REVIEW: Onward (No Spoilers)
Opening night at Onward was...relatively empty. I don't know if that is because it was 8pm on a Thursday in the heart New York City or if the movie doesn't have the draw of other Pixar films. Either way, I came into the film with an open mind hoping for the best.
The movie begins with a backstory of a fantasy world where magic was used for good, but through the development of modern convenience (electricity, automobiles, cell phones, etc) the use of magic was diminished and nearly forgotten. Cut to the introduction of Ian Lightfoot (voiced by Tom Holland) - a young, self-conscious elf whose dad passed away just before he was born. Ian's older brother Barley (voiced by Chris Pratt) is currently living at home during a "gap year" between high school and college. The brothers have been left a gift from their late father with the opportunity to bring him back for one day.
This movie is a slow burn. As the story picks up, it feels all-to familiar. Think Monsters University meets Shrek meets Lord of the Rings. There are moments of excitement, but even more moments of, well, boredom. Ian is an instantly lovable and relate-able character. Barley takes some warming up to. As a typical "epic quest" style movie we have seen time and time again, we witness the duo get into accidental antics with numerous mythical creatures including an abrasive biker-gang of 'roid-raged pixies. However, as the story resolved, I became glued to the screen. The last 20 minutes had me in tears (as an adult man alone in a movie theater). Disney and Pixar really know how to tug at your heart strings, and they definitely did not disappoint with Onward.
It is, also, important to note that this is the first animated film to feature an openly LGBTQ character with a cyclops named Officer Spector (voiced by Lena Waithe). It is a subtle one-liner, yet a substantial move in the right direction for equality. Go Disney!
Will this become a Disney/Pixar classic? I think not. Does it have heart? Absolutely. I feel this movie will end up in the ranks with Coco and Inside Out. These films are heart-warming with deep emotional symbolism, but they aren't necessarily movies you want to watch over and over. Overall, we definitely recommend seeing Onward and bringing a tissue.