Long ago, the world was full of magic, wonder, enchantments and spells. Over time, with the use of modern technology, the magic has faded away until it’s now nothing more than a legend believed by very few.
Ian and his brother Barley are elves. On Ian’s (Tom Holland) 16th birthday, he and Barley (Chris Pratt), who lives for the legends of magic, receive an unexpected gift. It’s a magical staff and a spell to bring back their long-dead father for a day. Ian has never known their dad, but when he takes a turn with the spell, something goes wrong and only half of their father materialises.
In a desperate bid to complete the spell, the brothers embark on a quest to find another magic stone before sunset the next day. Ian is desperate for a chance to know his dad and have some time together before his father is gone again. He’s prepared to do anything and everything to bring him back.
Meanwhile their mother, Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), sets out to find them and soon learns, with the help of a manticore (Octavia Spencer), that only one thing can save them. As the brothers’ quest to find the stone drags on and they’re faced with one challenge after another, Ian realises that he’s more like his dad than he ever imagined and that he has had a father figure in his life all along.
Separation from a parent; loss; magic; challenging relationships; sacrifice
Onward has some violence. For example:
- Barley strangles Ian in jest and then tackles his mother, who flips him over onto the floor.
- A manticore becomes enraged and destroys a restaurant.
- Angry pixies attack Ian and Barley.
- The manticore stabs someone in the neck with her scorpion tail.
- After a police chase, Barley’s van is blasted into the side of a cliff. This triggers a landslide and crushes the car.
- The brothers find themselves in a booby-trapped cave where they must dodge arrows, huge cubes of acid and pits filling with water.
- A flying pixie crashes into a car, and the car crashes into a cliff.
- When Barley takes a magic stone from an ancient fountain, it triggers a curse. A terrible dragon sets out to destroy them all. To save themselves Ian must plunge a sword into the dragon’s heart.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Onward shows some use of substances, including when the manticore becomes jittery after consuming several energy drinks.
Nudity and sexual activity
Onward has some nudity and sexual activity in this movie. For example, Laurel, the boys’ mother, kisses her centaur boyfriend.
No product placement is noted in Onward, but merchandise related to this movie is available to purchase.
Onward has some occasional, mild coarse language, including ‘Dang it!’, ‘Dang!’ and ‘What the …?’
There’s also some name-calling, including ‘screw-up’, ‘lazy’, ‘bonkers’, ‘weirdo’ and ‘loser’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Onward is an animated fantasy adventure with an original storyline and excellent graphics. The characters are diverse, the plot is fast paced, and there are lots of positive messages about believing in yourself, overcoming obstacles and navigating tumultuous relationships in a positive way.
This an ideal movie for families with children aged eight years and over. We recommend parental guidance for children aged 5-8 years because of the movie’s themes, violence and suspenseful scenes of peril.
These are the main messages from this movie:
- Love is a journey, not a destination.
- Although you might sometimes be unsure of who you are, you’re still loved.
- Everyone has magic inside themselves.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include loyalty, selflessness, compassion, persistence, love and trust.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the importance of:
- preserving historical places
- openly communicating with each other
- recognising the needs of others
- trusting and believing in the people we love.