'Onward' May Be Pixar's Most Personal Film To Date, But It's Not Their Strongest
By Sal LoCicero | April 7, 2020
For 25 years, Pixar has made some unforgettable achievements in the film industry; going all the way back to 1995 with their first animated feature Toy Story. Pixar has also made films such as Toy Story 3, Up, Monster's Inc, Inside Out, WALL-E, Coco, and Finding Nemo, which have all been just as successful critically and financially. While Pixar has made a tremendous amount of work over the years, they haven't done all of it without a couple missteps along the way.
While ringing in a new decade, Pixar released their first feature of 2020; Onward. Onward is the newest film from Pixar directed by Dan Scanlon; known for his directorial debut with Monster's University (2013). With Onward, Scanlon stills proves that he is a very talented filmmaker who has something to offer. In this film, he also shows us that this movie is very personal to him, since it's based on Scanlon's personal life about his own father. With that said, within the first few minutes you can tell that this is Pixar's most personal project yet and that is what really keeps this movie going.
Another aspect that really helps Onward a lot is the chemistry between the two main characters in the film, Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt). Both Holland and Pratt do a great job with their performance. Ian Lightfoot is the most redeeming character of the whole film, he's really the true lead. His character feels very real and almost relatable; opposite of his older brother Barley. While Ian and Barley share good chemistry together, the character of Barley for the majority is the comedic side character. One really strong aspect here is the animation. It's remarkable how much detail is put into this film.
Pixar has made a lot of phenomenal films and one thing that makes some of their work as significant as they are, is the magic and especially spark that is included. The biggest problem with Onward is that while it does offer magic (literally), it misses that spark that most Pixar films possess. The part to every Pixar movie that helps each film hold up as well as they do is that spark that is given to them, which is not present in Onward. Due to that, the movie will probably move towards one of Pixar's missteps for some.
The last act is probably one of the best parts of the movie. Onward is movie that is about fathers and sons, while smoothly fitting the subplot of brotherhood in it too. The film's ending is actually the most mature ending from Pixar that you'll ever see. The writing for that last act was really incredible, and the ending might be something that younger audiences won't appreciate that mature audiences will.
Onward is a film that unlike most of Pixar's work, both kids and adults will enjoy. But it will not be able to withstand other films like Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Up that will stand the test of time.