Disney/Pixar’s newest film, Onward, will be in theaters everywhere March 6, 2020. Is it a family friendly film? Just because it’s an animated movie doesn’t necessarily mean it’s family friendly. In fact, it seems like, lately, many of the animated films marketed to families are pushing the envelope just a bit. So is the Onward movie safe for kids and fun to watch?
Buy Onward on digital here now! Available for streaming on Disney+ April 3!
Onward Movie Review
We were privileged to see an advanced screening of Onward before our recent Disney Cruise as part of the Disney Creator’s Celebration. I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t super thrilled about it. I had no idea what the movie was going to be about. Additionally, Pixar itself kinda let me down last year. It really felt like the year of the sequel (Incredibles 2, Toy Story 4), and they weren’t even that good. So what was Onward going to be like? I’m pleased to share with you that all of my preconceived notions about the film were completely wrong.
What is Onward About?
First of all, if you’re like me, you probably have no idea what Onward is going to be about. In the last two weeks leading up to its wide release, it does seem like the marketing has gotten a bit better at divulging more of the basic story so everyone can have a place to start from when viewing this movie.
Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) Lightfoot are brothers who live in a fictional time and place where the use of magic used to be the norm. Their community has fallen away from using magic in favor of “traditional” things like cars, electricity, and appliances. Barley is the older brother who is obsessed with a game that is very similar to Dungeons and Dragons, so when Ian receives a gift of a magical nature from his late father on his 16th birthday, Barley and Ian embark on a “quest” to fulfill that gift as quickly as they can.
Heartfelt Moments in Onward
Fair warning, as with almost all Pixar films, you will probably shed a tear or two on this one. The tears won’t just be because Ian and Barley don’t have a father either. There are very sweet moments between the brothers themselves and their mom, and, having just had a boy myself, it really got me thinking about my son growing up.
I also appreciated this movie for showing a loving relationship between two brothers instead of the typical let’s-beat-each-other-up-to-show-how-much-we-love-each-other mentality of most movies and TV shows.
Also, while not the main focus of the film, other relationships were shown in good light. I can’t imagine how hard it is to see a parent moving on after the death of the other parent. I also can’t imagine the difficulty of being that parent that has to move forward when your spouse has died. The “new boyfriend” dynamic was playful, but also treated with respect.
Any Onward Movie Moments Not Safe for Kids?
Unlike the language debacle in Incredibles 2 (was it really necessary?), there is no language in the Onward movie. Other than a few chaste kisses between mom, Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and her boyfriend, there is also no adult content of a physical nature in this movie.
There are a few moments of peril including two car chases, a scene with pixie bikers (which was hysterical), and a call back to “times of yore” when the “beasts” of the film were much more in tune with their nature. These might cause children under seven to cover their eyes a bit, but the scenes are more funny in nature than scary.
Finally, as an obvious note, the main focus of the story is how much Ian and Barley miss their dad who has passed away. That is a heavy subject for kids to wade through. I think it’s done well and with consideration for all involved parties. Ian appears to be the “focus” of the narrative as he never got to know his dad. However, as you’ll see in the movie, he’s not the only one who was affected by the loss. I think that’s an important topic to remember. When a loved one dies, it has ripple effects on so many, and, unfortunately, we don’t always talk about that.
Should You See Onward or Redbox It?
Considering the lack of family friendly movies this time of year, I definitely think you should see Onward in theaters. It’s an original story with a good message. The characters are charming, the action is well paced, and the art direction is beautiful. If there’s one thing that I consistently love about Pixar movies, it’s their art direction.
So, gather the fam, pick your showing, and head on over to the theater and see Onward! You won’t regret it.
Printable Onward Themed Activities!
Onward was released on digital early! If you want to purchase the movie, download it here now!
If you’re like me and waiting for it to come to Disney+ on April 3, check out these great activities you can download for free right here for more Onward fun while you wait!