Pixar's Onward Gets Mostly Positive Reviews: 'Inventive, Sweet' But Has Some 'Flaws'
Onward, Pixar’s first original animated feature since Coco in 2017, hits theaters March 6
The original animated feature, Disney/Pixar’s first since 2017’s Coco, has been met with mixed reviews from critics, ranging from “inventive” to “one of the less attractive Pixar movies.”
Onward follows two teenage elf brothers who live in a universe where past mythical wonders have been replaced with modern technologies. The boys (voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) go in search of the lost magic in the film, which also features the voices of Julia Louis Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer and Lena Waithe.
In The Atlantic, critic David Sims said Onward is “a warm, gentle film that doesn’t try to merely dazzle the audience with wild fantasy visuals.”
“Onward is the kind of movie the studio should be focusing on: an inventive, sweet, and small-scale story that still shows off the usual Pixar hallmarks,” Sims’ review continued. “There’s some nifty world-building, unabashed sentimentality, and a keen understanding of tone, with an ending alchemically designed to provoke tears from parents and kids alike.”
Many other reviewers cited the tear-jerking ending to Onward, which was written and directed by Dan Scanlon (Monsters University).
“While the film’s sentimental climax will have filmgoers walking into the lobby still dabbing away their tears, it doesn’t entirely expiate Onward of its many flaws,” Alonse Duralde wrote in The Wrap, noting that the movie has “lapses of logic” and “is one of the less attractive Pixar movies.”
“Still, even if the film lags narratively, there’s enough flash and dazzle to keep viewers engaged, with Holland and Pratt providing a genuine balance of sibling love and exasperation for each other,” Duralde said.
Film critic Justin Chang provides a similarly nuanced review in the Los Angeles Times, calling the film “pretty good, and sometimes inspired.”
“Onward is a touching, lovingly crafted oddity — a movie that acknowledges its borrowed elements at the outset and then proceeds to reinvigorate them with tried-and-true Pixar virtues: sly wit, dazzling invention and a delicacy of feeling that approaches the sublime.”
In an interview with PEOPLE in May, Scanlon said Onward will be both funny and sentimental.
“I absolutely hope that people are laughing their heads off and crying their eyes out,” he said. “My hope is some of the questions that I’m asking in the film will be questions other people are asking about their own lives. And I think that’s what a lot of the times gets us to connect to a movie.”
Onward hits theaters March 6.