Pixar’s latest film titled Onward is their first try in the Coming of Age genre.
Taking a setting in which the fantasy world has been assimilated into the modern world, Onward tells about the adventures of two monster monsters, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt), to be able to meet their father again. Their own adventure story begins when Ian gets a birthday gift in the form of a magic wand and a magic stone named Phoenix Stone. It is said that, if the Phoenix Stone is used properly, then the dead can come back to life.
Growing up without his father, Ian and Barley’s dream was to be able to see their father again. Therefore, once they get the Phoenix Stone prize, the first thing they do is try to revive the father.
Apparently, using Phoenix Stone is not an easy matter. Their first magic attempt was (somewhat) a total failure. Instead of reviving their father as a whole, Ian and Barley only managed to revive half of their father’s body. Leg to waist, without body, hands and head. Laughable.
The problem does not stop there. The Phoenix Stone they have is also completely destroyed. Not wanting their father to come back alive without a body, the two ventured to find a new Phoenix Stone. Their capital: instructions from the board game card. What happened next was predictable, chaos after chaos.
Behind the Games Online dan Offline chaos, Onward’s focus is actually on Ian’s character. Growing up without his father making him a shy, awkward, and clumsy figure. On his 17th birthday, Ian didn’t dare to invite his friends to party. When being bullied, instead of defending himself, Ian surrendered with resignation. In short, he was pathetic.
The good, Ian wants to change. He does not want to continue to be a loser. Reviving his father is the way out. He wants to learn directly from him how to be a tough guy. That’s why when Barley said there was one more Phoenix Stone, Ian immediately decided to go on an adventure with him.
Onward premise is actually quite obsolete. The story of Coming of Age in which the main character becomes an adult by leaving the comfort zone is too often used. However, director Dan Scanlon (Monster University) has a unique way of conveying this generic story. He takes the approach of Role Playing Game (RPG).
Yes, Onward is very thick with references to western RPG a la Dungeon and Dragons (D&D). Grinding, leveling, puzzles, magic, monsters, all on Onward. In fact, Ian and Barley’s adventures were designed to resemble quests in RPG games.
As an illustration, for Ian and Barley to get the location of the Phoenix Stone, they have to venture from location to location. At each location, they had to ask local residents for instructions. Sometimes, they have to deal directly with the witty, witty creatures of the Manticore (Octavia Spencer), a lion with bat wings, scorpion tails and curly hair.
Throughout the adventure, Ian also practiced his magic abilities, just like the leveling process in RPG games. Ian wasn’t good at it right from the start. And, like in the game, if he doesn’t practice his abilities, then he won’t be able to overcome the obstacles that stand in his way.
The concept of western RPG is not used at all by Dan Scanlon. Using all his experiences from Monster University, he combines the fantasy world of western RPG with the contemporary world. The result is a unique blend. The police are not played by humans, but are centaurs. Stray dogs were replaced by unicorns and street thugs were replaced by fierce, half-dead fairies. While the bar, which has always been a center for information exchange in the RPG, was replaced by fast food outlets. All that makes Ian and Barley’s journey to maturity become more fun even with the outdated premise.
Acting from Tom Holland and Chris Pratt helped liven up the characters of Ian and Barley perfectly during their adventure. Tom is perfect for being a clumsy and awkward Ian, while Pratt deserves to be a sloppy, sloppy Barley, but unfortunately half to death with his brother.
From the comedy side, Onward also appeared humorous. There are many funny moments that are ready to cause laughter. The comedy that often steals the attention comes from the father Ian and Barley. Present without body, head, and hands, he made many strange movements that would remind the audience with a physical comedian pattern.
Despite all the advantages mentioned above, Onward has one very obvious shortcoming: he is too light. Onward does not have the same weight as the previous Pixar films. The audience was not challenged to rethink the messages that were presented so that what happened was that Onward ended up being just entertainment. Very different when compared to Inside Out where the audience is challenged to think about the impact of emotions, motivation, and pressure or like Wall-E where the audience is asked to rethink modernization and its impact on the environment.