REVIEW: ‘Onward’ wasn’t perfect but had its moments

Movie is now available on demand from home


Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt) contemplate the quest ahead of them in Pixar’s latest film, ‘Onward.’ Opinion writer Jordan Parker writes about where the new Pixar film falls short. Photo courtesy of Disney/Pixar

Jordan Parker

Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers for Pixar’s “Onward”

Directed by Dan Scanlon, Pixar’s “Onward” marks the franchise’s first steps into the world of wizardry.

When I first saw the trailer, I was of the notion that I wasn’t going to see this movie. But, when I was given the opportunity to attend the advanced screening and being a huge Pixar fan, I figured it was worth a watch.

In the city of Mushtroomtown, Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) is a 16-year-old who deeply misses his late father. Ian is your typical, awkward teenager who seems mature and dislikes his home life.  His brother Barley (Christ Pratt) is an outgoing, heavy metal artist with a van, “Guinevere,” which rocks a unicorn on its side.

Their mom, Laurel Lightfoot (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) clearly has her hands full as a single parent of two reckless boys.

On Ian’s 16th birthday, his mom reveals that she had a special gift for the Lightfoot boys that their Dad left to them before he died. When they open their gift, they find a magic staff and a spell that would bring their dad back for 24 hours.

However, the spell goes wrong and only brings back half of their dad and the brothers are sent on the quest of a lifetime to find the rare “phoenix stone” that will give them the power to complete the spell.

Story continues below video

The first stop on this quest takes Ian and Barley to the footstep of a magical tavern run by a fearless manticore, named Cory (Octavia Spencer).

Turns out that this “magical tavern” is a poor man’s Chuck E. Cheese and Cory is not as fearless as they heard.

From there, the brothers set forth on a magical path that will lead them to the elusive phoenix stone they seek. As they race against time, they are chased down by a centaur police officer Colt Bronco, who also happens to be their stepdad.

As the 24-hour mark nears, you’re left on the edge of your seat about whether or not they will complete their quest, but you can find out the rest for yourself.

Kudos to lead cinematographer Sharon Calahan, who also worked on “Ratatouille,” “Finding Nemo,” “Toy Story 2,” and “The Good Dinosaur.” Her excellent pictures provide emotion that words didn’t need to describe.

It was also amazing to see Disney finally introduce a lesbian character in the form of the cyclops police officer, Specter (Lena Waithe). It seems as if in years past Disney has been a little bit behind the curve when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation, so this character is a step in the right direction.

Although the movie was enjoyable and even comedic at points, it wasn’t without its issues. The transition between the beginning when we were shown the magic of old times and then to the modern day American city with odd-mushroom houses is shaky.

Also, who thought of blue elves, mushroom houses, and wizardry? It might be the Smurfs, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings collaboration some of you have always been looking for but it certainly wasn’t my taste.

Throw in the animation and it all amounted to a bunch of unique elements on the screen that just don’t quite fit together. Simply put, this by far wasn’t Pixar’s best and didn’t give us any insight of what is to come in future films.