoff another studio was trying to pass off as best animated feature worthy but still a better end result then the studios recent entries.