‘Onward’ emphasizes the importance of familial bonds while keeping true to Pixar’s standards


Maya Kornyeyeva

Pixar’s newest animated film “Onward” takes place in a magical society filled with elves, pixies, manticores, and unicorns with an uncanny resemblance to racoons.

Having watched Pixar’s animated films throughout my childhood and adolescent years, I’ve always been blown away by their carefully-developed global themes.

Whether it was the fact that in “Ratatouille” social background didn’t determine skill or the idea that dreams are worth achieving, as displayed in the movie “Up”, Pixar’s latest creation “Onward” proved to be no exception.

Released into theaters on March 6, 2020, “Onward” began with a dramatic prologue that showcased the arrival and disappearance of magic, with Pixar taking on the task of developing an entirely new society to house its animated journey.

From unicorns turning into dumpster divers to fairies forgetting how to fly, the introduction of a modernized world filled with magical creatures created a much-needed clash between the mythical and the material world.

This setting, coming from director Dan Scanlon, who previously directed “Monsters University”, is in fact one of the things that make “Onward” a movie worth watching over and over again with your family. The amount of imagination put into the fantastical setting alone will have you coming back for more.

The main characters, introduced soon after the prologue as Ian and Barley, are two brothers dealing with a variety of  problems of their own, along with their mother’s new boyfriend Colt Bronco, a police officer who commonly uses the catchphrase “Working hard or hardly working.”

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Ian, a 16-year-old high schooler faced with the common fears of highway driving and making friends, has a character that almost jumps off the screen and reforms as any teenager. His older brother, Barley, is considered as widely ‘uncool’ due to his obsession with a medieval quest game and his car: Guinevere.

Along with humor, the twist in the story comes when the brothers are united in a magical quest to bring back their father: or just his top half. In a race against time, the two bring a Manticore back to her senses, share heart-to-heart moments, and fight a dragon made of stone.

The cast included Tom Holland, a 23-year-old British actor famous for his role as Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Chris Pratt, a 40-year-old American actor who starred in movies such as Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World. They played the two brothers, Ian and Barley, as they have collaborated before.

Their acting history together allowed for a more personal feel in the movie and brought in an entirely new group of viewers to theaters: Marvel fans. Their joint appearance in the animated film is a significant factor in why I personally couldn’t wait for the movie to come into theaters and then to Disney+ one short month later.

Like any movie, it had its fill of cringe-worthy moments and unsurprising plot events. These moments, however, were overshadowed by the final, sweet message of the film, that those who matter most are the ones that have been with you through your ups and your downs, adventure after adventure.

The film was all about creating and understanding familial bonds, which ended in a surprise, just like the rest of Pixar’s animated films.

This trend of refreshing endings is what tied the seemingly out-there characteristics of “Onward” to the other Pixar movies. The idea that in reality, not everything works out the way you planned it to, but still turns out okay, is what viewers like me enjoy gleaning from a film. A happy ending, but with a bittersweet twist.

With all of this in mind, “Onward” is shaping up to be another Pixar classic, filled with powerful concepts that will melt the hearts of young and old viewers alike.

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