"Onward" Movie Review

Updated on March 9, 2020
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

Onward | Source

After two straight sequels, Pixar is back to offering up fresh material for the first time since 2017’s Coco. Onward, a magic-steeped bit of fun set in a world of elves, fairies, and the occasional centaur-stepdad-policeman, may not offer up Pixar’s usual level of instant-classic-ness, but it still manages to be among the studio’s sweeter films to date. And it’s also wholly original—when’s the last time a giant Cheeto, a gelatinous cube, and a sacrificial van all played a role in a feature film?

Writer-director Dan Scanlon (Monsters University), who was only a year old when his father passed, drew on that life experience to craft a tale of two brothers—in an age of unicorns and dragons—who uncover a spell that can return their father to life for 24 hours. The younger brother, 16-year-old Ian (Tom Holland), is given his dad’s old wizard’s staff by his mom (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), but when the spell malfunctions and only the lower half of his dad appears, Ian and his older brother Barley (Chris Pratt) set out on a quest to find the mystical Phoenix Gem in order to finish the job.

The journey takes them from their hometown of New Mushroomton to the Manticore’s Tavern, down the Path of Peril, and finally to Raven’s Point—all of which instantly become leading contenders for greatest Pixar place name ever. Along the way, the brothers bond and share some laughs as they lead their half-dad (via retractable dog leash) to where X, naturally, marks the spot. It’s a wildly inventive trip that includes car chases, literal leaps of faith, and even the occasional dust-up with a biker gang of rough ’n tumble mini-fairies.

Keeping with Pixar’s fine tradition of outstanding, high-level animation, Onward doesn’t skimp at all when it comes to mind-blowing details and textures throughout. The film is stuffed with so many Disney and Pixar easter eggs, you’ll need a dozen or so viewings to catch them all, from the Pizza Planet truck to Poultry Palace to the required voice cameo by Pixar’s good luck charm John Ratzenberger.

Holland and Pratt, who are of course prior colleagues in the Avengers world, bring all kinds of dynamism and expressiveness to their voice roles—Pratt especially, in what may be Onward’s most memorable character. Barley is a slightly nerdy, gung-ho fan of Quests of Yore, a Dungeons and Dragons-esque RPG, whose rules wind up governing the brothers’ journey. Octavia Spencer also delights as Corey, a glorious manticore-of-old who has resigned herself to a life as the owner of a cheesy themed restaurant.

Of course, the real reason adults agree to lug their kiddos to a Pixar film is for the tug at the heartstrings and perhaps the occasional tear-inducing moment of bittersweet emotion. Onward provides one in spades, wrapping up the film so sweetly that you’ll find yourself protesting to your kids that you’re not crying, they are.

Though not in the rare air of Wall*E or Toy Story 3, Pixar’s latest fits right in line with the studio’s above-average offerings like Brave, Finding Nemo, and Ratatouille, and it’s preceded by an especially cute Simpsons short that sets the tone perfectly for the magic to come.


4/5 stars

'Onward' trailer


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      2 months ago

      I loved this movie!!! I went to see it THE DAY it came out in the theaters. The beginning was packed with easter eggs. Loved the movie, it made me cry but you know... it's Disney.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)