McCoy on Movies: Onward

McCoy on Movies: Onward

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Disney•Pixar gives this animated, emotional, teenage sibling tale a Weekend at Bernies flair in its latest adventure. Read on to see if it’s worth the watch.


“If this weren’t an animated movie and this were happening, one of us would be on the way to the hospital!” Barley (left, voiced by Chris Pratt) and his brother Ian (right, voiced by Tom Holland) share a dance with their father – or at least half of him – in a scene from Disney/Pixar’s latest adventure ONWARD. Credit: Pixar © 2019 Disney/Pixar. All rights reserved.



KEY CAST MEMBERS: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Octavia Spencer, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss Mel Rodriguez, Lena Waithe and Ali WongDIRECTOR(S): Dan Scanlon

THE BACK STORY: Once upon a time, the world in which elf brothers Barley (Chris Pratt) and Ian (Tom Holland) Lightfoot now live was full of magic. But then innovation in the form of technology took over, leaving magic to fade into the point of almost existing as nothing more than folklore. And for Barley, that’s something he misses greatly as magic and lore is his favorite thing in the world. In contrast, Ian doesn’t really know what his favorite thing yet as his shy, awkward nature often keeps him from socializing – which is a problem since he’s about to celebrate his 16th birthday. His mom Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) just wants the best for both her sons, even though there’s something she knows that Ian misses his father Wilden something awful. Passing away during Ian’s youth, Wilden is an enigma to his youngest son who wishes he could just get the chance to spend some quality time with him.

Then, Laurel reveals a gift from Wilden that changes everything … If they are able to complete a magical quest like the ones Barley has been training for his entire life. Now, it’s up to both boys – despite all the colorful characters they’ll meet along the way – to make their wish to see their father again come true.

And to do so, they must move onward …

THE REVIEW: At this point, Disney•Pixar has pretty much perfected the way it makes movies to a science: (1) Insert cutesy scenario with characters that at first seem nice and whimsical; (2) Add emotional depth to the story by making the most non-human characters as human as possible with a variety of emotional struggles; (3) Add enough depth to make them relatable to the struggles of young people while at the same time making them palatable to adults – or in the case of Up, reverse the formula and (4) Bring the story to an emotional, action-packed climax with the occasional twist, turn and dose of comedy that everyone has come to love.Onward, which begins with a more serious, straightforward tone than many Disney•Pixar ventures, does all four of these things to deliver the quality entertainment for three decades-plus.

Adolescence is a popular movie staple for a simple reason: It’s a time period that so many struggle with yet shapes us all in so many long-lasting yet unique to us all ways that you can seemingly never run out of means to do so. With Onward, Disney•Pixar explores sibling rivalry, the path to self-discovery and the importance of a parental figure/mentor in a child’s life – all with the humor, conflict and heartwarming resolution audiences love. Holland, essentially channeling all of his Peter Parker energy into Ian, delivers a solid performance that gets to the heart of his character’s issues, which makes his eventual outcome all the more worthwhile. Pratt for his part plays a great second banana to steer Holland’s character through his journey. Likewise, Waithe adds a much-needed dose of playful enthusiasm as The Manticore, a legendary creature who has fallen victim to the convenience of the modern world and director Dan Scanlon’s Weekend at Bernie’s-like usage of the boys’ father.

It all adds up to an entertaining package which should inspire audience to march onward to the theater to enjoy another (near) perfect Disney•Pixar entertaining, family-friendly adventure.


Publisher & CEO - Amy Scalia, a Cincinnati native, is the editor in chief and publisher of Cincy Chic. Send her an e-mail at From growing up in the cornfields of Harrison and getting a Mass Communications B.A. degree in the bubble of Oxford, to living on the NKY side of the river in Newport and then Ft. Thomas, Amy Scalia has embraced Cincinnati with her presence. Her major life accomplishments include: being a mom of two girls and a boy, a 2010 "40 Under 40" recipient from the Cincinnati Business Courier, winning the "Best New Product/Service of the Year" Award from the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce and a national Web-writing award from ASHPE in 2007, a national feature writing award from ASBPE in 2006, and running three Flying Pig Marathons.