Saturday, April 18, 2020

Movie Review: “Onward”

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG
Run time: 1 hour 42 minutes

Do your kids (or yourself) need a break from social distance learning? Or maybe a suggestion for the fourth or fifth family movie night this week? “Onward” is a decent family movie with messages about believing in yourself, overcoming fear(s) and the importance of family.

It starts ‘Long ago the world was full of wonder. There was magic, which was hard to master, and the world found a simpler way to get by. Over time, the magic faded away.’

Ian Lightfoot, (Tom Holland), an elf, is turning 16. He and his older brother, Barley, (Chris Pratt) lost their father an undetermined amount of time ago. Ian and his brother are polar opposites: Barley has no fear and Ian is afraid of a lot of things.

While out in public, Ian meets a guy who tells him how great his dad was and how sorry he was to hear about his passing. After meeting this guy, Ian makes a list entitled ‘New Me’ to try to step out of his comfort zone. The final item on his list is ‘be more like Dad.’

He starts by inviting some classmates of his to his birthday party but retracts their invitation when he embarrasses himself.

Ian’s mom, Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) gives both her sons a gift from their father; a magic wand with a spell that can bring him back for only 24 hours. The spell doesn’t work – then it kind of does, leaving only a portion of their dad. They need a phoenix gem to complete the spell. Barley and Ian go on a quest to finish the spell, find the gem and get to spend some time with their dad.

Once Laurel learns what they are doing she goes after them.

Along their way, Barley and Ian meet the Manticore (Octavia Spencer) a mythical Persian legendary creature.

Barley’s van, Guinevere, runs out of gas and the two get into a bit of trouble. Barley helps his brother conquer some of his fears about driving. At one point they cross an invisible bridge and after being chased by the police, reach what they thought is their destination, but they are right back where they started.

Will they find the gem and get to meet their dad before the 24 hours is up?

With an all-star cast, this movie is another Pixar homerun. Toward the end, they really keep you guessing as to whether Ian or Barley are going to see their dad. The end result is not what I thought it was going to be. This was a funny, heartwarming movie that works on a level for both kids and adults, though it’s not as good as “Toy Story” or “Monsters, Inc.” I’d recommend this movie. Two magic wands up.

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