Review: ONWARD

After proving that there was more “Toy Story” to tell last year and winning the golden statue for the best-animated film of the year, Disney Pixar takes risks in 2020 with two original stories. “Onward” is the first release, and “Soul” comes to us this summer. As an original, stand-alone project, “Onward” is a welcomed departure from rehashed old material. It’s a movie that should capture kiddie imaginations and bring a tear to the eyes of parents.

“Onward” is set in a fantasy world that has abandoned magic in favor of the convenience and reliability of technology. So, in this strange but familiar land, unicorns have become like our garbage-diving raccoons, and pixies no longer remember how to fly. But when two teenage elves get a wizard’s staff as a belated gift from their long-departed dad, they embark on a quest. If they are successful, they will be able to spend the better part of a day with their resurrected father.

Brother elves voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt.

Ian Lightfoot (voiced by Tom Holland) is the younger of the elvish twosome. He’s just turned 16, and his social anxiety prevented him from asking anyone from school to have cake to celebrate his birthday. His nerdy, ne’er-do’-well older brother Barley (voice of Chris Pratt) tools around in an old conversion van he calls Guinevere. He’s enthusiastic about his little bro’s big day, but his bombastic behavior proves to be embarrassing.

Their responsible, fun-loving mother, Laurel (voiced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus), recognizes that Ian is feeling a little down. She decides to give the boys a gift that she’s been hiding until both of them are 16 or older. It’s this present, a wizard’s staff, that promises to give Ian and Barley a chance to make new memories with their father, who died when they were little.

Read the rest of Jonathan’s review online and in print in the Times-Herald: