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Teenage elf brothers Ian and Barley embark on a magical quest to spend one more day with their late father. Like any good adventure, their journey is filled with cryptic maps, impossible obstacles and unimaginable discoveries. But when dear Mom finds out her sons are missing, she teams up with the legendary manticore to bring her beloved boys back home.
Onward is a 2020 American computer-animated urban fantasy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney Pictures. The film is directed by Dan Scanlon, produced by Kori Rae from a screenplay written by Scanlon, Jason Headley, and Keith Bunin, and stars the voices of Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Octavia Spencer. Set in a suburban fantasy world, the film follows two elf brothers who set out on a quest to find an artifact that will bring back their deceased father.
The film premiered at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival on February 21, 2020 and was released in the United States on March 6. It received generally positive reviews from critics and has grossed $104 million worldwide. The film's financial shortcomings when compared to other Pixar films were attributed to the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in theaters around the globe being closed. Like several other films released in March, it was made available digitally two weeks after its theatrical release.
In a world inhabited by mythical creatures, magic was once commonplace, though difficult to master. After technological advances over the years, magic became obsolete and was largely discarded.
In a time equivalent to the modern day, Ian Lightfoot, an elf high-schooler lacking self-confidence, and his older brother Barley, a history and role-playing game fanatic, live in the city of New Mushroomton. Their father Wilden died shortly before Ian was born, and their mother Laurel has a new boyfriend, centaur police officer Colt Bronco.
On Ian's sixteenth birthday, Laurel gives the brothers a gift from Wilden: a magical staff, a rare 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 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, Corey. Arguing with Ian over the map, Corey 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 Corey, who agrees to help her. Corey warns that the brothers' journey may awaken a curse which 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, 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, surfacing to find themselves in front of Ian's high school. Ian lashes out at Barley 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 gem inside a historic fountain and retrieves it, unwittingly triggering the curse Corey spoke of which turns the high school into an artificial dragon 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. Corey 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 give his 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.
Ian's confidence and spell-casting improve and he surprises Barley by painting his new van, the "Guinevere 2". Corey reopens her tavern in its original spirit, drawing in customers with tales of past adventures, and Ian and Barley continue questing.