Onward features some great ideas and beautiful animation. Tom Holland‘s character (perhaps the first hero named Ian!) is an absolute joy and there are many scenes of hilarity and references to other films, such as the Indy series.
The problem I have with it is the subject matter – the loss of a father and the chance to get him back for 24 hours. Ouch. Despite all the fun and jokes happening, this central conceit was so upsetting to me that I could not let myself just enjoy the film. I imagine many people would leave the theater and go hug their fathers, but what if you can‘t? What if you‘ve already lost your dad? I think about my father every single day, everytime I buy an album, everytime I see a movie, everytime I read the news, I just want to run and tell him.
There are moments in Onward where this pain is beautifully presented. If I had the ability to cry at sad things, I probably would have been bawling. Instead it just sucked the enjoyment out of the experience.
Good things? Amusing characters, unicorns, dragons, all kinds of animals and the main family of elves. I don‘t really like Chris Pratt‘s elf, he is just Starlord turned up to eleven and you just want to calm him down. Octavia Spenser on the other hand is great and the aforementioned Holland owns the film.
Another thing that upset me? The father half returns, just the bottom half. This is so close to making Ian‘s wish come true that it totally wiped me out – it is used for some Weekend At Bernies hilarity, but even these scenes just left me cold. Also it provided so many questions – how does he breathe? How does he know where his sons are? How does he walk along without crashing into everything? Overthinking me, there.
If you still have your father then add another flame to my final rating. There is so much good stuff going on here, it just left me in a sad place and I‘m hardly the happiest boy at the best of times. I’m sticking to Monsters Inc!