With everyone social distancing and staying close to home in the current climate, theatrical releases of movies are taking a hard hit. Film studios are changing their models on the fly, quickly revising their release plans to include early on-demand rentals and streaming options. Disney already moved up Frozen II’s Disney+ release to March 15, months ahead of what would have been the traditional video and streaming release date. As of Friday, March 20, Disney and Pixar made their latest film, Onward, available to purchase digitally, and the movie will debut on Disney+ just two weeks later, on April 3.
Like most Pixar films, Onward is an emotional family story wrapped in a goofy and magical animated tale. Two teen elf brothers (voiced by Marvel alums Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) are gifted with a magical opportunity to spend one day with their late dad. When things go sideways, they embark on the fairy tale quest to complete the spell and grasp this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Set in a modern fantasy world where magical creatures live in the suburbs, drive minivans, and jazzercise, Onward is witty, charming, and about what you’d expect from the creative minds at Pixar.
How to watch Onward
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Opening March 6, Onward was quick to earn rave reviews from both audiences and critics in its first two weeks in theaters. Over that time, it held a solid 95% approval rating from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, with a not-too-shabby 87% from critics. Onward features the voices of not just Holland and Pratt, but also Julia Louis-Dreyfus as their fearless mom Laurel, and Octavia Spencer as The Manticore, a former warrior who teams up with Laurel to help find her sons.
The impetuous for the brothers’ magical quest came in large part from director (and co-writer) Dan Scanlon’s relationship with his brother and their late father. In a broader sense, it captures the feeling everyone has about those we have lost and what we might do to spend one more day with them. While dealing with deeper family issues, Onward also uses the quest as a classic story of personal grown for its characters. The brothers’ adventure may be filled with magic spells, unexpected obstacles, cryptic maps, and a little real-life dungeons and dragons, but it is really about one’s potential and finding your inner magic. While cautious and awkward Ian must learn to take risks and trust his abilities, his older brother Barley needs to stop living in a fantasy and find a balance between his free spirit and living in the present. The brothers must come to believe in themselves, their strengths, and shrug off self-doubts.
It sounds like a lot of ground to cover, but in true Pixar fashion, Onward manages to take audiences on both a riotous adventure and a more profound journey of the heart.
Check out the trailer for Onward below:
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