Are you thinking about going to see “Onward” in theaters with your family?
As soon as we heard about this film my family and I got very excited! One of my sons is a gigantic Spiderman fan so everything Tom Holland is very much a part of our family. We will certainly be seeing Onward opening night! Check out this previous post I wrote about it. I got an opportunity to screen Onward in advance which is always helpful for me before bringing my kids into the theater. So what did I think? Did it meet my expectations or fail? What about inclusion? In our family we try really hard to make sure that all media my kids consume meet certain criteria. Did it pass?
Meet the Lightfoot Family
Meet Ian Lightfoot and his big brother Barley. Ian is a typical elf teenager living in a magical land that has all but forgotten it’s magical roots. Lucky for Ian, Barley has not forgotten about history because on Ian’s 16th birthday he receives an unexpected gift that will change everything.
Ian’s father passed away when he was still a baby. He has no memories of him and Barley only has a few. His father would have given anything to see his boys grow up, so he tried his best to ensure that they would get at least one day together. But when things don’t go as planned using the spell he left for them, Ian and Barley have to go on an epic quest to find the missing element and hidden magic within them that will hopefully give them the memories and moments with their father that they have always wanted.
As Disney and Pixar are known to do, of course they grabbed your heartstrings. As much as I loved Onward, it did not quite meet the expectations that I thought it would on a few levels but it definitely satisfied in ways I did not see coming.
Yes you will cry.
Yes you will love these characters.
Will you watch it over and over again?
That doesn’t mean anything other than simply not having repeat viewing appeal. It is supposed to be more than that and it has many other worthy qualities. Also many “play, rewind, repeat” viewing movies are great home releases, but this is definitely one you will want to experience in the theater. The animation and depth of skill needs to be seen on a big screen to really be appreciated.
So what did I like?
I absolutely LOVED the animation! It Onward is beautiful. I’m always in awe of the skill, and it blows my mind that people are so fantastically creative. They built a beautiful world full of interesting creatures that are fun to look at. For me, visuals are a huge plus. Another amazing plus for me as a resolved ending. This one had and unexpected/expected and completely resolved ending. Disney took us on a journey and gave us a satisfying ending. Not all films do that, and I appreciated it. One thing that I personally related to and very much appreciated was how the mom would go to any lengths for her boys. She was relatable on many levels as a mom and yet a superhero in every sense.
Any not-so-positive moments?
As for the not-so-positive points in the film, it is all subjective. Disney makes movies that appeal to a broad audience and that can mean that not everything is for everyone. I didn’t love the Manticore story line and I wish they had spent more time diving in to who these characters were before we went on the journey, but within the context of this film and the audience it’s meant for, I don’t think it was necessarily a negative.
Were there Spiritual elements?
Despite my own personal beliefs, I do not mind one way or the other if my children are exposed to many schools of thought on spirituality. I actually appreciate it. So in this way, I think it was a plus that the spirituality presented was in the magical realm. The story never dives in to where the father has gone after passing away or how he could come back other than to explain that it is magic and it is old and sacred.
Was there “adult” content?
Not really, This is Disney after all. The only things that could be considered “off brand“ in that the mom’s ringtone for her boyfriend was the song “Let’s Get It On“ by Marvin Gaye.
Is there violent content?
I guess this one depends on what you consider “violent”. There are weapons like arrows, swords, and axes as well as plenty of “battles“. But I do not believe that most of this would be considered overtly “violent“. There are some pixies that are quite aggressive, and The Manticore does refer to a previous battle (when she was more violently inclined) where she “severed the beast’s wings from its wretched body“.
Are there Curse words?
The closest I would consider to a curse would be the character Colt at one point saying, “Stop those dang kids.”.
Is there “Potty” humor?
Despite being a story about two brothers, the only thing I would consider leaning towards potty humor would be a quick shot of Barley’s pants sagging and showing a little bit of his butt crack.
Are there Drugs/alcohol shown or mentioned?
No there no drugs or alcohol shown or mentioned.
Does it pass any “tests”? Does it fail any?
As best I could tell it does seem to pass all tests. Disney does a great job of implementing the various inclusion measures they have taken on the script level and all the way through production.
It passes The following tests:
Bechdel, Mako Mori, Ellen Willis, Tauriel, and most importantly the Vito Russo test. Casually amongst coworker conversation one female character (Officer Spector) refers to how hard it is to be a new parent to her girlfriend’s teenage daughter. Officer Spector is played by Lena Waithe (who identifies as female) and the casting is brilliant. It is not overt, but it is an important part of the movie and is not done in a way that exploits the character or the moment.
There are two tests that it does not pass (Deggans and DuVernay) but that is because the criteria in both of those test surrounds the characters being human and identifiable based on race which no characters in the film are. There are no human characters at all in the film.
This is definitely one to see with the family in theaters and will open up a wealth of laughs, tears, and shared experience to bond on. There are plenty of talking points to continue the conversation after the movie, or you can just go and relax and have an amazing Onward journey with your family and escape this world for another one just for a little bit.
About the movie:
Set in a suburban fantasy world, Disney and Pixar’s “Onward” introduces two teenage elf brothers who embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left out there. Pixar Animation Studios’ all-new original feature film is directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae—the team behind “Monsters University.”
“Onward” releases in theaters on March 6, 2020.