Onward Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Pros: a world in which fairy-tale creatures have forgotten about magic and turned to technology; humor; road movie format; touching message Cons: Pixar’s animation isn’t the most impressive; in some ways the adventures have something in common with other cartoons “Forward” / Onward

Genre cartoon
Director Dan Scanlon
Starring: Tom Holland (Ian Lightfoot), Chris Pratt (Barley Lightfoot), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Laurel Lightfoot), Lena Waithe (Spectre), Octavia Spencer (Corey), etc.
Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios
Year of release 2020
IMDb website

The story takes place in a world inhabited by centaurs, cyclops, dragons and even manticores. It looks like reality from a fairy tale, but in fact all these creatures lead ordinary lives, enjoying the benefits of civilization and overcoming everyday difficulties.

For example, teenage elf Ian feels awkward at school, suffering from his own indecisiveness, and his older brother Barley behaves like an eccentric geek obsessed with his car. On Ian’s 16th birthday, the characters receive a gift from their late father that completely changes their outlook on life. First, the brothers learn that magic actually exists. Secondly, they have a chance to spend one day in the company of their beloved dad. To do this, they need to understand how to use a spell that will help resurrect the parent, and also learn to interact with each other.


The story was created by director Dan Scanlon (who worked on the cartoon Monsters University). He wrote the script, which was based on very personal memories of his friendship with his brother, which was being improved after the death of their father. The seriousness of the topic at the center of the cartoon should not repel anyone who is planning to take a child to see the cartoon. In fact, “Onward” shows many moments figuratively, using magic, so there is nothing in it that can scare or greatly upset a young viewer.


The beginning of the story is also not burdensome, everything starts quite cheerfully. Director Scanlon plays with how science and advancing technology have replaced all the magic. This will become a reason for jokes that will appear in the plot until the very end of the cartoon. In addition, history is literally replete with various characters who behave exactly like people, ignoring their hooves or, say, the presence of wings.


At some point, “Onward” becomes a real animated road movie, where there is room for chases, exploration of unplanned routes and, as is often the case, heartfelt conversations inspired by the adventures experienced. It seems that the goal set by the main characters will help quickly go through the events and at the same time amuse viewers of any age. This is true, but Dan Scanlon’s script very sensitively and carefully brings the story’s ending to a touching conclusion concerning family. The idea of ​​the script is so good that the cartoon wants to forgive any imperfections.


As for the shortcomings, what worked against the new Pixar cartoon was that the studio had previously released decent cartoons, which in some places overlapped with the new work, and even with a more successful animation style. Unfortunately, not all events in Onward are equally exciting, but fortunately, they all lead to an interesting ending.


But what hasn’t been seen in Pixar animated films before is LGBT characters. In the cartoon “Forward”, such a hero appears for the first time – this is a cyclops policewoman named Specter, whom the elf brothers will meet on their way. To be honest, her story in the plot is more conventional than clearly defined. Without knowing what meaning the creators put into her character, the viewer will simply lose sight of it, remembering only the law enforcement representative trying to deal with suspicious drivers. Specter simply does not have time for self-presentation or any story.


In general, the cartoon is similar to a quest that the main characters go through, simultaneously revealing their best traits and realizing the value of loved ones. “Onward” is definitely worth watching, even if the animation is not exciting at first glance.


the cartoon shows elements of a road movie and urban fantasy. Its creators use magical plot twists to convey the value of family.

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