Wow Peeps! Just wow.
It’s taken a while but we finally got to see Onward! It was on Disney + in the USA waaaay before it came here, then my daughter started college and I started my new job so we had no time to watch it until now, so I’m a bit late to the review party, but it is totally worth watching and writing about.
Okay full disclosure before I rant about how wonderful it is… I knew the main plot and ‘twist’ beforehand as I watched the Super Carlin Brothers’ review… go watch it if you want a good tug at the heartstrings… Ben (being a younger brother) talked about how the plot impacted him and made him appreciate J ❤
So, plot points (with spoilers)
Young Ian (Tom Holland) turns 16 (in a land that was once magical) and receives a gift of a magical staff to see his deceased father for a day. He and his older brother Barley (Chris Pratt) set out on a quest to see their dad one more time…. tear-jerker already.
SPOILER: (skip to next paragraph if you don’t want to know) They only bring half of dad back and their quest to get the other half back builds their relationship as brothers until Ian realises that he has had a ‘father figure’ all along; his big brother. ❤
Ian is a nerdy, socially awkward 16 year old (my daughter said that was relatable LOL). Barley has an insanely decorated old van (reminded me of Jack Black’s in School of Rock), he’s fearless and a total D&D-style geek about the old magic….I LOVE IT! Also, voiced by the lovely Chris Pratt… bonus! ❤
For what is essentially a brotherly love plotline, there are some brilliant female characters in this!
First and foremost, their mum is amazing! Laurel is a single mum raising 2 teenaged boys; she enforces rules, is open and honest with them, has fun with them and embarrasses them….. all while showing self-care and holding down a relationship with Officer Bronco. Well done Pixar, that’s some smart female representation, she’s awesome! For those of you who like the Easter eggs and trivia, she is voiced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus who voiced Princess Atta in A Bug’s Life….22 years ago!! (Anyone else feel old?)
Next is the Manticore (which the history-nerd daughter informs me is an actual thing from Persian/Egyptian/Greek mythology). She was also amazing! (Like a bad-ass version of the lion in Care-Bears.) She was a strong female who had lost her spark from being in an unfulfilling job, but totally got it back to help out young protagonists. She is voiced by the fabulous Octavia Spencer, who has an amazing IMDB page: For example, she is currently playing Grandma in the new Witches movie and for my Easter egg hunters, she was also in the first Toby Maguire Spiderman film (I wonder how Tom Holland feels about that?)
It also gave us a wicked ‘mums road trip’ vibe when her and Laurel go to rescue them. The climactic battle shows them both to be total legends and the lengths a mum will go to for their kids… Laurel seriously even out-does Molly Weasley in the ‘bad-ass mum’ stakes.
While we’re on the subject of female representation, there is a scene where nice-but-dim step-dad Officer Bronco is being imitated by the boys and 2 female officers have a heart-to-heart about coping with teenagers and step-parenting. One of these officers mentions how hard it was for her to build a relationship with her girlfriend’s kid; I’m impressed with both the acceptance/portrayal of LGBT+ characters and the fact that they dealt with a really tough aspect of blended families. She was much more than a ‘token character’ some companies use for representation too; she was the smart cop who figured out it was the boys in disguise.
Another point of representation is that all these magical characters are different colours; no one comments on race/breed/species- nobody is looked down upon, no-one is segregated or given a stereotype they are treated as individuals…. well done Pixar, well done.
There are a lot of deep messages in this film beyond the excellent inclusivity. There are obvious ones about family bonds and appreciating what you have, but there are also themes of self-worth and achieving your dreams. Their quest doesn’t go as planned but it does allow young Ian to become himself and be comfortable with it. The reason the magic disappeared in the first place is because of convenience and reliance on technology… by the end our characters have built a bit of magic back into their modern lives…what a great message.
On a lighter note… we want a pet dragon! Blazey is adorable and smaller than our dog, so we could totally make it work! ❤
While we’re talking about dragons, (slight SPOILER btw) the one in the battle scene having a cute face from a billboard and a school bell as a roar is just genius! 🙂 Love the concepts soooooooooooooooo much, especially after the emotional scene before ❤
As a final thought, the equally genius idea of unicorns as some raccoon/street cat-style scroungers is the funniest thing in the whole film! I work in a school with a high percentage of young unicorn-obsessed girls, so I particularly enjoyed having a laugh at the unicorns because the things can try my patience on occasion.
Overall a brilliant Pixar film: Brilliant animation, concept, execution. Excellent morals and ethics, relatable and inclusive…. really can’t fault it. 10/10 Pixar… awesome job!
Have a good one!