Onward Review

MOVIE REVIEW: Does “Onward” Ever Get Where It’s Going?

The trailers for Onward have been a little frustrating, with their attempts to tell the whole convoluted story in sixty seconds. A land of magic moves into the modern-age, where unicorns live like alley cats and fairies take the bus to work. Two young elves attempt to resurrect their deceased father but something goes awry and they’re left with one day to fix what they’ve broken.
Yeah, it’s a big plot to swallow and Onward doesn’t linger on the details. It gets straight to business once the movie starts, introducing the fun quirks of this modern fairyland and, more importantly, our lovable brother-elves.
Ian (Tom Holland) is turning 16 and feels like he’s never been the man his father would be proud of. His older brother Barley (Chris Pratt) is a cuddly rebel with a Dungeons and Dragons (at least their version) addiction. Together they discover a bit of magic to revive their father and, when that misfires, their quest begins.
Onward often seems like a Lord of the Rings spoof but, at its heart, it’s about self-love. This is a film for all ages but it might speak more to teenagers, with Ian’s struggle to fit in and prove himself. There’s also a surprisingly deep message about finding strength within one’s family, at a time when kids are usually pushing them away. The Disney Pixar animators have outdone themselves as well, creating a realistic, gritty city with a wonderland resting just below its surface.
It doesn’t offer as many laughs as I’d hoped for and some of the jokes fall painfully flat, but Onward makes up for that with a wealth of warm-fuzzies. Even my impossible-to-please tweenager was wiping away tears and reaching for my hand as Onward hit it’s crescendo, which is a bigger seal-of-approval than anything I could give. (B)

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