Length: 102 minutes / 1.70 hours
I always look forward to Pixar films, mostly to see how visually stunning a movie created entirely in a computer can look with each passing year of technological and programming advancements. The other reason I will always go to see a Pixar movie is their dedication to a good story. Sure, there have been some missed steps over the years (The Good Dinosaur (2015) being the latest example), but their track record has been good enough to warrant me seeing their films in the theater. While I was looking forward to this year’s offering of Onward (2020), the result felt a little lackluster overall.
Choosing to explore a storyline with a deceased parent was odd in that it felt like something that had rarely been addressed in movies geared toward children while also having a strong “after school special” vibe to it. Either way, putting it in a pseudo-Monsters, Inc. (2001) fantasy world was a fun way to deliver this tale of two brothers on a road trip to find a way to bring their father back for a single day. I laughed out loud at the freeze-frame jokes that I picked up on (my favorite being the “Mountain Doom” soda can), and I’m sure I’ll have to pause it a bunch of times if I pick it up to own at some point.
While the “coming of age” story felt a little weak overall—having been done a ton elsewhere—the emotional impact of the last 10-15 minutes had me ugly crying in the way that Pixar films always do. I liked the climax of this film, but there were times where I thought the focus of the action completely forgot about the father’s legs (which themselves were the source of plenty of superb visual gags). Is this Pixar’s best film? Probably not. Is it better than the other CGI animation out there? Most definitely.
A somewhat standard coming of age story with Pixar’s usual charm, I give Onward 3.5 stars out of 5.