ONWARD PARENT MOVIE REVIEW
Pixar has a reputation for telling stories and making us all cry. The newest film from the Pixar Studios is Onward, starring Tom Holland and Chris Pratt as brothers who learn to make magic in order to spend one more day with their father. Who is, of course, dead, as is the Disney way. So is Pixar’s Onward safe for kids? This Onward parent movie review will help you decide how kid-friendly the latest from Pixar is for your family. Onward hits movie theaters on March 6, 2020, VOD March 20, 2020 for $19.99 and on Disney+ on April 3, 2020. Download these Onward Coloring Sheets & Activity Pages for your kids!
About Disney Pixar Onward
Set in a suburban fantasy world, Disney and Pixar’s “Onward” introduces two teenage elf brothers (voices of Chris Pratt and Tom Holland) who embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left out there.
Pixar Animation Studios’ all-new original feature film is directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae—the team behind “Monsters University.” “Onward” releases in theaters on March 6, 2020.
It’s available VOD March 20, 2020 for $19.99 and on Disney+ on April 3, 2020.
Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Disney Pixar Onward Parent Movie Review
Pixar is at its best when they are developing new worlds and characters.
And for that reason alone, audiences will enjoy their time with Barley and Ian, the Lightfoot brothers who are doing their best to spend one last day with their long-deceased dad via a magical spell.
Barley is a hoot: if you have a role-playing gamer in your life, you’ll recognize so many of Barley’s quirks. He’s a relatable and generous older brother currently spending his gap year working on his van and playing Quests of Yore.
Ian is a very typical teen; awkward and timid, but wanting to be bold. If you have a teen in your house, you’ll likely recognize Ian because this is where most kids find themselves at this age.
This story is sweet and something different from recent Pixar movies. And that alone is worth watching. While I do love a good sequel, I’m still not on board with all the sequels all the time- looking at you, Toy Story 4.
I love the unique brand of creativity that only Pixar brings to our movie-going experiences so this was a much-needed breath of fresh air from the studio.
As a reminder, before Onward, 4 of the last 5 Pixar movies have been sequels- and the single stand-alone (Coco) was undeniably the best of the bunch. While Onward is not on the same level as Coco, it was still pretty fun and had some clever and fresh moments.
As a movie aimed toward kids, the characters were a welcome change. The teen boys were delightful and respectful to their single mother. Their relationship plays out beautifully on screen and became the pivotal part of the whole film.
It’s a movie of kindness and love and as a parent, these moments are something you love to show your children on screen.
And, of course, the “Pixar made me cry” streak is still intact.
When Can You Pee During Onward?
If you’re taking the kids, you need this info.
Because you don’t want to miss a sweet moment or a super funny one thanks to a wee bladder.
Yours or theirs.
Here are my non-spoiler moments pointing out when you can pee during Onward.
Is Onward Safe For Kids?
The big question for parents is how kid-friendly is Onward? Is Onward safe for kids?
With two big names in the Marvel Universe voicing the main cast, I have a feeling many young children will want to see the movie because Spider-Man and Star-Lord are in it.
Well, not quite. But Tom Holland and Chris Pratt do voice the characters, and they do it with their expected levels of charm and humor.
Language In Onward
Look, don’t get mad and be like- it’s Pixar! It’s rated PG! Of course, there’s no bad language in this movie!
While all that is true and the language in Onward is safe for kids, we were still talking Chris Pratt- ahem. I do love him (and his potty mouth) but I had concerns about him being able to stick to the script.
Sorry, Chris, I totally underestimated you. Please forgive me!
I didn’t catch any language that would be concerning for young kids. Huzzah!
Violence in Onward: Is It Family Friendly?
Overall, the violence in Onward is aimed at objects and not people.
A van meets an untimely demise and there’s a scene reminiscent of Indiana Jones, and the Manticore has a few intense moments. Think magical quest and roleplaying type weapons and violence (fire, jump scares, battle axes and swords).
But overall, this isn’t a movie that I’m cautioning too much on personal violence or “will terrify your child” level.
Adult Content in Onward
There’s no sex in Onward, but you do see a big blue butt crack.
It’s not a long scene, but, yeah, it’s there- and yes, it’s Chris Pratt’s character. I mean, it feels a little on brand if you know the actor but I also don’t think he had say in the animation so I give Chris a pass here.
There is also a mention of an LGBTQ relationship that happens so quickly I missed it. Completely flew past me.
Going in, I expected the LGBTQ representation in the movie but had to ask my fellow critics afterward what I missed.
So: yay for Pixar for including an openly gay character but also? It blipped on the screen. Sigh. We’ll get there.
Death Of A Parent In Onward
I discuss Mr. Lightfoot’s death in this part of the review and small details could be a mild spoiler. If that is not pertinent to your decision on taking the kids, then you can end the review here.
As with Disney, the death of a parent feels par for the course. And that’s not different here.
If you don’t want spoilers at all, you can read through to the next bold heading.
The whole movie will absolutely make you cry, but it’s not even because of the death, but the lives lead in the aftermath that will bring the tears. You may not sob, but you will have a moment or two when the whole film comes together.
And it’s a beautiful testament to family and what family means. Pixar’s Onward reminds us that it’s not just who birthed you but also who raised you that makes your family.
Bottom line: Onward is not the best Pixar has done, but it’s not the worst either. It’s a delightful and beautiful movie with some laughs and some deep moments that is generally suitable for kids.
Okay- ready for those Onward spoilers? I’m only talking about the general circumstances of Mr. Lightfoot, so it’s truly mild but might be helpful for parents deciding if Onward is kid-friendly for their family.
Mr. Lightfoot’s Passing – Mild Spoilers Here
The entire movie plot revolves around the two teen boys getting a chance to spend one last day with their deceased father. This is not the spoiler as it’s a known storyline.
The boys perform a spell Dad left for him upon his death, but it only half works. The kids embark on a quest to complete the spell and spend time with Dad.
This is where your family situation and the sensitivity of your child will play into deciding if Onward is safe for kids in your family.
The back story comes out through the movie: Mr. Lightfoot got sick and passed away from an unspecified illness. Barley’s one life regret- not going in and saying goodbye to Dad. This shapes his life going forward- and also gives many of the best Onward movie quotes. That’s it as far as possible spoilers are concerned.
If your family situation is along these lines, you might want to reconsider watching this one in the theater with small children. It could be a bit heavy for them to handle.
Heck, even adults might need this info because: well, it’s Pixar and they are masterful at pulling out the tears and feelings in movies like this. So is Onward safe for kids? How about safe for your heart?
Y’all- bring the tissues. But you’re not new here, right? Right.
Patty Holliday is a movie critic, writer, and podcaster living in the Washington, DC area. Her goal is to bridge the gap between casual fandom and picky critic with parent movie and television reviews.