Pixar Moves Onward with Their Latest Hit

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Pixar’s new feature film Onward debuted last Friday March 6th with a box office of $40 million. While it’s a far cry from Inside Out’s $98 million debut, the story of two brothers on a quest to spend one day with their deceased father is resonating with audiences so far, if not yet with critics. 2013’s Frozen had our hearts melting to the tale of two sisters, but there hasn’t been anything for brothers until now and is a welcome addition to Pixar’s roster of entertainment.

Brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot are left fatherless and raised by their mom in a medieval version of our modern day where unicorns scrounge for scraps like raccoons, pixies have forgotten how to fly, and centaurs have traded in their legs for the convenience of vehicles. Elder brother Barley is currently on “the longest gap year” and spends his days playing his role-playing board game “Quests of Yore” and joyriding his trusty “steed” Guinevere. Meanwhile Ian struggles to find his confidence, learn to drive, and is obsessed with making to-do lists and crossing them out every time he falls short.

Brothers use magical staff in Onward

Fast forward to Ian’s 16th birthday, when he receives a magical wizard staff left behind by their father. The staff comes with a set of instructions for bringing their father back for one day through the power of a phoenix gem. When the procedure goes amiss, the brothers are left with only the bottom half of Dad and have less than 24 hours to find another gem to complete the process.

Hilarity ensues as they keep Dad on a leash and communicate through foot taps on an epic quest of valor and brotherhood. There are enough action scenes to keep boys entertained and heartfelt moments of growth that all audiences will appreciate. The real phoenix gem in Onward is in fact Ian and Barley’s relationship as it develops over the course of the 102 minute movie. I liked that Pixar didn’t write a typical older-younger brother relationship; Barley is the irresponsible, maverick nerd while Ian is the overly cautious, calculating one.

Onward's Manticore in tavern

Although the focus is on male relationships, there are plenty of strong females that won’t have girls feeling left out. The boys’ mom Laurel practices the mantra “I’m a warrior!” and comes to the boys’ aid holding her own as well as any of them. Having held down the fort raising two boys for 16 years, Laurel definitely has cause to be concerned as “one of them is afraid of everything, and the other isn’t afraid of anything!” She teams up for a female power-combo with Manticore, an amalgamation of lion, dragon, and scorpion who liberates herself from converting her cutthroat tavern into something akin to a medieval Chuck E. Cheese to pay the bills. The two go on a glorified girls night in pursuit of the brothers that’s an empowering example of women taking action.

Of course no Pixar movie would be complete without a touching and bittersweet end with a few surprises. Don’t be surprised if there are a few tears from the men in your life. Onward’s medieval theme makes for an interesting and comical take that makes this story unique. Lastly, you may be surprised at a Simpsons short called “Playdate with Destiny” in place of Pixar’s usual shorts that either feature something achingly adorable or dissolves you to tears within minutes. Though it seems a far cry away from the careful values of Disney, it comes from Disney’s recent acquisition of Fox. The only thing that kept it akin to a traditional Pixar short is that there are no speaking parts.

What do you think of the new Simpsons short? Let us know in the comments! Catch Pixar’s Onward in theaters now.


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Pixar Moves Onward with Their Latest Hit