Onward (2020)

Onward poster

SHORT VERSION

On his 16th birthday, an elf named Ian Lightfoot and his older brother Barley receive a wizard staff as a gift from their late father Wilden. He left them an incantation and gem for a spell that would allow the boys to see their father for one full day. Ian turns out to possess his father’s gift for magic, but when trying out the spell, he only manages to bring back Wilden’s legs. Barley takes him on a quest to find another gem before the sun sets the next day and they can never perform the spell again.

The boys come across many characters on their journey, including the legendary Manticore, Corey, who joins their mother Laurel in finding them. They also spend whatever time they can with their dad, even if he’s not fully there to enjoy it. Barley also teaches Ian a few spells he knows so that he can get a hang of the staff.

After ending up back in their town, Ian blames Barley for leading them down the wrong path and ruining his chance to meet Wilden. However, it turns out Barley was right and they do find the gem from where they were lead, but it awakens a beast that protects the gem. Ian uses his spells to fight back while Laurel and Corey use Corey’s powerful sword. Ian sacrifices his chance to meet his father by letting Barley have the moment since he never got to say goodbye to Wilden, and Ian had realized that Barley was there for all the things he wanted to do with his father. Ian finishes the spell for Barley and defeats the beast. He only watches Wilden from afar as Barley spends a few minutes with him, but Barley assures Ian that Wilden is proud of who they became.

Ian becomes a more confident person and wizard, and his relationship with Barley has grown stronger from their journey.

MEDIUM VERSION

In a world inhabited by mythical creatures, magic was commonplace several millennia ago, though difficult to master. After technological advances over the centuries, magic became obsolete and was largely discarded.

In the modern day, two elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot (Ian is a high-schooler lacking self-confidence, and Barley is an enthusiastic history and RPG fanatic who tends to be very impulsive), live in the city of New Mushroomton. Their father Wilden died of a severe illness shortly before Ian was born, and their mother Laurel has a new boyfriend, centaur police officer Colt Bronco, whom Ian and Barley dislike.

On Ian’s sixteenth birthday, Laurel gives the brothers a gift from Wilden: a magical staff, a rare Phoenix Gem, and a letter describing a “visitation spell” that can resurrect their father for a single day. Ian accidentally succeeds in casting the spell, but only the lower half of Wilden’s body is reformed before the gem disintegrates. The brothers embark on a quest to acquire another Phoenix Gem and complete the spell, taking Barley’s beloved van “Guinevere”. Finding the boys gone, Laurel leaves to find them.

Ian and Barley visit the Manticore’s Tavern, named for a monster possessing a map to the gem. The tavern has become a family restaurant managed by the Manticore, legally named The Manticore, also known as “Corey”. Arguing with Ian over the map, The Manticore realizes how boring her life has become and drives the customers away in a fit of rage, accidentally setting fire to the restaurant and the map. The brothers’ only clue to the gem is a children’s menu suggesting “Raven’s Point”, a nearby mountain. Laurel later arrives at the scene and befriends The Manticore, who agrees to help her. The Manticore warns that the brothers’ journey may awaken a curse that can only be defeated by her special sword, which she and Laurel steal from a pawn shop.

Traveling to the mountains, Ian and Barley narrowly escape the police and a motorcycle gang of pixies,[7] relying on Ian’s newly awakened spell-casting abilities and Barley’s role-playing game instincts. “Raven’s Point” leads them on a trail indicated by a series of raven statues, but Colt follows them, calling in reinforcements. Barley sacrifices Guinevere to cause a landslide, blocking their pursuers. Following the statues, the brothers descend through a cave and avoid a series of traps and deadly creatures, during which Barley reveals to Ian that he was unable to emotionally bring himself to say goodbye to Wilden when he was dying in the hospital. They then run into one final obstacle, and surface to find themselves in front of Ian’s high school. Ian, fed up with Barley’s recklessness, lashes out at him for leading them on a wild goose chase and walks away with Wilden.

Rereading his list of things he always wished to do with his father, Ian realizes that Barley has been a father figure throughout his entire life, and returns to make amends. Barley discovers the Phoenix Gem inside a historic fountain and retrieves it, unwittingly triggering the curse The Manticore spoke of, which creates an artificial golem-dragon out of pieces of the school and other nearby objects, bent on claiming the gem. Ian faces the artificial dragon, but his staff is knocked into the ocean; he reforms it from a splinter and continues the fight. The Manticore flies in carrying Laurel, who plunges the magic sword into the artificial dragon’s heart, buying Ian time to cast the visitation spell and fully reform Wilden’s body. Ian sends Barley ahead to finally give his proper goodbye to Wilden, and holds off the artificial dragon long enough for Laurel to destroy it. After Wilden dissipates, Barley tells Ian that their father is proud of him, and the brothers share a hug.

Sometime later, Ian’s confidence and spell-casting have improved and he surprises Barley by painting his new van, the “Guinevere 2” or the Yellow Guinevere. The Manticore reopens her tavern in its original spirit, drawing in customers with tales of past adventures, Ian and Barley have a better relationship with Colt, and the brothers continue questing.

LONG VERSION

The film is preceded by a Simpsons short.

PLAYDATE WITH DESTINY

Marge brings Maggie to the park, where she develops a mutual crush on a boy named Hudson. They spend the afternoon together until Hudson is taken home. The next day, Maggie is eager to return to the park, but Homer takes Maggie this time to a park for older kids, since there’s a taco truck there that Homer wants to go to. Maggie tries looking for Hudson again and sees him across the other park, but Homer takes Maggie home, and she responds by slamming his burrito in his face. The day after, Homer takes Maggie again and almost goes to the other park, but Maggie grabs the wheel and makes Homer turn around to go to the first park. There, Maggie finds Hudson on a train and tries to catch it, but it rides away from her sight. She sits in disappointment until she realizes the train goes in a circle, and Hudson pulls her onboard when he returns.

ONWARD

Long ago, the world was full of magic. Creatures like unicorns, mermaids, and dragons lived freely, and those who possessed the skills to use magic were greatly revered. However, magic was not easy to master, and as such, innovations in technology took over, making life easier for others but also diminishing the need for magic.

In the modern city of New Mushroomton, an elf named Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) wakes up on his 16th birthday. He lives with his older fantasy obsessed brother Barley (Chris Pratt) and their mother Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), as well as their pet dragon Blazey. The family is visited by Laurel’s centaur boyfriend, Officer Colt Bronco (Mel Rodriguez). He comes by to reprimand Barley for an incident in which he chained himself to a fountain downtown because he claims it is preserving a piece of the town’s history. The boys are uncomfortable with Colt dating their mom and aren’t ready to accept him as a father figure.

Before going to school, Ian stops to get breakfast and meets another elf named Gaxton (Wilmer Valderrama) introduced himself to Ian, as he notices the sweater he is wearing belonged to his father, Wilden (Kyle Bornheimer), whom Ian never got to meet. They went to college together and were good friends, an Gaxton was sad to hear about Wilden’s passing. Ian then goes to school hoping to fit in and invite some friends to his birthday party, but he has trouble getting out of his shell. He gets embarrassed when Barley shows up in his rusty old van that he named Guinevere.

At home, Laurel decides it is time for the boys to receive a gift that Wilden had wanted to save until they were both over 16. It’s a wizard staff that belonged to Wilden, but not even Laurel knew that he was a wizard or knew how to perform magic. Along with the staff is a note from Wilden addressed to his boys, hoping that, while magic has faded from their world, that there may be a little magic in them. He has also left them with a Visitation Spell, which would bring Wilden back to life for one full day. He also left them with a Phoenix Gem, which is what can be used for the spell to work. Barley recites the incantation repeatedly but never gets the staff to work, leaving everyone disappointed.

Later, Ian quietly reads the incantation to himself, unknowingly activating the staff. With the gem, Ian completes the incantation and appears to start bringing Wilden back. Barley comes in and is amazed, but Ian can’t control the staff, and the gem is destroyed before the spell is complete. As a result, only Wilden’s legs have formed. However, Barley lets him know where he is by tapping on his foot like drums, which is what he did as a child. Wilden is then able to sense both his sons in the room, and they are at least happy for this. Barley notes that they only have until the next day’s sunset to bring Wilden back or their opportunity is gone forever. Using his knowledge of mythology, he deduces that they must find the legendary Manticore in order to find another Phoenix Gem to complete the spell. Without telling Laurel to not freak her out, the boys ride Guinevere and head off on their quest, bringing Wilden along by putting a jacket and hat over his lower half to not freak people out.

The brothers drive into town where they come across the Manticore’s Tavern. Once a place for fearless warriors to gather, it has now become a family restaurant, with the Manticore herself, Corey (Octavia Spencer), being reduced to the put-upon manager. The boys ask her for help in finding the gem, but she has put her life of adventure behind her. She does point out the map that would find the gem, but refuses to give it to the boys. Ian steps up and convinces Corey to remember her life as a warrior so she can help them. It works too well, as Corey loses it and starts to set the place on fire, destroying the map in the process. The boys get out before anything else happens, but Barley takes a kids menu which does reveal that the Phoenix Gem can be found in a location called Raven’s Point.

Laurel finds that the boys are gone, and she drives by the tavern after seeing first responders there. She overheard Corey mentioning two teenaged elves, knowing she means her sons. Laurel sneaks Corey out of there so she can help find them, as Corey had failed to mention to the boys of a curse that will happen if they try to remove the gem from its resting place. Corey mentions that they need to find her old sword, Cursecrusher, in order to defeat the beast that will awaken to protect the gem.

The boys run low on gas and must stop. Barley sees it as an opportunity for Ian to try out his magic by using the staff to grow the gas canister, and the gas inside by extension. Ian tries it but accidentally shrinks Barley. They walk into town to find a gas station, arriving at the same time as a group of aggressive biker sprites. After getting gas, Ian finds Barley trying to talk to the sprites’ leader, Dewdrop (Grey Griffin), only to anger her and the others when bringing up how sprites used to fly. It gets worse when Wilden accidentally knocks over their bikes. The boys must flee, with Ian being forced to drive the van despite not knowing how to drive. The sprites chase after them on the parkway with their bikes, even making their way into the van to attack, but the boys manage to shake them off and get away from them as they head back onto the road for their quest.

After Barley grows back to a normal size, the boys have a moment where they dance with their father’s legs, genuinely enjoying themselves. Later on, they are pulled over by Officers Specter (Lena Waithe) and Gore (Ali Wong). In order to fool them, the boys conjure a spell to disguise them as Colt, but it only works as long as they are telling the truth. Ian acts as the front while Barley is the legs. Ian manages to fool Specter, despite almost revealing himself, but before he leaves, Gore asks “Colt” about how much of a handful it must be to be a stepfather toward the Lightfoots, but mostly in regards to Barley, whom Gore refers to as a screwup. When Ian tries to deny feeling the same, one of his disguised limbs is revealed, letting Barley know that Ian does think of him as a screwup. They flee before the disguise wears off completely, but the officers contact the real Colt to find out what’s going on.

Laurel and Corey come across a pawn shop where Corey left her sword. The owner, Grecklin (Tracy Ullman), almost sells the sword back for a decent price until Corey accidentally lets it slip how valuable it really is. When Grecklin raises the price, Corey uses her scorpion tail to incapacitate Grecklin and get the sword.

Continuing on their trip, Barley is annoyed with Ian over thinking he’s a screwup, despite Ian trying to convince him that’s not the case. As they get closer to their destination, Ian opts to follow the main road, but Barley is convinced that on a quest like this, the right path to what they seek is not always clearly spelled out, so he opts to take the “Path of Peril” to get to Raven’s Point fasted. Meanwhile, Colt follows their trail after the van’s bumper and license plate falls off.

The boys reach Raven’s Point and believe the gem lies within the mountains up ahead. First they have to cross a canyon to lower a bridge for them to get across. Barley tells Ian of a spell that will create an invisible bridge for him to get across, but Ian is scared and asks for a rope to hold him in case he falls. Ian makes it halfway across the invisible bridge before the rope slips off him. Barley lets him keep thinking that he has the rope until he reaches the other side and nearly falls. Ian panics until Barley assures him that he didn’t need the rope.

After crossing the bridge, Barley figures that “Raven’s Point” is meant literally and that the gem lies wherever the raven statue is pointing. Before they can proceed, Colt shows up to try and escort the brothers back home. However, Ian speeds off with the van to evade Colt. His backup arrives and chases after them. The boys reach a block in the path, and Ian tries to use a spell to block the cops from showing up, but it’s not strong enough. Barley decides to sacrifice Guinevere by having the van fly into the rock formation and cause it to collapse so the cops are blocked off. The brothers and Wilden proceed to head underground.

The three come across a waterfall and a small stone that seems to indicate that the gem lies in the water. On their path, Ian grows a cheese doodle to use as a boat. As they sail down the river, Barley tells Ian that he never got to say goodbye to Wilden because he was too afraid to see him as sick as he was. They come across a number of booby traps but ultimately make it back to the surface…only to discover they have come back to New Mushroomton. Ian is upset at Barley for supposedly taking them down the wrong path, saying he is a screwup and that he ruined his chance to meet their dad. Ian walks off and leaves Barley alone.

Ian sits by himself and looks at a list of things he wanted to do when he met his father, and with the sun setting soon, he feels his chances are now gone. However, Ian realizes that everything he wanted to do with his father is stuff he has done with Barley. While he never had his father, he always had his big brother to look out for him and teach him what he needs to know. Meanwhile, Barley sees the fountain he was trying to protect and sees a spot to fit the stone they previously found, meaning the Phoenix Gem was hidden in the fountain the whole time. Barley places the stone inside and finds the gem, but he ends up awakening the cursed beast, who takes form by coming apart from the school’s foundation and assuming the form of a dragon. Ian runs toward them with the staff while Laurel and Corey arrive in time to wield the sword. Ian utilizes his newly learned spells to fight the dragon while Laurel tries to buy them time to finish the spell. Using the gem and staff, they try to finish bringing Wilden back, but the dragon gets up and starts advancing. Ian decides that Barley should be there to see Wilden so that he can properly say goodbye, even if it means missing his chance to meet his father. Ian uses a lightning spell to blast a hole at the dragon to expose its core, and Laurel throws him the sword so he can use a levitation spell and hurl it toward the core, defeating the beast. From afar, Ian watches Barely sharing what little time he has with Wilden before the sun sets. Barley hugs his father, and he is gone once more. Barley goes to Ian, who says that Wilden told him two things: he always thought his wizard name would be “Wilden The Whimsical” (which they both agree is lame), and that he is proud of who Ian grew up to be, noting that it wouldn’t have been without Barley’s help. Finally, Barley gives Ian a hug from Wilden.

Sometime later, Ian has grown more confident and has made friends. Corey reopens her tavern, which still welcomes families but is more based around an adventurous setting, and also employs the sprites as staff now that they fly again. The boys accept Colt as a new father figure. Barley gets a new van, which he dubs Guinevere 2. Ian joins him, and with a levitation spell, they ride off on another quest.

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