Onward is Pixars attempt at jumping into the world of fantasy. It is best described as a family driven Lord of the Rings type film for kids. The films premise states that long ago, the world was reliant on magic, until the invention of electricity made the world forget their magical roots including pixies and their ability to fly or centaurs and their ability to run. The main character is awkward, sixteen year-old Ian Lightfoot, an elf who lives with his Mom and older brother Barley. Ian lost his Dad to an unnamed sickness as a baby, and never got a chance to know his funny, out going father.
But on his sixteenth birthday, Ian is gifted a wizards staff complete with a spell that might gift him the ability to have one, last day with his father. With the help of his magic obsessed brother Barely, the two Lightfoot boys set out on a quest to reunite with their father.
Ian being the more practical of the brothers, feels that he knows best compared to wild card Barely. But in trying to do things his way, the two brothers actually wind up in more trouble. When they start listening to each other, instead of yelling at each other, the quest finally starts to gain some traction and it seems like they might be able to reunite with their father after all.
However, the two are thrown for a loop when the quest seems to take them nowhere and unleashes an ancient curse that the family must face off together. If you are a hardcore magic fan, the simplicity of the magic world might not be awe inspiring. But considering its a kids movie, I think a soft magic system based on known tropes in the fantasy world was just right for the film. The magic is really more of a metaphor anyway, for not being afraid to embrace who you are, which Ian spends the whole film doing as he feels he doesn’t know himself yet because he didn’t know his father. Magic is his way of connecting with his Dad, which unleashes parts of his personality he didn’t think he was capable of having without him. But he realizes that his brother also had those parts, and as long as he had his brother he always had part of his Dad with him.
Its a cute, simple family film with an A+ cast of actors including Tom Holland as Ian, Chris Pratt as Barley, Julia Louise-Dreyfus as their Mom, and Octavia Spencer as Corey The Manticore.