Welcome to the suburban world of New Mushroomton, a land that forgot its own magical wonders and replaced them with the marvel of science—making everyday life easier. Onward explores the possibility of magic left in this new-fangled world. It follows the Lightfoot brothers, Ian and Barley, voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, as they go on a mighty quest to hunt down a gem that could help them see their deceased father one last time.
New Mushroomton felt like the advanced modern society we live in, with a few fantasy elements thrown in for good measure. This helped ground the world and make it relatable for the audience as they viewed the movie. It took elements from fantasy novels, Dungeons and Dragons, and Zootopia when it came to creating the aesthetic and culture of the world.
I quite enjoyed Ian being in his teenage years, allowing the film to explore growing up and forming a relationships—both with Barley and with his father. Holland and Pratt have an incredible chemistry as brothers, and I particularly liked that Barley’s personality is parallel to Pratt’s other famous role, Andy Dwyer from Parks and Recreation. Barley is presented as a lovable scamp who loves fantasy and role-playing games, whereas Holland plays a shy teenager who cannot communicate or socialise with other teenagers.
My favourite character has to be Manticore, wonderfully voiced by Octavia Spencer. She stole every scene she was in and the jokes about keeping her tavern open were truly on point on how she also addressed herself throughout the film. Her character development from being a customer-pleasing manager to becoming the fearless and brave quest-giver she was once before was truly a sight to see.
The dancing sequence between the Lightfoots in the forest while acquiring some food was one of the most enjoyable scenes in the film. It displayed how even though the movie was a road trip filled with obstacles that the brothers had to go through, the simple moments they shared were also special.
It was amazing to see how fluid the animation was. The detail of Mushroomton, along with every single piece of the hair moving individually was beautiful to look at. It was incredibly joyous to see the amount of work they had put into the dancing sequence to make it as convincing as possible, especially with the father’s lower half.
While Onward had some wonderful moments, there were some that were not as enjoyable. The world-building was derivative of Zootopia which, at times, felt like something that I had seen before and would not watch twice, even though the movie is original and delivered some laughter. It felt distasteful in parts where it seemed like the movie was baiting the queer community after having a queer police officer refer to her own sexuality in one line and not refer to it again.
Onward is a wonderful, funny film about reuniting with a long-lost family member. There are scenes in the movie that will make you laugh, be shocked or be in awe at the animation. It may not be the best Disney-Pixar film that I’ve seen, but it has its own charm and if you like Dungeons and Dragons and fantasy, then you will definitely enjoy the references throughout the films. Go on, walk Onward to your theatre, watch it and have a great time.
Onwards is in cinemas April 2nd 2020.