Pixar’s ‘Onward’ is a Fun Fantasy Film with Tons of Heart and Laughs [Spoiler-Free Movie Review]

Onward is a fun-filled fantasy film for the whole family. Tom Holland and Chris Pratt deliver a brilliant performance filled with laughs and tears.
Pixar Onward Movie Review

Get ready for Pixar’s latest film, Onward. The movie may be set in a fantasy world with characters that have put aside their magical past in favor of technological convenience — but that’s just the mundane side of society. Across the almost 2-hour film, Ian and Barley Lightfoot set out on a truly grand quest that flys by with an emotional core that reaches its peak in the tear-filled final act of the film.

The world, emotions, and characters were wonderfully crafted and the opening sequence hooks you right away with the swelling musical score (complete with gregorian-style chants) and sweeping camera work as you fly over the town of New Mushroomton (the hometown of the Lightfoot family).

Barley tried to use the Visitation Spell in Onward

Ian and Barley Lightfoot may be different in almost every way, but they both have one thing in common — they want to know more about their father who passed away when they were very, very young. Barley only has a handful of memories of his dad and Ian doesn’t have any memory of him. Without much practice under their belts, the duo tries to bring their dad back to life using a wizard staff, a phoenix stone, and a 24-hour visitation spell they were gifted on Ian’s 16th Birthday.

After things don’t go as planned and the phoenix stone is damaged, the boys set out on a quest to find another one of the rare gems to complete their spell — before time runs out.

Ian and Barley Spell Onward

The vocal cast in Onward really does an amazing job. Tom Holland (voice of Ian) gives what we believe is an award-winning performance. He blends the awkwardness of being a more timid teenager with a warmth that easily makes him our favorite character in the film. Chris Pratt also did a stellar job voicing Barley. Although his character can be boisterous at times, Chris’ vocal work brings a light and caring tone to the character that was necessary to keep the positive energy moving throughout the movie.

Julia Louis Dreyfus was likewise brilliant as Laurel Lightfoot (along with the remaining cast). Her delivery really sold the “I’ll do anything for you” tone that mothers have, but we were floored by how well her character was written. You can feel the ache in her voice as things don’t go as planned and she tries to cheep up Ian.

Manticore and Laurel talking to police in Onward

If you were wondering if a fantasy film about two brothers seeking to bring back their father back to life is for everyone — it definitely is. Onward is a fun-filled fantasy film for the whole family.

Throughout the entire film, we wished we were young again so we could run around and cast the same spells Ian and Barley utilized throughout the film with our friends. The adventures are fun, funny, and not scary which is nice for parents of younger children. The film has more moments of suspense than scares and we would say that Benson in Toy Story 4 was more intense than Onward.

Onward Growth Spell with Ian


  • Any scenes with the Sprites — the winged fairy-like biker gang — brought the most laughs for us.
  • We loved that a giant troll Ian talks to at school was wearing forearm crutches — the is great diversity.
  • All your favorite easter eggs are there — the Pixar ball, A-113 reference, John Ratzenberger voicing a character, a Pizza Planet reference, and more.

After the film officially hits theaters on March 6, 2020, we’ll share our full review with even more specifics and details about the wonderful moments of animation (e.g., where Barley uses his shoulder to pop open the van door), our favorite scenes, and so much more. Definitely take your friends and family to go see Onward, it’s a wonderful, heartfelt film.

Pixar Post — T.J.

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