Our Thoughts On Pixar’s Onward!

For the first time since 2016 (Coco) Pixar releases an original film (not a sequel) with Onward. When Pixar drops original content like this it is always interesting to see what kind of take or spin they will have on a genre or “world.” This time they explore a world in which mythical creatures still exist but magic does not.

Our two main characters are Officer Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin from Once Upon a Time) and con-artist Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman from Arrested Development). Hopps is a bunny from the country who has wanted to be a police officer ever since she was little. One day, after a school presentation, her parents try to tell her that no bunny has ever been a police officer. Young Judy responds, “Then I’ll just have to be the first.” That kind of unwavering optimism leads Hopps to go to the police academy and even graduate valedictorian. She then is assigned to Zootopia; the big city. There she encounters con artist fox Nick Wilde. Nick isn’t really a bad guy, but he is definitely someone that exploits his being able to work the system. Judy catches Nick in a con and uses that against him to get his help in a missing mammal case. From there the two follow threads of a conspiracy that could destroy the society of Zootopia.

As always the new premise is what brings audiences to the seats, but what keeps people in those seats is the story. The real story is about two brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot, played by Tom Holland (Spider-Man Far From Home) and Chris Pratt (Jurassic WorldGuardians of the Galaxy) respectively. These two brothers embark on a road trip (in the form of a quest like in days of yore) for a chance to see the father they lost in their childhood. Much like in Disney films, it is the loss of a parental figure which has shaped who these boys have become as adults. Stunted development, while clearly a result of losing their father at such young ages, has impacted each brother in a different way. And much like the fantasy tales on which Onward takes its inspiration, it is the journey in the adventure (or quest) which is rite of passage for a hero to mature and become the person they were always meant to be. Onward succeeds wonderfully in showing this process and there is a moment in which one character comes to a realization about his life and it is so beautifully done that it just brought me to tears.

While Pixar is definitely known for pulling those heart strings, they are also rightfully recognized for the astounding achievements in art and computer generation of a world that you could swear was shot live with a camera. Like in other Pixar films, the frame never focuses on a shot to show just how good they are at creating a road, water, or grass; they let the story be the focus. But if you let your eye drift to the side and take a moment to observe the visual splendor and realism they bring to every shot, you will be able to see the passion these animators have to bring a world to life.
Pratt and Holland are clearly the leads but are by no means the only stars and talent making up the cast. Their mother Laurel is played by Golden Globe Winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus (HBO’s Veep), who has her own adventure just to protect her sons.  Mel Rodriguez (The Watch) is a centaur police officer named Colt Bronco, who also happens to be Laurel’s boyfriend (the boys just “love” that). And by far my favorite performance comes from Academy Award Winner Octavia Spencer (The Help) as The Manticore (both her species and her name). Spencer plays The Manticore, who has fallen so very far from her legendary status from days of old, so realistically comical that I think she got the most laughs out of me. Easily my favorite character of the film.
Onward carries on the tradition of Pixar films by being a legit family friendly film that can actually be enjoyed by audience members of all ages. It is fun, exciting, funny, sincere, and heart-warming.

ONWARD IS IN THEATRES MARCH 6TH, 2020! Get your tickets now!

Check out the trailer below too!