Onward: Resurrecting Lost Dreams, Having Courage, and Treasuring What You’ve Already Got

For Ian, his older brother is uncool, his mother’s boyfriend is even less cool, and he himself is the least cool of all. Ian wants to be like his father, who was brave, funny, and courageous. So he is determined to cross off his list of dreams: to talk more, to learn how to drive, to invite his friends to his birthday party, and to be more like his dad. Unfortunately, his plan fell through. He came home from school feeling dejected, until his mother showed him and his brother a present from their late father: a magic wand.

Apparently, Ian’s father had been a magician and he left his children a last gift: a spell that could summon him back from dead just for one day. Now Ian and his brother, Barley, decides to embark on a journey to search for the final touch to complete the spell, a magic stone guarded by a magical dragon.

Onward was one of the first movies I watched on Disney+ Hotstar after the release of the app in my country. In the beginning of the story, I wasn’t so hooked on it. While Ian’s character has a lot of similarity with me—he is quite shy, has a lot of fears, and wishes for a cooler and more magnificent life—I think he is being too harsh on himself. But I guess since he is young (he is 15 or 16 in the movie, if I’m not mistaken), he still has a lot to learn. And thankfully enough, he does learn a lot during his journey with his brother to complete the spell.

For me personally, this movie tells the importance of gratitude. Ian is so fixated with having his father back and getting to do all the fun things with him, until he (spoiler alert) realizes that a lot of things he wants to achieve can actually be fulfilled with his brother. He is so fixated on having a cool father figure even though his brother will do anything for him—be it teaching him how to drive, go on a trip with him, or just simply having fun with him doing literally anything.

That’s why this movie has left such a memorable impression to me. It teaches me how to have courage in order to resurrect your past dreams, just like what Ian and Barley do through their journey to complete the spell (another spoiler alert: yeah, the seemingly silly and fearless Barley does have his own moment of weakness too). It teaches me that while we may not have all the things we want in the world, we do have something, and it is way more important to recognize that in order to be happy.

All in all, Onward has been a very enjoyable movie, filled with a lot of precious messages, and a solid set of characters (P.S. I wouldn’t mind having a Barley-centered movie next. Or his mother, who is probably the coolest character in the this movie.)

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