I was invited to see a pre-release of Onward as a member of the media. All words and thoughts my own. Affiliate links included. When you purchase anything via these links, I make a small commission. Very small. But very appreciated. Thanks for loving ohAmanda!
Let’s just start with this: I totally and completely loved this movie! I did! I avoided (as I usually do) the longer trailers so I didn’t really know what it was about. I hadn’t even seen the movie poster so I went in cold.
I’m going to try to keep this very spoiler-free so let’s just jump right in, ok?
(Hey- don’t forget to download the Family Discussion Guide at the bottom of this post, ok?)
In a magical land where magic has been forgotten, two elven brothers, Ian and Barley are given an opportunity to magically bring their deceased father back for one day. Things go amiss, and they go on a quest to find the magic that can help them see their dad.
Why You & Your Kids Will Want to See Onward
It’s Magical! There’s satyrs and centaurs and elves! Ian, the younger elf brother has a magic wizard’s wand and led by his older brother, Barley, learns to use it.
This is done in the most fun way. Not even as dark as a Harry Potter movie, in my opinion. There’s no eye of newt or doing spells at midnight in a graveyard.
It’s about family! Pixar is always so good at telling stories about how important family is. Onward is no exception. The main story is boys who want to know and talk to their dad, for goodness’ sake! And even over Ian’s journey of self-discovery and being a better person…er, elf, the relationship with his brother was the main story.
Not to mention the courageous, warrior-like MOM! She wasn’t a silly side character. She was a major part of the plot and I loved her! (When we left the theatre, I said, “Well, I know who I’m being for Halloween this year. We just have to figure out how Daddy can go as just pants!”)
It’s hilarious! Y’all. I laughed so hard. I thought the characters were so rich. I think I might even have a little crush on the older brother elf, Barley.
The made up land of Mushroomton where they lived was filled with silliness (The whey powder on the mom’s counter? “Whey Strong” Ha! If you’re into silly puns, just read all the signs in town and on the labels, etc. So clever.)
It’s exciting! The boys go on a quest complete with car chases (admittedly, maybe one too many), a centaur cop on their tail and a race against time.
It’s a good story! Yeah, there’s a half-dad in the movie. Like half of his body. Like, just his lower-half. And that seems like it would be really weird and kinda uncomfortable. But somehow, it ended up being really sweet.
I don’t think I’m selling this very well. It was just such a fun movie. Every part, to me, was enjoyable. I laughed (sometimes by myself) and had tears in my eyes more than once. The story was creative and funny without being overly silly.
But, let’s keep going…
WHY YOU AND YOUR KIDS MIGHT NOT WANT TO SEE ONWARD
It was magical. I get it. Some people do not get into magic. And for good reason. But, I thought this was very benign. Basically, in their world, magic was too difficult and technology was easier so even though they are magical creatures, there isn’t any magic around (kinda opposite of Muggles!)
Now, much of the folklore/history of their town and magic was turned into a Dungeons & Dragons like role-playing game. This game features as back-story more than central to the plot. Even two of the monsters we see in the movie are from D&D. Which, one of them is a gelatinous cube, so: NOT SCARY.
If you want to stay away from magic, this is not the movie for you. Like I said, in my opinion, it’s less dark than Harry Potter. Or even a Sofia the First-type show because is not a Sorcerer or Witch type character. If you’re not sure, check out the trailer. You’ll get a feel for how magic-y it is.
It’s about family. And a really sad part of a family. The father’s death happened when Ian, the newly 16 year old elf was just a baby. The whole movie is two boys longing to see their dad for just one more day. I can see this being potentially upsetting to a child who has lost a parent.
Although I think they handled this with great care, it might be something to think about.
Also, The mom in the story has a new boyfriend and that can feel a bit uncomfortable. Especially when it is unclear if he lives in the house with them.
And one more thing: There is a lesbian character in the movie. She’s a very side (ie. unimportant) character. She is a cop who interrogates (who she thinks is) another officer. In their conversation, she mentions, “my girlfriend’s daughter has got me pulling my hair” (not an exact quote). It was very casual. And yet, obvious. Both of my kids noticed it.
They say representation matters. And it does. Representation brings attention, value and normalcy to a group or idea. So, you need to decide how you feel about the representation. This can be a hard topic for some. My kids are 11 and 14, so for us, this was a conversation starter.
(Also, this is not a new thing. See this list of LGBT characters in kids’ shows.)
It’s exciting. Like I said, my kids are older now (too old!!) They can take a lot more thrills than they used to be able to do. There were 2 pretty extensive car chases in this movie, some really violent motorcyle-loving pixies, and a giant dragon made of rocks that was trying to kill Ian and Barley.
I don’t think of anything was too scary, but again, depending on your kiddos, be aware.
Again, I feel like I didn’t get my gushing across very well. I seriously loved this movie. I’d go see it again next week if someone asked me to. It was clever in every way.
My 11 year old son thought it was hilarious. My 14 year old said it was the boy-version of Frozen. (And really, it kinda is!) My husband enjoyed it but said he thought it was a little slow in the middle. (I disagree!)
Anywhoo, I say Onward!