ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

For One Day With Dad: Onward

Updated on August 16, 2020
Source

Synopsis

The Lightfoot brothers are polar opposites of one another. Older brother Barley is an elf that would rather play magic games than make any effort to practice that his late father knew to some extent. Younger brother Ian is a quiet high school student who prefers to keep to himself. A surprise on Ian's sixteenth birthday brings the brothers together in Onward. On that day, their mother, Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) shows her boys a staff that belonged to her husband Wilden (Kyle Bornheimer), as well as a scroll with a spell Wil had written that, if successful, would bring him back to life for one day. Also included is one phoenix stone, which is essential for resurrecting him. Barley recites the spell without success, but when Ian tries, he brings back the bottom half of Wil. They then set out in search of another one of the rare gem.

Barley, knowing his game is based on actual spells, knows a place where they can get a map that will lead to another phoenix stone. The map is held by a creature known as The Manticore (Octavia Spencer), a former warrior who now owns a restaurant and is known simply as Corey. She sells them a souvenir map, not realizing the boys thought they were getting a genuine article. Laurel sees a note from the boys and pursues. She enlists the aid of Corey and Laurel's centaur boyfriend, Colt Bronco (Mel Rodriguez) in an effort to get Barley and Ian safely home. Meanwhile, Ian tries other spells that don't all that work well while eluding angry pixie bikers, the police, and Laurel and Corey as they want to finish what they started.

Evaluation

Onward is, as of this writing, the last movie I was able to see in a theater before the COVID pandemic forced the cinemas to close. Even then, most people stayed away as concerns about the virus started to shut down the world we knew in early 2020. The movie itself is a pleasant and predictable adventure from director and co-writer Dan Scanlon, whose previous outing as director occurred with the 2013 film Monsters University. In Onward, Barley takes the lead on the adventure, though Ian wants to have a memory of seeing his dad - and not as half a man. Because each has a different type of knowledge, the boys must work together as they seek a second gem. While Scanlon has a different take on death, he does not handle the topic as well as either Up or Coco did. Without a voice, Wil has to communicate with his feet, but creates more moments of comedy than poignancy. I also found it odd that a studio like Pixar would bookend their movie with talk of magic falling out of favor as technology becomes more important in the world where the Lightfoots live. Fans would contend that magic and technology have worked together very well throughout Pixar history, including here.

The best part of the movie is the chemistry between Pratt and Holland in the leads. Barley is a good-hearted slacker who'd like Ian to make the effort to enjoy the good things that can happen as he grows into a young man. Barley can't be accused of being a good role model, with issues that include a glove compartment full of traffic tickets. This older brother compensates with a generous spirit and plans that advance their journey. Ian is a timid teen who can't find the right way to invite classmates to his birthday party, so he simply drops the matter. He talks to a recording of his dad as if the two were conversing. He does persevere with the magic, though, even though he accidentally shrinks Barley at one point. Barley's encouragement also helps him to emerge from his social shell. Spencer is fun as an entrepreneur who rediscovers her inner warrior. Rodriguez creates some laughs as Colt, the corny adult who tries too hard to connect with Barley and Ian. Louis-Dreyfus is fine as Laurel, but she shouldn't have been given the movie's straight role. Tracey Ullman has an amusing cameo as a pawn shop owner, and John Ratzenberger lends his voice to Fenwick, a construction worker whose job potentially interferes with the quest.

Conclusion

Life doesn't usually bring outcomes that people want. People just deal with the situations that come their way as best they can. Ian and Barley have gone though their young lives with only one parent and one adult who understands little about parenting. Onward is not Pixar at its best because it is decidedly formulaic. It's a satisfactory trip from Point A to Point B, but the magic that happens during the trip isn't as special as the bond that two brothers build that transcend either elfin magic or modern technology.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Onward three stars. A unique reunion.

Onward trailer

© 2020 Pat Mills

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Mills 

      10 months ago from East Chicago, Indiana

      Thanks Mel. Pixar has had a long streak of good films. The only exception to that is Cars 2. Soul, the next Pixar effort. was delayed because of the pandemic.

      I'm glad AMC and other movie chains have reopened, and I'm sure Tenet will bring the crowds. I hope the reviewers will be just as excited as I am to get back to current re;eases.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      10 months ago from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado

      Pixar movies are great for adults and children alike. I was sitting in front of an open movie theater yesterday, not ready to go in myself but pleased that things are gradually getting back to normal.

      Hope to see a flood of critiques out of the review mill here. Great work pointing out the subtle flaws in this one. Yeah, why would you give Elaine from Seinfeld the straight role?

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)