Review by Susan Phillips

Before modern day in the land of mermaids, unicorns, fairies and centaurs, wizards used magic to help them in their day-to-day life. But learning magic was difficult, and as time flew by with the invention of more modern luxuries, the ways of the wizard slowly disappeared. Instead of using a spell to add light to a room it was now easier to flip a switch and have a light bulb turn on. Now in current times however, the brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot discover that magic still exists and they can use it to make a dream come true in Onward.

Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) is an awkward, timid teenage elf. He’s able to muster up the some confidence to try to make friends or learn to drive, but doesn’t have enough faith in himself to actually accomplish those things. He’s a good kid with a cheerful disposition who prefers to follow the rules in life.


Barley Lightfoot (voice Chris Pratt) and Ian Lightfoot (voice of Tom Holland), and mom Laural Lightfoot (voice of Julia Louis-Dreyfus ), in Onward from Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

His older brother Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt) has acquired an extensive knowledge about the old days of the wizards thru challenging games. He’s so into it, he even defends an ancient relic when the city wants to tear it down. You can see he has become a master at the game Dragon Quest of Yore (think “Castlevania” video game) and even has a young dragon as a pet. He’s a bit of a recluse, but also a lovable guy who’s always looking after his little brother.

On Ian’s 16th birthday, their mother Laurel Lightfoot (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) presents both boys with a special gift.  It was from their father who died of an illness before Ian was born. The gift is an old wizard’s staff and a rare Phoenix gem. The staff itself has powers, but with the gem and a visitation spell written out by their dad, the brothers find that thy have the ability to bring their father to life for 24 hours. It’s a chance of a lifetime for Ian who never got to meet his dad when he was alive.


Laural Lightfoot (voice of Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Corey (voice of Octavia Spencer), in Onward from Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Unfortunately things do not go well and the boys find themselves on a quest to find another Phoenix gem to complete the recreation of their dad. With time running out and a little help from an ancient map from Manitcore (Octavia Spencer), they struggle to beat the clock.

Leave it to Disney and Pixar to come up with another imaginative story that will captivate any age group and tug at your heart strings. Writer/director Dan Scanlon and co-writers Jason Headley and Keith Bunin give us a creative tale that includes comedy, adventure, suspense and life lessons. I caught myself holding my breath and shedding a few tears throughout this clever animated film and especially the ending. They gave me important content to discuss with my children about family, and believing in yourself and others. You won’t want to miss bringing your family – biological or extended - to experience this touching story.

This mother of three gives Onward 4.5 out of 5 stars for its originality and heartwarming storyline for the whole family. It’s rated PG for action/peril and some thematic elements.

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