Onward, is the latest installment in a long line of quality animated films from Disney Pixar. It has all the elements we as movie-goers have come to expect: Great animation, heart, and a quality message. So what is Onward’s most enjoyable element? The quest of the two main characters give Onward an enjoyable and child-like feeling of adventure.
The Brothers Lightfoot
Onward takes place in a society of magical beings that have lost their magic. We find a suburbia filled with creatures from tales and legends we remember as kids. This is where we meet our two main characters, elvish brothers Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt). The two characters are complete opposites in terms of their personalities. Barely is a carefree magic enthusiast and older brother. Ian is shy, socially awkward, and just wants to fit in among his peers. More than anything else, Ian wants to know more about his father who died while he was very young.
A Bonding Quest
The brothers embark on a quest to find a magical stone that will manifest their father for a whole day. This aspect of the story is one of the more enjoyable elements of Onward. Any time Ian and Barley are on screen together, we learn more about their relationship and tendencies as brothers. We see that Barley really cares for his brother and is a constant source of encouragement for him. Despite that, Ian feels that Barley is rash and gives bad advice. Those feelings toward Barley eventually shift over the course of the film.
Barley starts to rub off on Ian and he breaks out of his shell. Similarly, Barley gains a bit of Ian’s more responsible tendencies. Those character elements are brought out by the dangers and adventures of their quest. They grow even closer as their journey reaches its end.
What we find in Onward is a quest/adventure that mirrors the arcs of the two brothers. The characters have an established relationship at the beginning of the film which gets reinforced at the end. The same is true about their quest. As a result, the brothers and their quest end up partially where you both expect and least expect it to. We will remain somewhat ambiguous about that point as not to spoil the film. Ultimately, Onward allows you to have your cake and eat it too. which is just enough to leave you satisfied and fulfilled by the end.