2021 Oscar Reviews: Onward

For the past several years, I’ve attempted to watch as many Oscar-nominated films as possible, and for the past two years I have written reviews of each film and posted them to this blog. Alas, I always run out of time and cannot see everything. This year’ ceremony has been delayed, and I started reviewing before nominations were announced, giving me a decent chance at wide coverage. Today we cover…


[one nomination for Best Animated Feature]

“So what did you think?” I asked my spouse as the credits rolled.

“I think I would have liked it if I had paid attention to it.”

Indeed. This is pretty much how I felt as well. I’ve hit another point of movie fatigue, which is of course not fair to the movie I happened to be on when that movie set in. But there it is. There are two main things to know about Onward, from the bits I managed to pay attention to:

1. This entire movie is about two brothers who try to resurrect their dead father. So it starts and ends very sad. I mean VERY sad. The middle is just fun adventures, but the bits where we focus on the dead dad are… oh man… they are heavy stuff. I remember exclaiming “Oh come on! I’m crying during ONWARD?! The Chris Pratt as an animated elf movie?! GAH!”

2. The brothers get halfway through resurrecting their dad but them something goes awry, and they’re stuck with just their dad’s bottom half. They then travel with this bottom half for the entire rest of the movie. This is VERY VERY WEIRD. It’s also very funny, but… just so weird! Look at those dad pants! The pants also lead to some of the best gags of the whole movie. First, they drag the dad legs around on a retractable dog leash (er, dragon leash). Second, they go full Weekend At Bernie’s and construct a weird slumpy torso that somehow balances on the weird shining leg pants. It is, admittedly, very funny.

The rest of the film is standard Pixar fare. We have a kinda dumb premise about a magical land where people stopped using magic. We have really great modeling. We have solid visual gags and jokes. We have famous people as the main characters. The adventure itself was dumb and boring, as is the case with most kids’ movies, and I definitely lost interest frequently. But Pixar is always dependably solid, and this movie is no exception.

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