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Why I Struggled with Onward

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Disney and Pixar are at it again, releasing Onward to audiences worldwide today.  Onward was not exactly what I was expecting so today I am sharing a bit of what we loved and why I struggled with Onward as well. 

Disclosure: We are partners with Disney.  All opinions are my own. 

Why I struggled with Onward

My Honest Opinions on Onward

I was really excited to see the new Disney Pixar movie, Onward.  It looked like a magical adventure with great animation and a fun storyline and honestly Disney and Pixar always deliver, so my expectations were super high.  Onward was good, but it was not at all what I was expecting and I left the theater with some mixed emotions. 

Onward Movie Poster

It has actually taken me over a week to write this review because I really have been processing my thoughts around this movie.  Don’t get me wrong, Onward was a good children’s movie and the relationships that it highlighted were excellent and something that we haven’t seen before, however, there were some things that I just didn’t love and I feel like I need to share those to prepare other parents for conversations they may not be ready to have.

What I Loved about Onward

Onward movie photos Ian and Barley

In Disney and Pixar’s “Onward,” brothers Ian and Barley (voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) are given a gift that allows them to conjure their dad—half of him, anyway—for one magical day. Their subsequent quest to conjure the rest of him is filled with magic, impossible obstacles and some unforgettable moments. Directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae, “Onward” opens in U.S. theaters on March 6, 2020.  © 2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

1. Relationships

Relationships are the glue that hold us all together.  How we each interact with each other, the trials and tribulations that we encounter and how we support each other through life are valuable things for children to see.  Not every relationship is going to be perfect, siblings will fight but they will love just as hard, family units are not always the mom, dad and 2.5 children and that is ok. Onward truly did a good job showcasing family units, and interactions.  From siblings bickering, to parents and step-parents interacting for the common good, to just plain love, this aspect of Onward was on point. 

2. Adventure

If you would ask what my kids loved the most about Onward they would say that they loved the magic and adventure.  They laughed and held their breath all in one scene.  They kept wondering what would happen next and my son loved that it had a Dungeons and Dragons theme throughout.  It was fun to see the characters taking on challenges and problem solving and coming together in a big adventure. 

3. Animation

Now I have read the reviews from other folks and they are complaining about the animation and character choices.  I actually liked them.  I thought it was fun to see how they used mythological creatures to show the evolution of technology and more and I really loved the animation overall.  I thought it was very colorful, well done and fit the story nicely.

Why I Struggled with Onward

The last 11 years of our life have been wrought with loss of so many beloved people.  It has been a hurricane of death and if you are taking children to see this, you need to know that (spoiler alert) Ian and Barley have lost their father and are trying to bring him back to life for one day to do and say all the things they missed out on.  We walked out of the theater and my little one asked me if we could bring back a few of the people that have died…with magic. 

Onward Movie Photos

In Disney and Pixar’s “Onward,” brothers Ian and Barley embark on an epic quest in an effort to conjure their late dad for one magical day. Among the magical spells they must do within the quest, one of the biggest involves crossing a massive crevasse with nothing but Ian’s own faith beneath his feet. Featuring Tom Holland as the voice of Ian, and Chris Pratt as the voice of Barley, “Onward” opens in U.S. theaters on March 6, 2020.  © 2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

I wish kiddo, I wish, and that is where my struggle lies.  The movie was an emotional trigger for a family that has been through some pretty extreme trauma and loss.  We are not the only family going through this and I wonder if other families that have experienced similar experiences will feel like the same.  The last week has been a lot of questions and a lot of emotions and it almost felt like we were going through some of that loss again.  I just wasn’t prepared. Do I think that my families emotional response to this movie makes it a bad movie…no way, but I do feel like parents should know that it may cause some questions and emotions they were not prepared for. 

Onward was overall a good Disney Pixar movie, that touched on some tough subjects.  You can check it out in theaters now.

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