ONWARD is an exciting adventure filled with magic, sword battles, epic quests, and dragons…but at its heart it’s about family. Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Press Conference for the upcoming Disney/Pixar movie ONWARD. In attendance were the movie’s stars, Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, writer/director Dan Scanlon and Producer Kori Rae.
The movie is about two brothers, Barley (Chris Pratt) and Ian (Tom Holland) who lost their dad at a very young age. On Ian’s 16th birthday their mom gives them a gift that their dad left before he passed; a magic spell that will bring him back for just 24 hours. Ian and Barley cast the spell, but it goes a little haywire, and that starts their epic journey to obtain a stone that will bring back the rest of their father before the time is up.
The movie is touching and sentimental and well, real, which is a funny thing to say about a film that has unicorns eating trash. But the fact is that Dan Scanlon wrote this movie based on his real life. He and his brother lost their dad when they were young and all they have to remember him is silent videos, a quick voice recording and stories from family members. So it’s really personal for him, it comes from an honest place, and you can feel that throughout the entire movie. Scanlon had always wondered who his dad was and how he was like him, and that became the roadmap for this film.
Tom Holland plays Ian, the younger brother, but in real life, he’s the oldest of four and Chris Pratt is the youngest of two. For the film, they switched but were still able to use their experiences with their siblings in their roles. Add to that the fact that they were already very close before this film, and as Tom mentioned “were almost just playing themselves”. One of the biggest examples of this was the fact that Barley never gets jealous of Ian, even though he’s the one who wishes he had the gift of magic. Pratt’s older brother always wanted to be an actor, but he ended up joining the army and Chris became the actor. Just like Pratt’s brother loved him, was proud of him, and was only ever encouraging about his talent, so was Barley towards Ian. You never for a second thought that Barley was anything but proud of his brother.
If this movie does nothing else, it celebrates the love between brothers. Pratt believes that that’s what makes this relationship, this brotherhood, so special. “It’s not something you often see in movies. What you normally see is the older brother who doesn’t let the younger brother hang out with him, who doesn’t take him to school, who calls him a nerd or a twerp…it’s almost a characterization of brothers, because the truth is, brothers, love each other”. And we really get that from the film, that these brothers truly love each other, no matter what.
Scanlon hopes you’ll leave the theater remembering to love the people around you and to “think about the people in your life who go above and beyond and helped you become the person you are today” and really just enjoy the time you have with them. In a world that moves so fast, where we’re all so absorbed in our phones and other people’s lives, it’s important to slow down, focus on your loved ones, and figure out how to make them a part of your journey Onward. ONWARD will be released in theaters on March 6, 2020. For more on the film, check out our review here.