Dir: Dan Scanlon. Starring: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Ali Wong, Lena Waithe, Mel Rodriguez. PG cert, 114 mins
Pixars Onward starts with a declaration: Long ago, the world was filled with wonder. The camera sweeps over visions of paladins, bards, and wizards all borrowed lovingly from the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons or JRR Tolkiens The Lord of the Rings. But it took hard work and skill to master spells and swordsmanship, the voiceover continues, so gremlins and elves alike moved on to something more convenient: technology. Magic began to fade out of memory.
But Onward isnt here to scold us all for becoming addicted to our iPhones. A film crafted entirely on computers wouldnt have a leg to stand on in that regard. Instead, its a reminder of how easily the creative spark can be lost within the mundane, simple routines of modern life. The concept makes sense for a studio that promised last year it would finally move on from sequels, post-Toy Story 4.
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The narrative here concerns two elf brothers, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt), who were raised by their attentive and sprightly mother Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). The boys father died before Ian was born, while Barley was so young that he only has a handful of recollections of him. On Ians 16th birthday, Laurel reveals that their father had left behind a handful of gifts: a wizards staff, a rare phoenix gem, and a spell that can bring him back from the dead for 24 hours. But the spell backfires. The gem shatters. If they ever want to see their father again, even for the briefest moment of time, the brothers must set out on an epic adventure to the very edges of the map.
Barley is his worlds version of a nostalgist. He insists that the roleplaying game hes based his life around, Quests of Yore, is a historically accurate catalogue of how things once were. His scrapheap-ready, hippie van is actually a knightly steed, christened Guinevere. But to those around him, such passions are just the signs of emotional immaturity. Hes a young man on the worlds longest gap year who refuses to take the next step in life. And while Ian loves him, theres a part of him that cant help but agree that his brothers a lost cause, especially when Barleys one-track mind risks derailing his one chance to meet his dad. Barley, in turn, only wishes his brother wouldnt dismiss him so easily. 
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1/30 30. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
Although the film may feel relatively slight compared to the other titans of animation on this list, there is something so wonderfully zen about this Pooh, filtering the wise words of AA Milne through the slow, thoughtful tones of Sterling Holloway.
2/30 29. Bambi (1942)
Bambi isnt exactly the most action-packed Disney film around, and its hard to imagine many people are getting a kick out of the singalong version to April Showers. But is there any bigger shock to the system for a child at the movies than the sudden, ruthless slaughtering of Bambis mother?
3/30 28. Pocahontas (1995)
Of the Disney Renaissance offerings, Pocahontas stumbles in its messy handling of history, since turning any interaction between white colonisers and indigenous people into a fluffy romance arguably whitewashes the brutal reality of what happened. But there are plenty of positives to be found, since Pocahontas was such a huge influence in Disneys later portrayals of strong, independently minded women.
4/30 27. The Aristocats (1971)
The film may be relatively light on story (its basically Lady and the Tramp, but theres an added kidnap element), but who cares, when the film features the hottest party of the entire Disney franchise? Its true what they say: Everybody wants to be a cat.
5/30 26. Robin Hood (1973)
In a way, Robin Hood is the ultimate Disney film of the 1970s. Its a folksy, low-key entry into the canon thats all about keeping the peace and spreading good vibes. Just ignore the fact that it recycled several pieces of animation from the likes of Snow White and The Jungle Book.
6/30 25. Zootopia (2016)
It may not have spawned the same level of craze as Frozen did, but Zootopia doesnt deserve to become another forgotten Disney film. Although its as funny as youd hope from a film about animals with jobs, it also offers parents an easy entry point to talk to their kids about racism and xenophobia. And thats something that shouldnt be taken for granted.
7/30 24. Dumbo (1941)
Dumbo demonstrates the two gifts of early Disney films. Theres the capacity for moments that are pure and heartwrenching, as seen in Baby Mine (a scene thats almost impossible to watch without welling up). Then theres the ability to descend into the totally bizarre, as characterised by the downright scary Pink Elephants on Parade sequence.
8/30 23. Tangled (2010)
Tangled finds fun, humour, and adventure in its reimagining of the Rapunzel tale, but whats crucial to its success is how it anchors the entire film around a single, showstopping sequence: I See the Light, where Rapunzel watches hundreds of paper lanterns float up into the skies. Its, quite simply, a beautiful piece of filmmaking.
9/30 22. Princess and the Frog (2009)
Disneys brief return to traditional animation reminded us what had been lost in the switch to 3D animation. Theres a wonderful sense of artistry to how The Princess and the Frog renders New Orleans during the Jazz Age, especially in the Art Deco stylised number Almost There. And a Disney princess working hard to make her dreams come true? Thats something to celebrate.
10/30 21. Cinderella (1950)
Although Cinderella is a central member of the Disney princesses, her film hasnt aged quite as well as the rest of the early Disney films. Theres an odd amount of time spent on Lucifer the cat, and relatively little time spent at Cinderellas magical soiree.
11/30 20. One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
Cruella de Vil may have committed attempted puppy murder, but theres still something irresistibly delightful about her Patsy from Ab Fab combination of luxury goods and frightening taste. Only Cruella could answer a simple How are you? with the line: “Miserable darling, as usual, perfectly wretched.
12/30 19. Lady and the Tramp (1955)
One of several films on this list containing problematic material, Lady and the Tramp certainly isnt a faultless film. However, given that the central courtship is between two dogs, the film boasts a surprisingly elegant love story. Not only is there the famous Bella Notte scene and its accidental spaghetti kiss, but the crooning Pekingese, voiced by Peggy Lee, is simply sublime.
13/30 18. Moana (2016)
Disney took the straightfoward path to making a hit musical for today: they hired Lin-Manuel Miranda. The Hamilton composer and lyricist is a maestro when it comes to cranking out the hits. Opetaia Foa’i helped create the soundtracks South Pacific touches, while Dwayne Johnson even wheeled out some light rapping for his performance as the demigod Maui. Moana tells a culturally specific story with spirit, heart, and humour more of this in the future please, Disney.
14/30 17. The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
The Emperors New Groove never quite got the appreciation it deserved when it was first released, largely because, like Lilo & Stitch, its been tossed aside as another forgettable post-Disney Renaissance entry. Not so fast: though it may not have the epic scale of Mulan or Beauty and the Beast, The Emperors New Groove is a funny, endlessly quotable (Pull the lever, Kronk!) Disney film that most importantly finally let Eartha Kitt voice a Disney villain.
15/30 16. Frozen (2013)
It may be every modern parents least favourite Disney film, but Frozen is actually pretty great if youve not been forced to watch it five times a day, seven days a week. On top of a moving central story about self-acceptance and sisterly love, Idina Menzels rendition of Let it Go is a showstopper tune that demands to belted at least once at every karaoke night.
16/30 15. Peter Pan (1953)
A flight of fancy that celebrates the power of imagination, JM Barries Peter Pan was always an obvious fit for Disney. The film presents an uplifting and limitless world to younger audiences, while letting the adults pretend miserable things like taxes and divorce dont exist for a precious hour and a bit. Plus, Tinker Bell seems like a vicious gossip and the ideal person to go for a drink with, even if she doesnt quite speak our language.
17/30 14. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Its the film that started it all. Although Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has since been overshadowed by its successors to some degree, it still has its fair share of magical moments. Theres the small army of birds and rodents that come to Snow Whites aid during Whistle While You Work, and the Evil Queen, gone full Joan Crawford, delivering her oft misquoted line: Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all.
18/30 13. Hercules (1997)
A round of applause for John Musker, who had the idea of telling the Greek myth of Hercules through a chorus of gospel singers. They are, without a doubt, the true heroes of this film, thanks to the insanely catchy Zero to Hero. That said, Megaras definitely a close runner-up for the title, since her Im a damsel. Im in distress. I can handle this routine made her the go-to Disney princess for the cool kids.
19/30 12. Mulan (1998)
Let them deny it all they want, but youll be hard-pressed to find a Nineties kid who hasnt secretly put Ill Make a Man Out of You on their workout playlist. The whole film, in fact, is a power anthem, while Mulans one-woman feminist revolution makes her one of those rare multitasking princesses who can do a lot more than just win over a handsome prince.
20/30 11. The Jungle Book (1967)
As the very last film to be produced by Walt Disney himself, The Jungle Book marked the end of an era for the studio. The film captures the kind of easy charm that made Disneys work such a huge part of so many childhoods in the first place. As Baloo eases into The Bear Necessities, it feels very much like someones come to gently pat you on the shoulder and tell you everythings going to be alright.
21/30 10. Aladdin (1992)
Aladdin may have plenty of tricks up its sleeve, but it deserves its place in the upper echelons of Disney films purely on the strength of Robin Williamss performance as Genie. The comedy actor recorded over 18 hours of additional improvised material for the film, and the finished product is one of the greatest existing tributes to his manic energy as a performer, alongside his vast gallery of impressions.
22/30 9. Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Another magnificent adaptation of complex source material, Disneys take on Alice in Wonderland doesnt get lost in Lewis Carolls maze of wordplay, but cooks up its own delightful nonsense. Alice gets read to filth by a patch of garden flowers, Ed Wynns Mad Hatter oozes moneyed eccentricity, and there is a general psychedelic vibe to the whole affair. Alice in Wonderland was initially a flop, but theres no denying its status as a cult classic now.
23/30 8. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is easily the most adult Disney film ever made. Theres religious hypocrisy, lust, genocide, prejudice, violent misogyny, infanticide, and corruption take your pick! Although Disney certainly used a little creative license in adapting the 19th-century Victor Hugo novel (there are no singing gargoyles in the original, sadly), its surprising how fluently its central themes have been translated without threatening the films PG rating.
24/30 7. Lilo and Stitch (2002)
Although it was technically released in the dip that followed the Disney Renaissance, Lilo & Stitch is a highly underrated entry that deserves to sit among the classics. Few Disney films speak to real experiences like it does. Look past the alien intruders and Stitchs more unusual characteristics, and youll find a reminder that family is defined only as those who love and support us, no matter where we find them. Its a simple but pure message, elevated by a cast of characters who act and speak like those we recognise in our own lives.
25/30 6. Pinocchio (1940)
This is the Disney film that comes closest to a David Lynch fever dream. Putting When You Wish Upon a Star the song that best captures Walt Disneys dream aside for a moment, lets remember just how much of a surrealist nightmare the Pleasure Island sequence really is. Be virtuous or youll be turned into a literal donkey, was quite the threat for an America only recently freed from the grip of Prohibition. Its a weird and wonderful entry from Disneys early years.
26/30 5. The Little Mermaid (1989)
Were free to question Ariels decision to trade her voice so she can chase after a cute guy she met only once, but she will always remain the most loveable dinglehopper-collecting weirdo around. Ariels unquenchable curiosity is what makes this aquatic tale so charming, second only to the fact its villain was inspired by the legendary Divine. Plus, Under the Sea is such a party tune.
27/30 4. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Sleeping Beauty is Disneys most beautiful film, thanks to the fact artists John Hench and Eyvind Earle drew heavily from Medieval tapestries, Renaissance art, and even Japanese prints. It gives the feeling of actually flipping through a storybook, as Aurora wanders a forest that looks as if its made entirely of stained glass. And, truly, has there ever been a Disney villain as deviously elegant as Maleficient?
28/30 3. Fantasia (1940)
One of Disneys boldest and most avant garde films, Fantasia is simply masterful in its concept. A musical education for many young viewers, the film pairs classical pieces with short animated stories, each wildly different and inventive in its own right. Although Mickeys appearance in The Sorcerers Apprentice has had a life of its own outside of the original film, anyone who grew up with Fantasia is probably more likely to remember the nightmares Chernabog gave them the Night on Bald Mountain sequence is unlike anything else in the Disney canon.
29/30 2. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
If you need a sign of exactly how impressive a piece of filmmaking Beauty and the Beast is, reflect on the fact that a love story between a woman and a buffalo-bear-man is the first animated film ever to have been nominated for an Academy Award. And this is nearly two decades before The Shape of Water brought interspecies romance to the ceremony. This is truly a tale as old as time, with a lush Alan Menken score (with lyrics by Howard Ashman) and a smart, relatable heroine in Belle.
30/30 1. The Lion King (1994)
Produced at the height of Disneys Renaissance in the 1990s, The Lion King is an epic testament to what animation can achieve as a medium. Can it match the power of its source material, William Shakespeares Hamlet? Well, when Rafiki lifts an infant Simba up to the skies, as an entire kingdom of savannah creatures bows in servitude, all soundtracked to Circle of Life, you cant help but feel momentarily convinced. A film of stunning vistas, heart-wrenching tragedy, and memorable musical moments, theres no doubt that The Lion King deserves its place as one of the greatest animated films of all time.
1/30 30. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
Although the film may feel relatively slight compared to the other titans of animation on this list, there is something so wonderfully zen about this Pooh, filtering the wise words of AA Milne through the slow, thoughtful tones of Sterling Holloway.
2/30 29. Bambi (1942)
Bambi isnt exactly the most action-packed Disney film around, and its hard to imagine many people are getting a kick out of the singalong version to April Showers. But is there any bigger shock to the system for a child at the movies than the sudden, ruthless slaughtering of Bambis mother?
3/30 28. Pocahontas (1995)
Of the Disney Renaissance offerings, Pocahontas stumbles in its messy handling of history, since turning any interaction between white colonisers and indigenous people into a fluffy romance arguably whitewashes the brutal reality of what happened. But there are plenty of positives to be found, since Pocahontas was such a huge influence in Disneys later portrayals of strong, independently minded women.
4/30 27. The Aristocats (1971)
The film may be relatively light on story (its basically Lady and the Tramp, but theres an added kidnap element), but who cares, when the film features the hottest party of the entire Disney franchise? Its true what they say: Everybody wants to be a cat.
5/30 26. Robin Hood (1973)
In a way, Robin Hood is the ultimate Disney film of the 1970s. Its a folksy, low-key entry into the canon thats all about keeping the peace and spreading good vibes. Just ignore the fact that it recycled several pieces of animation from the likes of Snow White and The Jungle Book.
6/30 25. Zootopia (2016)
It may not have spawned the same level of craze as Frozen did, but Zootopia doesnt deserve to become another forgotten Disney film. Although its as funny as youd hope from a film about animals with jobs, it also offers parents an easy entry point to talk to their kids about racism and xenophobia. And thats something that shouldnt be taken for granted.
7/30 24. Dumbo (1941)
Dumbo demonstrates the two gifts of early Disney films. Theres the capacity for moments that are pure and heartwrenching, as seen in Baby Mine (a scene thats almost impossible to watch without welling up). Then theres the ability to descend into the totally bizarre, as characterised by the downright scary Pink Elephants on Parade sequence.
8/30 23. Tangled (2010)
Tangled finds fun, humour, and adventure in its reimagining of the Rapunzel tale, but whats crucial to its success is how it anchors the entire film around a single, showstopping sequence: I See the Light, where Rapunzel watches hundreds of paper lanterns float up into the skies. Its, quite simply, a beautiful piece of filmmaking.
9/30 22. Princess and the Frog (2009)
Disneys brief return to traditional animation reminded us what had been lost in the switch to 3D animation. Theres a wonderful sense of artistry to how The Princess and the Frog renders New Orleans during the Jazz Age, especially in the Art Deco stylised number Almost There. And a Disney princess working hard to make her dreams come true? Thats something to celebrate.
10/30 21. Cinderella (1950)
Although Cinderella is a central member of the Disney princesses, her film hasnt aged quite as well as the rest of the early Disney films. Theres an odd amount of time spent on Lucifer the cat, and relatively little time spent at Cinderellas magical soiree.
11/30 20. One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
Cruella de Vil may have committed attempted puppy murder, but theres still something irresistibly delightful about her Patsy from Ab Fab combination of luxury goods and frightening taste. Only Cruella could answer a simple How are you? with the line: “Miserable darling, as usual, perfectly wretched.
12/30 19. Lady and the Tramp (1955)
One of several films on this list containing problematic material, Lady and the Tramp certainly isnt a faultless film. However, given that the central courtship is between two dogs, the film boasts a surprisingly elegant love story. Not only is there the famous Bella Notte scene and its accidental spaghetti kiss, but the crooning Pekingese, voiced by Peggy Lee, is simply sublime.
13/30 18. Moana (2016)
Disney took the straightfoward path to making a hit musical for today: they hired Lin-Manuel Miranda. The Hamilton composer and lyricist is a maestro when it comes to cranking out the hits. Opetaia Foa’i helped create the soundtracks South Pacific touches, while Dwayne Johnson even wheeled out some light rapping for his performance as the demigod Maui. Moana tells a culturally specific story with spirit, heart, and humour more of this in the future please, Disney.
14/30 17. The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
The Emperors New Groove never quite got the appreciation it deserved when it was first released, largely because, like Lilo & Stitch, its been tossed aside as another forgettable post-Disney Renaissance entry. Not so fast: though it may not have the epic scale of Mulan or Beauty and the Beast, The Emperors New Groove is a funny, endlessly quotable (Pull the lever, Kronk!) Disney film that most importantly finally let Eartha Kitt voice a Disney villain.
15/30 16. Frozen (2013)
It may be every modern parents least favourite Disney film, but Frozen is actually pretty great if youve not been forced to watch it five times a day, seven days a week. On top of a moving central story about self-acceptance and sisterly love, Idina Menzels rendition of Let it Go is a showstopper tune that demands to belted at least once at every karaoke night.
16/30 15. Peter Pan (1953)
A flight of fancy that celebrates the power of imagination, JM Barries Peter Pan was always an obvious fit for Disney. The film presents an uplifting and limitless world to younger audiences, while letting the adults pretend miserable things like taxes and divorce dont exist for a precious hour and a bit. Plus, Tinker Bell seems like a vicious gossip and the ideal person to go for a drink with, even if she doesnt quite speak our language.
17/30 14. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Its the film that started it all. Although Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has since been overshadowed by its successors to some degree, it still has its fair share of magical moments. Theres the small army of birds and rodents that come to Snow Whites aid during Whistle While You Work, and the Evil Queen, gone full Joan Crawford, delivering her oft misquoted line: Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all.
18/30 13. Hercules (1997)
A round of applause for John Musker, who had the idea of telling the Greek myth of Hercules through a chorus of gospel singers. They are, without a doubt, the true heroes of this film, thanks to the insanely catchy Zero to Hero. That said, Megaras definitely a close runner-up for the title, since her Im a damsel. Im in distress. I can handle this routine made her the go-to Disney princess for the cool kids.
19/30 12. Mulan (1998)
Let them deny it all they want, but youll be hard-pressed to find a Nineties kid who hasnt secretly put Ill Make a Man Out of You on their workout playlist. The whole film, in fact, is a power anthem, while Mulans one-woman feminist revolution makes her one of those rare multitasking princesses who can do a lot more than just win over a handsome prince.
20/30 11. The Jungle Book (1967)
As the very last film to be produced by Walt Disney himself, The Jungle Book marked the end of an era for the studio. The film captures the kind of easy charm that made Disneys work such a huge part of so many childhoods in the first place. As Baloo eases into The Bear Necessities, it feels very much like someones come to gently pat you on the shoulder and tell you everythings going to be alright.
21/30 10. Aladdin (1992)
Aladdin may have plenty of tricks up its sleeve, but it deserves its place in the upper echelons of Disney films purely on the strength of Robin Williamss performance as Genie. The comedy actor recorded over 18 hours of additional improvised material for the film, and the finished product is one of the greatest existing tributes to his manic energy as a performer, alongside his vast gallery of impressions.
22/30 9. Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Another magnificent adaptation of complex source material, Disneys take on Alice in Wonderland doesnt get lost in Lewis Carolls maze of wordplay, but cooks up its own delightful nonsense. Alice gets read to filth by a patch of garden flowers, Ed Wynns Mad Hatter oozes moneyed eccentricity, and there is a general psychedelic vibe to the whole affair. Alice in Wonderland was initially a flop, but theres no denying its status as a cult classic now.
23/30 8. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is easily the most adult Disney film ever made. Theres religious hypocrisy, lust, genocide, prejudice, violent misogyny, infanticide, and corruption take your pick! Although Disney certainly used a little creative license in adapting the 19th-century Victor Hugo novel (there are no singing gargoyles in the original, sadly), its surprising how fluently its central themes have been translated without threatening the films PG rating.
24/30 7. Lilo and Stitch (2002)
Although it was technically released in the dip that followed the Disney Renaissance, Lilo & Stitch is a highly underrated entry that deserves to sit among the classics. Few Disney films speak to real experiences like it does. Look past the alien intruders and Stitchs more unusual characteristics, and youll find a reminder that family is defined only as those who love and support us, no matter where we find them. Its a simple but pure message, elevated by a cast of characters who act and speak like those we recognise in our own lives.
25/30 6. Pinocchio (1940)
This is the Disney film that comes closest to a David Lynch fever dream. Putting When You Wish Upon a Star the song that best captures Walt Disneys dream aside for a moment, lets remember just how much of a surrealist nightmare the Pleasure Island sequence really is. Be virtuous or youll be turned into a literal donkey, was quite the threat for an America only recently freed from the grip of Prohibition. Its a weird and wonderful entry from Disneys early years.
26/30 5. The Little Mermaid (1989)
Were free to question Ariels decision to trade her voice so she can chase after a cute guy she met only once, but she will always remain the most loveable dinglehopper-collecting weirdo around. Ariels unquenchable curiosity is what makes this aquatic tale so charming, second only to the fact its villain was inspired by the legendary Divine. Plus, Under the Sea is such a party tune.
27/30 4. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Sleeping Beauty is Disneys most beautiful film, thanks to the fact artists John Hench and Eyvind Earle drew heavily from Medieval tapestries, Renaissance art, and even Japanese prints. It gives the feeling of actually flipping through a storybook, as Aurora wanders a forest that looks as if its made entirely of stained glass. And, truly, has there ever been a Disney villain as deviously elegant as Maleficient?
28/30 3. Fantasia (1940)
One of Disneys boldest and most avant garde films, Fantasia is simply masterful in its concept. A musical education for many young viewers, the film pairs classical pieces with short animated stories, each wildly different and inventive in its own right. Although Mickeys appearance in The Sorcerers Apprentice has had a life of its own outside of the original film, anyone who grew up with Fantasia is probably more likely to remember the nightmares Chernabog gave them the Night on Bald Mountain sequence is unlike anything else in the Disney canon.
29/30 2. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
If you need a sign of exactly how impressive a piece of filmmaking Beauty and the Beast is, reflect on the fact that a love story between a woman and a buffalo-bear-man is the first animated film ever to have been nominated for an Academy Award. And this is nearly two decades before The Shape of Water brought interspecies romance to the ceremony. This is truly a tale as old as time, with a lush Alan Menken score (with lyrics by Howard Ashman) and a smart, relatable heroine in Belle.
30/30 1. The Lion King (1994)
Produced at the height of Disneys Renaissance in the 1990s, The Lion King is an epic testament to what animation can achieve as a medium. Can it match the power of its source material, William Shakespeares Hamlet? Well, when Rafiki lifts an infant Simba up to the skies, as an entire kingdom of savannah creatures bows in servitude, all soundtracked to Circle of Life, you cant help but feel momentarily convinced. A film of stunning vistas, heart-wrenching tragedy, and memorable musical moments, theres no doubt that The Lion King deserves its place as one of the greatest animated films of all time.
As could have been guessed from the moment dead dad entered the picture, Onward is another soul-crushing tearjerker in the tradition of 2017s Coco and 2015s Inside Out. Its like the Pixar team set up a betting pool on who can make audiences choke on their own tears the fastest (the current winner, of course, is 2009s Up and its devilish gut-punch of an opener). Director Dan Scanlon, who co-wrote the script with Jason Headley and Keith Bunin, examines his own experiences here. Ian practises imagined conversations with an old cassette of his fathers voice one of the few relics of his fathers existence. It was an audio clip of his own dad that inspired Scanlon to make the film. The Pixar team know that personal investment is the best way to poke at raw nerves, as Onward delves deep into the idea of how our identities are formed through the people we love and have lost. Ian, at one point, meets one of his dads old college friends, who reminisces about the gregarious man he once knew with a penchant for ugly purple socks. Ian, whos still deep in his shell, locks on to that piece of information. Maybe theres hope for him yet.
Its impressive that a world as self-consciously silly as the one in Onward, with its rows of mushroom houses plagued by trash-scavenging unicorns, can still support meaningful, often painful conversations about loss. But the film hits all the right emotional notes, without cutting back on the goofy physical comedy or clever fantasy references the notorious Dungeons & Dragons monster the Gelatinous Cube even gets a shout-out here. Everyone knew thered be high expectations when it came to Onward. But its comforting just to see Pixar do what Pixar does best.