From the magical ice kingdom of Frozen to the enchanting afterlife of Coco, Disney and Pixar have always brought magic to the movie theaters. Disney’s reputation for magic extends even further since it is well known for its Pixie dust that inspires joy. Our family’s Walt Disney World vacations have always been a memory of being at the most magical place on earth! With the newest release of Onward, it’s only fitting that the journey two brothers must go on is a quest for magic, but the setting is the most un-magical place ever: the modern, technology-savvy, junk food-filled lives of suburbia.
In this fantasy world of unicorns, fairies, trolls, dragons, warlocks, ogres, and mermaids, it’s not unlike today. Despite a rich history of a magical past, all the creatures have become less imaginative and lazier. The interstates are filled with traffic. Families enjoy going out to corny, themed dinner restaurants. School children care about popularity more than anything, and older siblings can be incredibly embarrassing. Other than the characters being blue, long-eared elves, everything seems typical until a twist comes along that changes everything. Brothers Barley and Ian Lightfoot have the opportunity to see their deceased father one more time, but only for one day.
Shy, nervous protagonist Ian has just celebrated his 16th birthday when he discovers his powers as a wizard. Although he lacks confidence, he would do anything to finally meet his father. Along with his brother Barley who is obsessively nostalgic for the past, they embark on a solemn quest for the Pheonix Gem to fulfill the spell, just as their ancestors would have in the ancient times.
Only now, they must reach the Pheonix Gem before they are stopped by their well-meaning family. Accompanied by a passionate and wild manticore, their mother chases after them. She hopes to reach them in time to warn them of the danger that awaits them.
Their mother has a centaur police boyfriend who is also hot on their trail. Despite the high speed chases and many close run-ins with the law, the brothers continue chugging along in Barley’s dream machine van as they follow the clues. When faced with each new challenge, Ian grows bolder. In time, he even learns that to move onward, he must gain a new appreciation for both the past and his present life. It is only through that appreciation that he can accept who he truly is.
Is Onward Similar to Frozen?
Absolutely, it’s like a Frozen for boys! Not only do the fonts in the titles look similar, but there are also several similarities in the plot. Onward has a magical sibling similar to Elsa, and it has a younger sibling who lacks confidence, which is similar to Anna. There is also a bridge that magically grows as you walk on it, just as Elsa did on the ice bridge in Frozen. In both, the siblings learn to develop a true appreciation for one another.
Starring the voices of Chris Pratt, Tom Holland, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, John Ratzenberger and Wilmer Valderama, Onward is written and directed by Dan Scanlon with a screenplay by Hanlon, Jason Headley and Keith Bunin. It releases on Friday, March 6, 2020 in theaters.