Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Onward * Easily One of Our Favorite Pixar Films. Touching Story, Fun, Exciting, Adventurous!

Set in a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers embark on a quest to discover if there is still magic out there. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “As of now, this film is easily one of my favorite Pixar films. I adore the touching story and especially the world building. Overall, Onward is an amazing film.” Zoe C. adds, “Onward is fun, exiting, adventurous, and an emotional roller coaster. Pixar delivers another wonderful film that is very appealing to new generations and easy to relate, despite characters from another world.” Jolleen M. contributes, “I loved every bit of this movie so much that I cannot pick one part as my favorite. The film induces such a wide range of emotions. Tears of joy, as well as sympathy were shed, because of all the beautiful moments. Ian and Barley have a sweet relationship from the beginning, but the way that their relationship as brothers develops is wonderful to watch.” Will C. says, “The animators have created a beautiful imaginative world with lots of clever details that will make you want to watch again and again. The voice acting is top notch, with Tom Holland and Chris Pratt showing a range of emotions and humor as Ian and Barley. Octavia Spencer as Manticore brings her character to life with frantic energy.” And Katherine S. wraps it up with, “The messages of this movie are that family is the most important thing and sometimes what you’re looking for has been with you the whole time. This film does have some magical scenes that kids should not imitate. It also reminds us to always pay your parking tickets.” See their full reviews below.

Onward
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

As of now, this film is easily one of my favorite Pixar films. I adore the touching story and especially the world building. Overall, Onward is an amazing film. Onward takes in a world much like our own, except it’s populated with fantasy creatures. We follow two elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot as they discover magic still exists and thus go on a quest to revive their father for one day.

So, first the animation. I feel like this is pretty self-explanatory. Since it is Pixar, the animation is absolutely outstanding. But, I specifically want to discuss the world in which Onward takes place. There are so many creative and diverse character designs and representations of mythological creatures (which I appreciate as a mythology fan). The world building is probably some of the best I’ve ever seen. I have contemplated the idea of a suburban fantasy, so I’m really happy seeing that idea brought to life. There’s a lot of really funny gags surrounding this idea, such as an historically accurate “Dungeons and Dragons” and unicorns becoming the equivalent of raccoons. You can tell the artists really enjoyed designing the settings.

However, the world is not the only enjoyable aspect of this film. The characters are especially fun. The two brothers, Ian and Barley, have amazing chemistry. This is probably thanks to their voices actors – Tom Holland playing Ian and Chris Pratt playing Barley. They already have a connection from the Marvel movies, so their relationship feels real. But Ian and Barley aren’t the only great characters in this movie. I would say my personal favorite character is The Manticore, played by Octavia Spencer. The Manticore is probably the funniest character and I really like her friendship with the brothers’ mom, Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus).

Speaking of which, Onward is really funny. There’s a specific scene involving The Manticore that caused me to laugh probably the hardest I’ve ever laughed at a Pixar movie. There are also a lot of gags involving the fact that the world is populated with fantasy creatures.

And as expected from a Pixar film, it’s pretty emotional. And, given the context of the plot, I feel this might be one of Pixar’s most heart wrenching films. When you think about it, who wouldn’t want to bring someone back, even for one day?

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18. It comes out on March 6, 2020 so look for it.  

Onward
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Onward is fun, exiting, adventurous, and an emotional roller coaster. Pixar delivers another wonderful film that is very appealing to new generations and easy to relate, despite characters from another world.

Onward is a computer animated, urban fantasy film directed by Dan Scanlon, who also co-wrote the script with Jason Headley and Keith Bunin. The story follows brothers Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt), two teenage elf’s who embark on an extraordinary quest. Their goal is to try and see if there is magic left in the world, in order to spend one last day with their father, who died when they were younger. This is a story about bonding between father and son, and between two brothers.

(Zoe’s interview with Carlos Felipe Leon, shading art director, in Spanish)

Tom Holland, as Ian, the younger of the two brothers delivers a very subtle, but engaging interpretation that makes the audience immediately connect with his loner behavior. Chris Pratt, as Barley, the eldest brother, is vibrant, optimistic and his personality is almost opposite to his younger brother. Octavia Spencer plays Manticore, a fearless creature who can fly and sends people on quests). I absolutely love Octavia’s performance and Manticore is my favorite character. I’ve always loved Octavia as an actress, so I was really exited that she voices this character. Another great voice is Laurel, the brother’s mother, by super fun and charismatic Julia Louise-Dreyfus.

The animation in this movie is very detailed and sometimes photo realistic. Pixar has developed digital animation over the years to a fine art, and truly this film displays that. You can see so many details in the characters’ facial expressions. If you look very closely you can see that the elves all have freckles! There is also a lot of emotion in this movie and the animation displays it so well.

I’m pretty sure everyone who watches this movie will cry at one point. I sure did. One of the fascinating aspects of Onward is how these fantasy creatures interact with each other and go through a journey of redemption and self discovery.

Onward is entertaining all the way, but some jokes don’t work out and, at some point, it’s a little hard to feel fully invested in one of the characters that appears only from his waist to his feet.

The message of this film is – believe. The magic in the film is a metaphor for our own ability of make things happen and letting out the light within ourselves.

I give Onward 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 13. Make sure to check out Onward in theaters on March 6, 2020.

Onward
By Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Onward has an amazing plot with lots of humor. The whole theater was laughing so much throughout, but there were also so many other emotions. Watching the film was an amazing rollercoaster and I learned a lot from it.

The film takes place in a fantasy world where many different species of creatures live. It follows the journey of two elves who are brothers, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt). Ian is a shy, cautious person, while his older brother Barley is fearless and obsessed with quests and adventure. After Ian turns 16, their mother reveals a gift that their late father left for them. Their father died before Ian was born and Barley only has four memories of him. The gift includes a magical staff and a spell that will bring back their father for a day, so that he can see what his boys grew up to be. Ian manages to start the spell, but he is only able to resurrect the lower half of his father’s body before the crystal in the staff breaks. To be able to meet his father is everything to Ian, so along with Barley they go to find another crystal and bring the rest of their father back. 

Tom Holland and Chris Pratt have worked with each other before on other films, so they have a close relationship. You can see this when they voice Ian and Barley. It makes the film more enjoyable to watch, because they have such good chemistry. The animation is full of vibrant colors and magic. The creatures are all unique and have distinct personalities. The entire film is unique and filled with creative ideas, which pleasantly surprises the audience.

I loved every bit of this movie so much that I cannot pick one part as my favorite. The film induces such a wide range of emotions. Tears of joy, as well as sympathy were shed, because of all the beautiful moments. Ian and Barley have a sweet relationship from the beginning, but the way that their relationship as brothers develops is wonderful to watch.

There are so many lessons and messages that you could take away, but the most prominent one is about being grateful for what you have. Ian was always so focused on the fact that he was never able to meet his father that he looked past the things that he did have. Fortunately, he is able to realize that he’s had his brother Barley all his life, before it is too late.

Onward is such a well made and creative movie that kept me intrigued the entire time. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. It comes out in theaters March 6, 2020 so be sure to go and watch it!

Onward
By Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Onward is Disney/Pixar’s new action-packed animated movie with lots of magical laughs! There’s hilarious physical humor, exciting chases and fights, but it’s also a very moving film. You really feel the main characters’ sense of loss at not growing up with their father.

Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt) are teenage elf brothers who live in a suburban mushroom house in a land that was formerly full of magic. They use a spell to bring their dad back to life, but only get his bottom half! They have 24 hours to complete a quest to finish the spell and see him one more time. All they need to finish the spell is the Phoenix gem, but finding it proves a lot more complicated than they first think. While they are working to bring him back, they have to bring their dad’s legs and feet along with them for the ride.

The animators have created a beautiful imaginative world with lots of clever details that will make you want to watch again and again. The voice acting is top notch, with Tom Holland and Chris Pratt showing a range of emotions and humor as Ian and Barley. Octavia Spencer as Manticore brings her character to life with frantic energy. The introduction of her character is hilarious! She’s a former magical adventurer turned family restaurant owner. I really like the part when Barley shrinks down to a tiny size due to Ian messing up a spell. I also like when Ian turns their boat into a cheese puff so they can eat their own transportation! I love Officer Colt and his catchphrase where he asks everyone if they are “working hard or hardly working.”

There are a lot of positive messages in this film about family and loyalty. Another message is that you can go searching for things you’ve never had in life, but you might find they were right with you all along. Parents of younger kids might want to watch out for some of the risky actions the brothers take, like when Ian walks off a cliff, trusting in his magic to keep him safe.

I give this movie 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 5 to 17, and adults will like it too. You can see Onward in theaters everywhere starting March 6, 2020.

Onward
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I love Onward! It is a whimsical story filled with colorful and eccentric characters. Pixar nailed the animation, and the cast of voices is pure perfection.

Onward takes place in a magical world, that isn’t quite so magical anymore. Brothers Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) are complete opposites in every way. Brave Barley is never is afraid to take a risk, especially when it involves magic. Ian, on the other hand, is quirky, and lacks confidence. Their mom, Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), is an important character as she is the glue keeping their family together.

The movie is inspired by the director, Dan Scanlon’s own childhood. I love the setting of this movie. It takes place in a modern town, where everyone lives in mushroom-shaped houses. Unicorns, once a majestic creature, are now more like raccoons than anything else. Adorable mini dragons are kept as pets. The voice-over actors are wonderful. Mel Rodriguez, who voices Officer Bronco, has the funniest laugh. Octavia Spencer, who voices The Manticore, acts as wild as a Manticore should. Tom Holland (Ian) perfectly portrays an awkward kid. My favorite character is Barley, because he is a classic rock loving boy. 

The messages of this movie are that family is the most important thing and sometimes what you’re looking for has been with you the whole time. This film does have some magical scenes that kids should not imitate. It also reminds us to always pay your parking tickets.

I give Onward 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18. People with siblings will especially like it as will adults. Onward opens in theaters March 6, 2020.

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