Tom Holland as the voice of Ian Lightfoot, and Chris Pratt as the voice of Barley in 'Onward'. (Disney/Pixar)
Tom Holland as the voice of Ian Lightfoot, and Chris Pratt as the voice of Barley in 'Onward'. (Disney/Pixar)


Two teenage elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, go on an journey to discover if there is still a little magic left out there in order to spend one last day with their father, who died when they were too young to remember him.


One thing you can always be sure of in Hollywood - a Pixar movie would always be a good one. Even their revivals of old classics (The Incredibles, Toy Story) are flawless hits, created by a studio where the heart directs the vision instead of money. But they are still only human and can’t hit it out of the park every time - and Onward is, unfortunately, one of their misses. There’s nothing exactly wrong with it - for any other studio it might have been good - but when compared with Pixar’s track record this feels almost like a flop. It takes a long time to get interesting; the suburban fantasy world isn’t as exciting as you thought it would be and, sadly, the Pixar-certified tears will never come.

Two elf brothers receive a magical gift from their long-dead father in a world where magic was replaced with easy technology, and they embark on a quest to see him one last time.

I didn’t exactly hate the movie - it just didn’t land where I thought it would have, especially in the emotional and laughter departments. The jokes were pretty placid, like ones you’ve heard too many times before from a dad trying too hard. They were so focused on the ‘hey it’s just like our world’ part of it and kind of forgot about the magic of it all.

In terms of emotional depth, it’s a bit sad that even though the script is based on director Dan Scanlon’s real-life story about losing his father, the movie just couldn’t find its way to my heart. The love-hate relationship between siblings is pretty universal, yet it lacked that heartfelt spark that you can’t miss in the Frozen franchise between the sisters. Scanlon was also the writer and director for Monsters University - another of Pixar’s less critically great films - so perhaps that’s where the problem with the whole movie lies.

And there are few things as obnoxious and annoying as those awful biker pixies - and not in a good way.

But what did I like? Tom Holland is always a delight to listen to, and while with animation it can be difficult to sustain chemistry between disembodied voices, he and Chris Pratt managed to speak to each other beyond that obstacle and truly felt like real-life brothers. I also loved that their mother - voiced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus - wasn’t just an absentee parent that let her children go off into danger without batting an eye. She has an adventure all by herself while trying to look out for her kids, and shows the real depth of a mother’s love.

Onward isn’t a bad movie - it’s just a forgettable one. Every fan has high expectations for any Pixar movie, and while they normally deliver with flying colours, this one will leave you underwhelmed and maybe even a little bored. Just like the world they created, it will be difficult to find the magic in this one.


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