Ian’s (Tom Holland) sixteenth birthday isn’t going as planned. He created a list of ways he was going to change, but fails at all of them. As his disaster of a day is ending, his mom (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) gives him and his older brother Barley (Chris Pratt) a gift from their father. The gift is a large staff and a spell, remnants from a time when there was magic in the world. If the spell is done properly, their father, who died when Ian was too young to remember, would appear and have 24 hours to spend with them. Desperate to see their father, Ian and Barley do their best to perform the spell. However, like everything else Ian has tried today, it doesn’t go as well as he hoped.

With the clock ticking, Ian and Barley set out on a quest to find the gem that will let them complete the spell. It is a quest that has them come face to face with the dangerous Manticore (Octavia Spencer) and down the Path of Peril. Fortunately, Barley spends all his free time playing a “historically accurate” role playing game. Ian wants little to do with Barley’s nonsense as he leads them through longer, more dangerous paths to find the gem. Frustrated and with his patience wearing thin with Barley, Ian is losing all hope of actually meeting his father.

Onward is the latest from Disney/Pixar that shows they really know how to make a beautiful looking movie with an excellent story. It isn’t surprising, but it is amazing they are able to continue this streak for so long.

Continuing in the Disney tradition, of course there is a tragic storyline underlying the whole movie. The way it is told creates a few gut punch moments that can catch you off guard. But then they wrap it in an exciting story full of adventure, touching moments between brothers, and humor. It is a well balanced mix that keeps the story entertaining and moving. It also keeps the film light enough that it isn’t overwhelmingly sad while not sacrificing the heart of the story.

As I mentioned, the film is visually stunning. It is everything we expect from arguably the most successful animation studio. From the sprawling backdrops, to the fantastical characters, to the visual effects of the magic, it is all expertly crafted. Add to this the voice talents of Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Octavia Spencer, among the rest, and you have an all around excellent film.

Onward is a great film the whole family can enjoy. The story has a great message and it is just a fun experience. Grab the kids and head to the theater to check it out.

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