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Film Review: “Onward” (2020) ★★★★


There is no child, no matter the age, who can take lightly the loss of a beloved parent whether that parent died before his or her birth or shortly after. There’s always a little connection that remains between the two that eventually will influence the life of its successor one way or another.

“Onward” follows two elven brothers, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt), who get a message from their deceased dad containing a special task – they can bring him back for one day so he could witness the growth of his children. While it sounds fantastic, there is one problem; there is no magic existing in their realm and what Ian and Barley want to achieve is an impossible task. But having each other’s back, the Lightfoot siblings embark on an incredible journey to fulfill their father’s wish and have him back even if it’s just for one day only.

Ian just turned 16th. He is shy, lacks self-confidence, unable to maintain a dialogue with his classmates, and frankly, not too fond of himself. He, in fact, creates a list of achievements that he aspires to accomplish on the day of his birthday – to get a driver’s license, learn to speak up, be confident, and invite friends to a party. But once one task fails after another, his mother, Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) decides to encourage him by giving him a special gift from his dad who he never met. Barley, on the other hand, is funny, intelligent but a bit goofy. He does not push himself hard, takes things easy and, as a matter of fact, enjoys his life to the fullest. More importantly, he has knowledge of magic that his brother does not know about.

It was revealed then when Ian completes his father’s task partially, that he possesses a magical power one thought was lost. This is when the two decide to find the special stone that should help them to have their father back even if it’s just for a minute. They know that their journey will be full of danger and uncertainty. They know there is a big chance of failing but Ian and Barley’s fearless attitude and the right state of mind allows them to ignore all the obstacles and move only onward.

The original story by Dan Scanlon, Keith Bunin, and Jason Headley directed by Dan Scanlon, “Onward” is an excellent and heart-warming animated drama that gives what it needs for the family to enjoy their movie night. It’s educational, wicked, intelligent, and entertaining. It has the right amount of humor, a bit of bitterness, and a compelling story we need to hear much more often. As it’s about two brothers who try to rely on the dead to bring them together, in reality, Ian and Barley have no idea that what they needed was always by their side. All that they needed is their father to remind them once again – those who are gone are not forgotten but the one we have next to us may be, if we take their presence for granted.

That said, “Onward” is a highly recommended animated film. It is never boring, has excellent action scenes, and lots of magic to please children. However, let’s not forget that there is no bigger child than adults themselves who will enjoy “Onward” more than kids.

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