by Kim Regala, Staff Writer
On his sixteenth birthday, shy and unconfident Ian Lightfoot (voiced by Tom Holland) receives a gift that gives him the magical ability to bring his deceased father back to life for a day. Determined to do so, Ian casts the spell, but only succeeds at restoring half of his dad’s body. With his bold and adventurous brother Barley (voiced by Chris Pratt) keeping him company, the two must embark on the journey of a lifetime to bring back the rest of their dad with only 24 hours on the clock.
This is Onward, Pixar’s latest addition to their collection of tear-inducing films. Despite being a children’s movie, the film manages to capture a strong message regarding the changes in our technology-infused world. All the while, it maintains the same sentiments of family love and personal growth — a few staples in Pixar’s works that leave us in awe every time.
The story is set in a mythical world filled with magic. Mythical creatures, from centaurs to manticores, wandered all around with powerful capabilities — that is, until technology came into the picture and its efficiency replaced casting fire spells with flicking on light bulbs instead. While plenty of films explore the impact of technological advancements, Onward manages to do so in a way that is both lighthearted and impactful. Its likeable characters offer a sense of humour that make for an enjoyable viewing. All the while, the changes from these technological advancements are well played out and reflected onto the characters and their own surroundings.
While the message regarding technology is strong, perhaps the strongest sentiment in the film is its take on brotherly love and personal growth. The film revolves around Ian’s quest to bring his father — and all of his parts — back to life. The whole time, the story draws us towards Ian’s desire to have the bonding moments that he never got to experience with his father. However, through the journey, we witness the brothers’ relationship blossom as they face various challenges and obstacles. This becomes the main narrative of the film, as we watch the two grow closer from their experiences together. Speaking as someone with a sibling, I definitely resonated with many of the scenes where Ian and Barley created their own bonding moments.
Ian’s personal growth is also a captivating narrative, and one that appears subtly throughout the film. In the beginning, he is perceived as the weaker and less capable sibling, even by his mother. His older brother Barley, on the other hand, comes off as courageous and tough. As the film progresses, however, we are able to recognize the dynamic of these two characters and how they have managed to evolve both together and on their own.
While I don’t want to spoil the end, I can say that I felt quite teary-eyed at the film’s final moments. It truly holds a strong sentiment towards the value and importance of family, sibling love, and personal growth, and will likely leave you shedding a tear or two yourself.
With the recent closure of theatres across Canada, you can watch Onward on Disney+ starting April 3, 2020.