Onward is the first original film produced by Pixar since 2017’s Coco, and they have not lost their magic. The film stars Ian Lightfoot (voiced by Tom Holland) and his big brother Barley (voiced by Chris Pratt). Sixteen years before the film and just before Ian’s birth, their father passed away after a battle with an unknown illness. Before his passing, he gave a gift to Ian and Barley’s mother (voiced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus), telling her to give her sons the gift once they’re both sixteen. When Ian turns sixteen, she gives him the gift, which turns out to be a wizard staff, along with instructions and materials to cast a spell to bring back their father for a day. After Barley unsuccessfully attempts to cast the spell, Ian accidentally casts it but struggles to keep a hold on the staff long enough to fully cast the spell, and thus only reincarnate their father’s lower half. They need to go on a quest to find a gem that can finish the spell, which is where the rest of the film is set.
Onward is everything you’d expect from a Pixar film: creative, emotional, funny, perfect for all ages. But that’s its biggest weakness: it’s a Pixar film. A lot of Pixar films, especially the more recent ones, follow the same formula, and don’t get me wrong, that formula works really well. It’s been the cause of some of the greatest movies of all time, but my biggest fear is that Onward will soon just become another Pixar film because of it. Onward takes the formula and does enough of its own thing to be a good film well worth your time, but it reaks of missed potential that could have secured Onward a spot as one of the greatest animated films.