A skinny 16-year-old and his goofy older brother drag viewers and a set of legs by the leash through the film “Onward.”
Pixar’s latest movie, “Onward,” was released on Feb. 29, and centers around two brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, portrayed by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, respectively. The movie takes place in a universe inhabited by fantasy creatures, but the magic behind it has faded as technology has developed.
The character concepts for this film are largely based off of director Dan Scanlon’s personal experiences as he lost his father at a very young age. I believe that through this emotional connection to the story, Scanlon’s writing allowed audiences to feel a stronger emotional attachment to the characters.
A new idea was refreshing to see, as four out of six of Pixar’s most recent releases have been sequels. However, the plot was not all that different from a generic road trip movie with some exceptions. While a familiar plot line allows for a better adjustment to a new character universe, it does not make it better.
Holland’s character, Ian, is easily the best part about “Onward.” He is awkward and relatable to anybody who has been 16 before. He does not believe his older brother when it comes to the existence of magic, but he has a gift for it that he needs to help bring his father back for a day. As the film progresses, Ian becomes stronger in terms of both his magic and resiliency, and I rooted for him throughout the entire film. All I wanted was for Ian to get the chance to meet his father, even if it was brief.
While Pratt is a great actor and he did a good job with what he had, his character in this film just did not cut it for me. Barley continuously makes mistakes which Ian has to resolve, ultimately costing Ian the chance to meet his father. Clearly, there was a lesson that was learned through this scenario, but I felt that the film would have greatly benefitted from a fulfilling moment between Ian and his father.
I moderately enjoyed the lessons that Holland’s character learns throughout the course of the film as he realizes the importance of his relationship with his brother. It was emotional, but it definitely would have been a more powerful film if we actually got some interaction with their father.
Overall, I think “Onward” is fun to watch, but it lacks the memorability of a Pixar movie like “Monsters’ Inc.” or “Wall-E.” I would wait to watch this film until it was released on Disney+ unless you really love Pixar and are determined to see it in theaters. I truly hope that Pixar’s next film, “Soul,” set to release on June 19, will include the same fun world-building, but with a better plot to sustain it.