Review: Disney/Pixar’s ONWARD Is A Movie For Brothers


ONWARD's plot is a fairly conventional quest story, but its characters and its worldbuilding are what makes it a movie worth seeing, especially for brothers.
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Disney/Pixar’s Onward is out March 6th, and after you see it, you’ll be calling your brother to tell him how much you love him.

Directed by Dan Scanlon (Monsters University), the movie stars Chris Pratt and Tom Holland as Barley and Ian Lightfoot, two elf brothers living in a world which once held magic, but has now evolved into a more mundane world much like our own. On Ian’s birthday, the brothers receive a gift from their long-deceased father: a spell that will bring him back for 24 hours. But when the spell goes awry, the boys must embark on a quest to complete the magic before time runs out and they lose the chance to meet their dad forever.

As far as quest stories go, Onward‘s is pretty by-the-book. You have your call to adventure, your MacGuffin…all the usual suspects are lined up. There’s not much here that will surprise a fantasy veteran (or a Pixar one, for that matter).

onward disney pixar review

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However, what the movie lacks in an original story, it more than makes up for in worldbuilding and characters.

The world of Onward is rich in imagination. It’s so interesting seeing all of these fantasy tropes mashed up with our own reality. It’s funny seeing what would become of an old “scum and villainy” tavern in modern times. The set design is top-notch, too. This is a movie that you’ll watch at home and pause every 30 seconds to catch all of the background gags. I would easily watch another movie (or a Disney+ series) set in this world; the possibilities are endless.

And Onward‘s characters are equally rich in personality. Ian and Barley’s relationship feels genuine. Their love and affection for one another is palpable, but their brotherhood isn’t without the tension that you’d expect if you grew up with siblings. There are a ton of little characters moments – some of which happen in the blink of an eye – that will make you laugh, make you cheer, and just generally tug on your heartstrings, and I say again, especially if you have siblings.

onward disney pixar review

Because that’s what Onward is about: family, and brotherhood in particular. It’s about stressing each other out, embarrassing each other, and ultimately having each other’s back. And hey, if you aren’t a brother yourself, or you don’t have a brother, you’ll still find plenty to enjoy in this flick, because it’s an overall fun time.

Also it goes without saying but the animation quality is just absolutely incredible. Every time you think Pixar has topped out, they somehow get even better.

So grab your sibling if you have one, and go check out Onward when it hits theaters.

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Anthony Composto
Editor-in-Chief for Monkeys Fighting Robots. A lifelong fan of Spider-Man and the Mets, Anthony loves an underdog story. He earned his B.A. in English because of his love for words, and his MBA because of his need for cash. He considers comics to be The Great American Art Form, and loves horror movies, indie dramas, action/thrillers, and everything in between.


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