By Isabel Berry
Pixar’s most recent flick, Onward, starring Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Octavia Spencer will make you laugh and cry at the same time.
Photo Courtesy of Disney Movies
Onward was dropped on to Disney+ after theaters were shut down due to COVID-19. This was controversial because this would mean that Disney was going to make much less money than they anticipated from this movie.
When questioned on how he felt about movies being dropped directly onto Disney+, Freshman Gabe Porter stated, “People who have streaming services have a wide variety of movies and tv shows. While streaming services have been proven to be a success, I like how theaters were able to give everyone the chance to experience movie magic.”
The story follows two teenage brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, as they go on a quest to get one day with their late father. Now, this may seem like just another Disney movie where the characters go on a daring adventure, but I promise that it is so much more than that. Onward is similar to Zootopia in the respect that it showcases fantasy creatures that live in modern times. But unlike Zootopia, the characters in Onward struggle with the pull towards technology over magic. Ian, Barley, and their mom, Laurel, are elves, but this movie also has sprites, trolls, centaurs, a manticore, and unicorns (which turn out to be the fantasy creature equivalent to a raccoon).
Onward’s plot shows Ian and Barley receiving a gift from their late father, Wilden. Before he died, Wilden left his sons a magic staff and a spell that would allow them to bring him back for one day. Barley fervently tries to perform the spell, but it’s ultimately Ian who succeeds. The power of the spell ends up being too much for Ian to handle alone and the stone that lies inside of the staff ends up getting destroyed in the process. Ian and Barley believe for a moment that the spell was unsuccessful, but it turns out that Ian was able to complete half of the spell before the stone shattered. Wilden returns from the dead, but it’s not all of him, it’s only the lower half of his body, meaning that he can’t hear or speak to his sons.
This sparks the quest and Ian and Barley have to travel into the unknown to get another stone for the staff to finish the spell. They visit a Manticore, have a standoff with some sprites, have to walk across an invisible bridge that only works when they believe, have a high stakes police chase, and almost get devoured by a giant green gelatinous cube, all while going through the normal struggles of getting along with your sibling.
One of the things that makes Onward so enjoyable, is that it’s very relatable. When asked what she thought of the movie, Junior Katie Mason replied, “I think the storyline was pretty relatable because even though I haven’t lost my dad, I’ve lost loved ones I never got a chance to meet, and I get wanting to meet them. And Ian is a 16-year-old dork in high school who is super awkward, and we all kinda relate to that.” Losing loved ones is just part of life and the way that Pixar chose to portray it really worked for them here.
The whole storyline alludes to the realization that you shouldn’t forget where you came from, but the real lesson that Ian learns is one that was not easy to come to terms with. Even though he never got to meet their father, Ian realizes that Barley was ultimately the one that helped him accomplish all the things on his list of ‘Things-To-Do With Dad’. The family dynamic in this film is simple, brothers with a broken bond get united by their common goal to see their father one last time. But what really makes Onward stand out from other movies is its ending.
Pixar never goes for the easy win, there’s always a lesson to be learned. So when Ian finds out that Barley never got to say goodbye to their father, it ties the whole movie together. By the time that the boys get the stone to do the spell, there are only a few moments left of their dad’s time before he fades away forever. There’s also a curse and a dragon threatening to prevent both of the boys from seeing their father at all. So rather than Ian meeting their dad for the first time, Ian allows Barley a chance to say goodbye.
Ian doesn’t get to meet their dad, but it ended up okay because Ian realized that Barley was like the dad he never had and truly appreciated all that Barley had done for him. When asked if she would change the ending, Senior Zoe Sanders stated, “I thought the ending was heart-wrenching but also beautiful and hopeful in a way. I don’t think I would change the ending if I could. Ian’s choice to fight the dragon to give his brother the goodbye he deserved is telling to how much Ian loves Barley.”
In conclusion, if you don’t have Disney+ then you should definitely look into getting it because Onward is a movie that you just can’t afford to miss.