Coming to theatres this Friday from writer/director Dan Scanlon, Pixar and Disney comes the story of family and the fight to always move ONWARD.
Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) is turning 16 and older brother Barley (Chris Pratt) and Mom Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) aren’t about to let him forget it. Trying to find ways to make the day fun, what they don’t know is that all Ian really wants is his Dad, Wilden, who passed years earlier.
You see, Ian is more the quiet and shy of the two elf brothers whereas Barley is outgoing and loves to play a game that is based on the folklore of their unusual town. Trying to be more outgoing, Ian decides to ask some of his classmates over for cake to celebrate his birthday, but Barley has other ideas.
To cheer Ian up a little, Mom gives her sons a gift left to them by their father. It is a staff and instructions on how to bring Dad back for 24 hours. Barley tries and tries but can not seem to make it happen. When Ian is alone, he picks up the staff and it takes no time for magic to happen. Barley walks in and sees what is happening and realizes baby bro has the magic calling.
He explains that once all of the people of their town had abilities and magic of some kind, but they forgot it all after time. Ian tries again to bring their Dad back with only half of the result they expected when the crystal breaks. Barley explains that they must go on a quest to find another stone and gets Ian to jump inside the van he lovingly calls Guinevere.
There first stop is to find the Manticore (Octavia Spencer) who has a map they need. Not to far behind them is Laurel who believes her sons are in danger and asks boyfriend Officer Bronco (Mel Rodriguez) to join the search. But nothing is going to stop Barley from getting Ian to the gem that will help Ian get his birthday wish.
Holland as Ian is such a sweet young man who believes that a moment with the Dad he didn’t get a chance to know would mean everything to him. It would also be a chance to see what everyone else seemed to know, that his Dad was a good man. Lending his voice, Holland is endearing in his insecurity and has moments of boldness that make you want to cheer.
Pratt as Barley is the fun loving, not afraid of anything and smarter than he knows older brother. He adores Ian and always wants him to be happy and will do anything to make that happen. Seeing that Ian sometimes needs a boost, Barley is there and has answers that might not always seem right but turn out just the same. I love Pratt’s voice in Barley!
Louis-Dreyfus as Mom Laurel is keeping their family together and loves her boys. I’d like to think she secretly hoped to see her husband as much as the boys wanted to see their Dad. I give her points for moving on with her life in the form of Colt Bronco voiced by Mel Rodriguez.
Spencer as The Manticore is hilarious in the way her life has gone from a warrior to serving chicken wings. Given the chance to be useful once again in the warrior she was born to be, I like the change (minus the caffeine of course) and loads of moxy. Shout out to Grey Griffin as Dewdrop, the leader of the Pixie’s because she is tough, doesn’t take any guff and I’d fly with her anytime, if I could. Prepare to giggle a lot with the flying group of pixies!
Other cast include Ali Wong as Officer Gore, Tracey Ullman as Grecklin, Lena Waithe as Officer Spector, Wilmer Valderrama as Gaxton, George Psarras as Officer Avel, Kyle Bornheimer as Wilden Lightfoot and John Ratzenberger as the Construction Worker.
ONWARD is a triumph for Pixar and Disney for its amazing story, fantastic animation and cast that lends itself to every heartwarming, fun and silly moment. Holland and Pratt embrace their characters as brothers’, and it shows through their voices. Yes it is animated but their voices just give their characters such life and emotion.
Recently on Kimmel, Pratt says, “What is so moving to me is that director Dan Scanlon went through this same storyline with his own brother. This is a love letter to his older brother, and it chokes me up to think about it. Just like UP and any of the other Pixar movies, it is full of action, love and very emotional”.
He is absolutely right as ONWARD is not just a journey of two elf brothers on a quest in a boss van called Guinevere, it is a story of what they learn about each other. Their bond as brothers is questioned, yelled about, misunderstood and a reason for celebration. It is the story of big brother versus little brother, about family memories, the sadness of losing a parent, the insecurities of just being a teenager and discovering that their world is bigger than they could ever have imagined.
There are silly moments, fun characters and a dog-dragon that I would love to have running around my house! Pixar has once again brought characters that are going to stay with us because, no matter how pointy their ears or blue their hair – they are us when it comes to family and the story’s we all share.
I’m keeping this as spoiler free as possible because this is going to be such a joy for family’s that I want everyone to experience it all. For me and my family…. you had us at ONWARD.
In the end – the quest is bigger than either of them can imagine!