Onward shines with fresh, coming-of-age story

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Photo by Kat Parra (screenshot)

In Pixar’s Onward, brothers Barley (left) and Ian (right) go on an adventurous journey to bring back their father.

Pixar’s new movie, Onward, follows the adventure of two brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, who go on a quest to find a stone that will cast a spell to bring back their deceased father for a day. The story takes place in a society where magic is lost and magical creatures are no different than us average humans.

Ian (voiced by Tom Holland) is an insecure, uncertain teenager who would give anything to meet his father for the first time. When presented with the opportunity on his 16th birthday, his brother, Barley (voiced by Chris Pratt) realizes that the gift their father had left behind is a wizard staff. With it, a spell that will bring back their father for one day. However, things go wrong when the spell falls short, leaving them with only the bottom half of their father.

Throughout the film, Ian is presented with challenges that make him face his fears. With the help of his brother Barley, Ian realizes that although he didn’t have a dad, he still had someone to always push him to strive to become a better version of himself.

Onward takes on an innovative approach to what a children’s movie can be. Rather than focusing on the common tropes and stereotypes, Onward features many taboo topics that Disney would normally stray away from. Whether it’s a sin- gle, middle-aged manticore (voiced by Octavia Spencer) who provides for herself, an insecure boy, an LGBTQ+ couple, a disabled ogre, sin- gle parents, deceased loved ones or step-parents, Disney and Pixar are working more towards the importance of representation.

The variety of different backgrounds allows a wider audience of both kids and adults to relate to the film. This is quite a large step for Disney, given that they are working towards a more inclusive depiction of society, rather than the black-and-white representation that the company is often criticized for. Furthermore, by introducing children to new ideas of what the world is, it shows children that different doesn’t necessarily mean bad.

Another feature especially present in Onward is that there is no definite “bad guy.” The issues presented in the film are often internal struggles that Barley and Ian face. This is important because most of the time, in the real world, people are going to face internal struggle much more often than an outside factor.

This film is special because it highlights the little bits of hope that we need today. While many parts of Onward are sincerely touching, there is also comedy and sadness associated with it too. The struggles of growing up and finding acceptance within our circumstances and ourselves are themes that we can all relate to during these times.

Pixar’s humorous yet touching Onward allows us to notice the magic and wonder that we have, and it brings a realistically flawed yet beautiful illustration of the world we live in.

This film does not disappoint and deserves much more praise than it had gotten prior to its release. Pixar’s Onward had an early digital release due to the lockdowns happening and is now available on Disney+.

The Cougar Chronicle: The independent student news site of California State University, San Marcos