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In Onward, when teenage elf brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot (voices of Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) get an unexpected opportunity to spend one more day with their late dad, they embark on an extraordinary quest aboard Barley’s epic van Guinevere.
Like any good quest, their journey is filled with magic spells, cryptic maps, impossible obstacles, and unimaginable discoveries. But when the boys’ fearless mom Laurel (voice of Julia Louis-Dreyfus) realizes her sons are missing, she teams up with a part-lion, part-bat, part-scorpion, former warrior – aka The Manticore (voice of Octavia Spencer) – and heads off to find them. Perilous curses aside, this one magical day could mean more than any of them ever dreamed.
Onward begins with background about how elf magic ended when Ian was young. However, on Ian’s 16th B-day, he was going to discover that he himself was a wizard. His mom is excited when she brings down a gift from his father, who passed away when he was too young to remember. The gift is a wizard staff and a spell that would let his father return to the land of the living for one day (24 hours), so he could see how much the boys had grown. Ian was very excited to meet his Dad. The spell was old magic, for they did not use magic any longer because there were inventions that took the place of the spells. For example, a fire was replaced with a light bulb. Not many understood the magic world, but Ian’s brother Barley did! His obsession with the magic of the past makes for a unique combination with his brother in the latter half of the movie.
The first time they tried the spell from their father, Barley found he was not magical; however, his brother Ian was. He was not a strong enough wizard (yet), and the spell went awry only to make his dad not wholly appear. He was just a waist, legs, and feet. So the boys stuffed a torso and head and attached it to a leash that they pulled around on the quest since the “legs” could not see.
To complete the spell and bring back the top half of their father, they need to find a gem that fits into the wizard staff. Barley, the older brother, knows all about the spells and how to cast them because he has been playing a card game for years with all the old spells and tricks. However, Ian knows little about magic and what he can do as a wizard. As they go on their quest to find the gem, Ian and Barley learn to respect and trust one another. With Barley’s knowledge of spells and Ian’s trust, they have several fun adventures that land them in the presence of the gem. When the father returns with only 2 minutes left of the 24 hour period, Ian decides Barley was more of a father to him than his own father since he passed away when he was so young. Ian allows Barley to have the alone time with his father while Ian fights off a dragon who is guarding the gem.
The movie is a great one for kids from ages 3-14. Both my kids enjoyed it a lot and would like to see it again, but does not leave adults laughing at innuendos, gags, or jokes like Tangled did several years ago. Yet, it is a perfectly watchable film for adults. There are lots of rumors about this being the first Disney film with an LGBT character. It was a police officer who mentions her partner. It was one comment and in a section of the movie that did not even need to be in there. I feel they put it in the movie just to claim they accept LGBTQ. That aspect was very disappointing. Rating: PG
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