Onward Movie Review: Interesting Bromantic Adventure

Updated: 05 March, 2020 13:54 IST | Johnson Thomas | Mumbai

While Onward may not be exceptional in its craft or amiability, its familiar overtures accumulate into a feel-good family outing.

A still from Onward. Picture courtesy/YouTube
A still from Onward. Picture courtesy/YouTube

U/A: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Cast (Voices): Chris Pratt, Tom Holland, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Mel Rodriguez, Ali Wong, Lena Waithe, Grey Griffin, Tracey Ullman, Wilmer Valderrama, Kyle Bornheimer, John Ratzenberger
Director: Dan Scanlon

Pixar's outstanding body of animation cinema gets yet another competent addition in Onward. The ingenious storytelling, eye-pleasing animation, fascinating imagination and enchanting wit are by now familiar beats in an emotionally rich tapestry of wonder and adventure. And as is often seen in Pixar's bountiful offerings, the themes of family, love, bonding, self-awareness and personal growth are the over-riding themes which touch the hearts of the young and old alike.

While Onward may not be exceptional in its craft or amiability, its familiar overtures accumulate into a feel-good family outing.

Watch the Onward Trailer:

The story of two elf brothers Barley and Ian (voiced by Chris Pratt and Tom Holland respectively) discovering a magic gift left to them by their dear departed father and using it to resurrect his presence for a single day, is seeped in sentiment and easily taps into a range of emotions. Ian has just turned a shy, introverted 16 while his lovable goon of an older brother Barley keeps himself busy goofing and gaffing through his gap year. Their father Wilden (Kyle Bornheimer) passed away before Ian was born, so Ian clings to Barley's few memories of him while his mother Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) the compassionate, strong and supportive type, tries her best to get him out of his reserved attitude.

The setting is a suburban fantasy world populated by elves, mermaids, orcs, cyclops, dragons, centaurs, trolls and sprites. The opening sequence is amusing, with unicorns scavenging through suburban trash – obviously signalling a time where magic has been misplaced by unchecked development and modern technology.

Production designer Noah Klocek deploys the new Mushroomton suburbia and cities full of skyscrapers mimicking fairy tale castles with a mashed-up display of reality and fantasy. It's a look that feels imaginative but fails to look vivid enough or deliver vivacity or colour to the rambling storyline here. The story was apparently inspired by director and co-writer Dan Scanlon's relationship with his older brother and their shared yearning for knowledge of their father, who like in Onward, died when the director was just a wee child.

The assortment of mildly interesting characters that cross quite an enviable spectrum add little to the willy-nilly narrative that stretches thin as it moves towards an endplay that has Ian coming of age with the self-realisation that stems from an appreciation of his older brother’s role in his own upbringing. The wonder may be diminished considerably but Pixar still manages to hold its head high in terms of mechanics, skill and congeniality!

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First Published: 05 March, 2020 12:45 IST

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