With the release of the very first trailer, I knew that Pixar’s Onward was going to be a movie I needed to see. Yes, needed. It was clear right away where the story was going and, as a girl who lost her father over 20 years ago and still misses him, I wanted to see him again…if only through the eyes of magic in a movie. However, there were mixed reviews among my friends with each trailer release. So, the question remained. Would Onward be all I anticipated or would it leave me with another hole in my heart?
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure policy for more information.
Run time: 1 Hour 40 Minutes
Onward is the story about a spontaneous quest two elf brothers take in an attempt to bring their late father back to life, if only for a day. Yes ~ the movie deals with loss and that may be a VERY difficult topic for some (Littles and adults alike). It also speaks to the hope of seeing that lost loved one again ~ something that I found a little difficult to process while watching the movie.
Point blank, I actually loved the film. No – I’m not exaggerating, not saying it because I was invited as media to see the film. To be honest, I actually went into this movie fearing it was going to disappoint. I had expectations because of the subject matter. There was something I wanted to see. I needed that proverbial tug on the heartstrings. The mixed reviews I mentioned above? Well, they frankly gave me a little pause.
However, to the contrary, what I got was a beautifully crafted adventure story that entertained me, surprised me, melted me and more.
Inside The Magic of Onward
Onward is more than just a movie about missing someone loved and lost. It is more than a movie about magic or adventure.
The script was clearly written for anyone and everyone. It speaks to those who have lost loved ones, those who are struggling with self worth and those who need a life event to spark a revelation that sets them on a new course. It brings to light things we have taken for granted and brings hope to a new level of expectation.
Three Key Takeaways
As with any movie, there are typically standout messages to take home with you. Pixar did a fantastic job incorporating these elements into the story-line and I felt they really hit home for me…and, believe it or not, my two younger sons.
It’s Important To Believe In One’s Self
Too often, we let circumstances from the past (or present) influence the way we think about ourselves. That feeling then hinders us from taking big steps we may have determined to take in our hearts, but are too afraid to put into action. I am beyond guilty of this myself. My bucket list is long and vision board packed. However, believe it or not, I battle with the fluctuating degree of my capabilities on a daily basis. What’s key is to have someone in your family, friend group or circle that supports you for you are, knows where your strengths lie and fuels you with encouragement that can empower you to become all you can possibly be.
It’s Important to Trust Those Who Unconditionally Love You
When you are already battling over trusting yourself and your own abilities, it’s not easy to trust those around you either. When something critically important to us arises, we are drawn to micromanage and do what WE feel is right. Oftentimes, it is the right way to go – trust your gut, right? However, sometimes, it’s important to hear out the advice, guidance, encouragement or wisdom someone who truly does love and wants the best for us has to share. No – it’s not always easy. In fact, sometimes it hurts to trust others…but sometimes it’s the best thing we can do. I would say more so in circumstances where we are already overwhelmed with the details.
It’s Important To Realize What We Already Have
Sometimes we are blinded to those things in our lives that have such tremendous impact. Sometimes we are so focused on our one goal, our one desired outcome (or even our own shortcomings), that we forget or take for granted those things and people around us. Oftentimes, an event occurs that knocks that reality into place within our hearts and we begin to see what we already have. At that point, the desired outcome takes on a different perspective. Our one goal takes on a new shape.
It’s Important To Put Others First
This is not to say that self-care isn’t critical or a priority. What I mean by this is that we need to evaluate each situation individually and move ONWARD in a way that results in the most beneficial outcome – even if it we (as an individual) are not in the sum of the equation (instead a factor, addend, etc). The result will have a different effect on us when we find a way to promote someone else’s happiness.
Sometimes the adventure we’re on isn’t all about us.
The Likes and Dislikes
What I liked about Pixar’s Onward
It’s no secret that Pixar is squared away when it comes to animation. The gifts these artists have are phenomenal and I am always in awe of the finished product I see up on that screen. The animation in this movie is exactly what you would expect to see coming out of Pixar. I mean, we were so caught up in what we saw that we actually FELT the movie as we sped along with Gwniver, paused with anticipation and suspense and (hands to mouth) wondered what was going to happen next. Honestly, it was that good!
We also loved the script and how the story was actually told. Not EVERYTHING has to be predictable and we appreciated the way certain things played out.
I love the Mom’s role in the story (Laurel, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfuss). I love the fact that she has found a way to move “onward” into another relationship and is happy. It isn’t controversial or stereotypical either. Her love for her boys and respect for her late husband are genuine and can be felt by every wife and mother in that audience. Her passion to ensure her children’s safety – even though they are young men now – is dynamic and inspiring. My boys know full well that I would move heaven and earth to ensure their safety. So, in that vein, I could totally relate to Laurel’s character.
On another note, it is such a breath of fresh air to see Pixar writers take what was once outside the social norms and incorporate it into the script as if it has been acceptable and natural all along. It flowed so beautifully and perfectly ~ kudos! If I’m right, you won’t even know what I’m talking about because of how well the writers designed the story.
What I didn’t like about Pixar’s Onward:
Okay – so, it’s not like I didn’t like something. To be honest, what I’m about to share took nothing away from the movie for me. I enjoyed it immensely and found myself totally engaged from beginning to end. However, there were a few things the boys and I discussed on the way home that puzzled us just a bit. Puzzled may not be the right word, but you’ll get what I mean when I explain what I can.
(warning – mild spoilers, but it shouldn’t affect your decision to see it):
It’s certainly next to impossible to make something absolutely perfect and without question. That being said, we found just a few things that we surprised us. For one, the speed at which Ian learns magic appears a little disproportionate towards the end of the movie. Second, the character development of Ian and Barley’s father is a little confusing at times.
Let’s talk Ian’s magic. It just felt like things clicked a little too perfectly towards the end…but that may not be something with which everybody takes issue. It just caught my son’s eye and I found myself completely understanding what he was saying. To be honest, still not that big of a deal.
Now, let’s talk about the disconnect in Dad’s character development. This is more of a consistency issue. It’s common knowledge that he is only present from the waist down. There are no ears to hear, no eyes to see. They do a very good job at compensating for that – except there are a few moments where it appears as if he did hear, did see or did understand. Again, these are only things that a true critic (or someone looking for these details) would tend to notice or question (my 16 year old is a TRUE critic – I wish he would write more of these for me!!).
Would I Recommend Pixar’s Onward?
It’s a GREAT movie! When I gave my one-line review to the PR rep, I said, “It’s an endearing adventure that had us laughing, wondering, hoping and taking the magical adventure right along with them.” It’s true. We were pulled in, engaged and feeling everything from start to finish. I love the combination of Tom Holland and Chris Pratt (boy, Tom seems to work great with everyone!) and I felt extremely and personally connected to the story being told.
And on that note…
I would recommend the movie with the following disclaimers to keep in mind.
If you have lost someone close to you and you’re sensitive to the discussion, topic, etc, be warned. This movie has tremendous potential to tug at several heartstrings. In fact, it may be difficult for Littles who have recently lost someone close. I can picture the scenario where a Little begins to ask questions about bringing their own loved one back for a day. Think hard on how you might carefully discuss this topic with them.
Otherwise, I advise you to bring tissues and be prepared to sob.
If you have a best friend, close sibling or parent with whom you are very close, this will be another topic discussed that may affect your emotions. Bring tissues and maybe consider seeing it with them. You may find yourself grabbing each other’s hands at various points.
There are a few dark scenes that may scare Littles.
- For instance, the first scene inside the Manticore’s Tavern does turn a little loud and scary at one point with fire, rage and destruction. It resolves fairly well and should leave no long-lasting effects. However, just know that those few minutes may be “head buried under your arm” moments.
- There is also a scene near the end that may be a little scary, too. It involves a dragon, fire, some fear and fighting. Pixar did a great job at adding a little humor to this scene, so it may not be as intimidating. The possibility still exists, so I had to mention it.
Profanity-wise, I don’t believe there is any. I mean, there is one “son of a…” but the phrase is never completed (and it’s the mom, so she could have finished that with anything there).
There is no nudity, but you do see the crack of an animated backend…(it’s okay to laugh).
Pixar’s Onward pulls into theaters March 6th!!!
Are you ready for the magical adventure?
It’s a movie I highly recommend seeing with others – family, close friends…and bring tissues! You will smile, laugh, gasp and sometimes find yourself on the edge of your seat. It is emotional and, for me, very much so. I lost my father when I was four months pregnant with our first son. He actually never met any of his grandchildren…nor did I get the chance to say goodbye.
Simply put, Pixar did it again. They brought us a movie that tugs on ALL the heartstrings and with tremendous force. Enjoy and be sure to grab tickets to see Onward when it comes out this March!! I’m sure you will fall in love with Ian, Barley, Gwniver and more!
PS – Octavia Spencer ROCKS her part as The Manticore!! The women in this movie are mighty, fierce and full of life and love!
Amazon Picks for the Pixar fan in you!!!
Tina M. Brown (Footprints in Pixie Dust) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for the blog to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com.