Onward (2020) A Review

The first of the two offerings from Disney Pixar this year, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Certificate: U

Director: Dan Scanlon

Screenwriter: Dan Scanlon, Keith Bunin

Starring: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Genre: Animation, Fantasy

Runtime: 102 Minutes

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

If you have a good formula, something that works for you, don’t mess with it.  And a good formula is something that Disney Pixar has in spades.  They know the kind of stories that work well for them, that resonate with audiences and they very rarely stray from that.  And as long as that ends up with them producing gems like this, I am OK with that.

Set in a magical, fantasy land where magic has all but died out in favour of more convenient ways of doing things, Onwarf follows the story of two brothers as they embark on an epic quest.  On his sixteenth birthday, Ian is gifted a present left to him by his dad, who sadly passed away when he was only a baby.  The gift is a wizards staff, and the instructions for a spell that will bring him back from the dead for one day, so that he can meet his youngest son.  When the spell kind of backfires, leaving Ian with only the bottom half of their dad, he must go on an epic road trip with his older brother in order to finish the spell and finally get to meet his dad.

It sounds like a really silly premise, and I guess it is, but it just works.  The real humour comes from watching all the magical, mythical beings living normal suburban lives, while Ian and Barley are trying to get to grips with long extinct magic.  The brothers relationship is really what drives the film and is the main focus.  It is that relationship that brings about the cathartic moments towards the end of the film, and that may even evoke a few tears from those inclined. 

Tom Holland and Chris Pratt do a fantastic job as brothers Ian and Barley, their chemistry is awesome and they really put a lot of heart into their performances.  A good thing too, as without them, there really wouldn’t be much of a story at all, so they kind of had to nail it.  Julia Louis-Dreyfus does a pretty stand up job as mother Laurel, though I don’t really know if her entire side plot with the manticore was really necessary to the story, I would rather have had more of Barley and Ian if I’m honest.  Her story didn’t really provide her with any amount of character growth or development, it was really just a means to an end.  This part of the film made no sense to me.

I like that they went in a different direction with the ending then it seems like they will.  Ian has his own big moment of growth and realisation and that is probably the biggest tearjerker moment, when he can give Barley the opportunity to fix something rather then doing something for himself.

This film as just a big ball of animated joy, and I highly suggest you make time to go and see it.

Onward is out in UK cinemas now!

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