When you lose someone important in life, you’ll be willing to do almost anything for a chance to have them back for even a short period of time. In Pixar’s newest movie, it’s not just Disney magic that makes that happen for Ian and Barley. From these two night-and-day brothers, we are reminded that magic is everywhere if we just believe. My following Onward review won’t give anything away, but hopefully will inspire you to follow your heart’s fire.
Ian and Barley were raised by their mom after the death of their dad, apparently when their mom was pregnant with Ian. Barley has four memories with his father, including a foot-drumming game they played when he was small. Both dealing with childhood grief in different ways, Ian has no memories of his dad at all, and on his 16th birthday, he and Barley are gifted with one that they can share: a magical staff and its accompanying spell, designed to unite them as they bring their dad back to life for 24 hours.
But it’s not that easy, much as nothing important in life is. The brothers face some challenges when the spell only partially works, leaving their dad with them only halfway. Literally, halfway. They have 24 hours to bring the rest of their dad’s body back to life, so using Barley’s extensive gaming experience, they go on a quest to find the Phoenix gem, the one piece they need to finish the spell.
While traveling in Barley’s beloved van, Guinevere, the brothers discuss what they’re going to do with their time with their father. Ian’s list is sharing his whole life with his dad, while Barley’s more easily satisfied, as he wants to tell his dad about his rebuilt van and find out what his wizard name was. This difference is just one example of how different the two boys are.
Ian’s shy and insightful, while Barley’s boisterous and displays a passionate, no-holds-barred approach to everything he does. The two don’t always see eye-to-eye and it comes to a head when the journey doesn’t go as planned….and that’s where things get really adventurous.
Despite the end result of their quest, the brothers form a new bond. They learn to appreciate their differences. Ian loosens up a little and realizes he had a hero right next to him all along, and Barley gains the confidence he needs to take life a little more seriously.
The movie is a good lesson in life for all ages, with its reminder that we’re all different. Appearances are just one way in which we show ourselves and whether we’re an elf or a dragon or a trash unicorn, we have something good to contribute to the world. Sometimes we may have to go after what we need, just put the gear shift on “O,” for Onward, and gun it.
Heroes don’t need to be celebrities or sports icons or millionaires. They are right next to us, as our brothers, our mothers and friendly dragons running a tavern. They make sacrifices and they show their love in ways that transcend money and objects. They are the ones with whom we move onward.
Pixar’s Onward hits theaters on March 6, 2020. Below is the official trailer. Enjoy the fun and magic, and let their mom, the mighty warrior, remind you that we parents will do anything for our kids!
We also had the joy of attending the blue carpet premiere of Onward. Disney’s magic knows no bounds.