With a couple of horror and drama movies under my belt, I decided to go back to my younger years and take on one of the newest animated films to come out of the legendary animation studio, Pixar, which tells the story of swords, magic and family.
“Onward” is directed by Dan Scanlon and stars Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer. This film tells the story of two brothers going on a quest to find a jewel to help them contact their father who passed away before the youngest was born. From the Thursday previews alone, the film gained $2 million, and industry experts say the box office could reach up to $45 million.
Of course with a Pixar movie, there is going to be great animation from the Pixar Animation Studios and amazing writing from Dan Scanlon and his team of writers. The animation in “Onward” is so crisp and clean and has continued to impress me since the early days of animation with “Toy Story.”
There is a scene where the main characters are floating along a river, and the water physics are so realistic to the point where I’m convinced that it is a live video of water. Not only that, there are the imperfections in every surface or object; whether it be a magic staff or a countertop, you can clearly see the scratches and little divots from years of wear and tear.
With Pixar being such a practitioner of animated-realism filmmaking, it surprised audiences to see a fantasy-based film with dragons, fairies, etc. Though it can be a throw-off, this is evidence that animators and screenwriters are becoming more diverse in their craft and hopefully we will be able to see more of this kind of story in the future with the animation company.
For a movie with a completely imaginary world and characters, this film is actually the basis of a true story from the director, Dan Scanlon. In his life, Scanlon didn’t know his father other than a record of his father saying the words “hello” and “bye.” He had always wondered who his father was and that question became the blueprint for the movie as well as the relationship he had with his brother.
Though his father was out of the picture, Scanlon credits a lot of his lessons to his brother who helped him become who he is today, and that is how the story and hidden message of “Onward” was born.
Though this movie is labeled as a family movie, it should be labeled as a sibling movie with its strong message of how older siblings can just as well be parents on their own. By the end of the film, you have gone through the journey with the main character, Ian, and his attempt to just have one day with his father, but it is then that he realizes that his brother, Barley, has been there for him his entire life doing the things he had wanted to do with his father.
This is the message Pixar is trying to show us: siblings can just as well be parents in their own right; as long as you have a brother or sister with you, they will love you more than any parent could.
After the film, I found myself calling my brothers and sisters and just talking to them about when I was a kid and how life was back then. This is what animation films from Pixar do: they make you look at your life and appreciate what you have been given, whether it be family, friends or your toys. For “Coco,” it was loving the family you have and persuing the family you never met; for “Inside Out,” it was understanding that it is okay to be sad sometimes. These are all lessons we need to learn in life, whether or not it makes us cry, because that’s how life is, a series of sad moments that lead to happiness.
Overall, this film will make you cry and want to reconnect with family, like all Pixar movies in the past. Definitely grab a ticket and take your siblings and/or best friends to connect over a story of two brothers coming together to reconnect. With Pixar’s newest film “Soul” set to release in the summer, I can firmly say my family and I will already have seats reserved and ready for whatever hidden message the studio has for us this time.