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What You Should Know About Pixar's Onward | Parents' Guide

Onward Is an Absolute Family Must-See, but Here’s What Parents Should Know Beforehand

Watch out! This post contains spoilers.

Although it's been available to buy and rent digitally since late March, Pixar's Onward is finally on Disney+! It's the perfect movie for the entire family — parents, kids, and teens alike — as it's full of funny moments, powerful lessons, beautiful animation, and, of course, Disney/Pixar magic. However, the bottom line is that it's a film about a dangerous quest taken on by two teenage boys, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, who are trying to conjure their late dad, Wilden, through magic; so we're here to give you a few heads ups before you click play.

Keep reading for everything you should know before watching Onward during family movie night with younger or especially sensitive kids; but don't be discouraged from watching if you think they can handle it — this movie is totally adorable and about to become a family favorite, for sure!

Things Parents Should Know Before They Watch Onward With Their Kids

  1. There are a few violent moments throughout the film. Aside from Ian sometimes using the magical staff as a weapon and the boys' mom wielding a huge sword at one point (cool-mom points!), there are some other slightly more violent moments. The boys are chased by pixies on motorcycles (also wielding weapons); a gelatinous cube threatens to absorb the boys and Wilden unless they jump over a gap with extremely savage giant spikes at the bottom (right before they nearly drown); Guinevere, Barley's van, crashes (more than once); and a giant red fog turns the boys' high school into an angry and completely destructive stone dragon. However, it's all animated, and these scenes are pretty fleeting!
  2. There are a few scary and tense parts. Like any great action movie, especially one featuring magic, the characters find themselves in peril often. Ian walks over a gap between two cliffs using magic, which is a little nerve-racking — especially when he almost falls! — and scary-looking unicorns pop out of a cave unannounced, to name a couple of tense scenes. Additionally, when Ian first conjures Wilden — erm, half of him, that is — younger kids might be a little freaked out by him only appearing from the waist down, though it quickly becomes silly. Most of the tense scenes are over before they even start, and you can definitely reassure your kids that everything is going to be OK.
  1. The fact that Ian and his family are grieving over Wilden's death is touched upon a lot. The whole crux of the movie is that the boys find out they're able to spend a day with their late father through magic, so his death brings up all kinds of sad feelings throughout the movie. At one point, Barley shares what it was like when Wilden was sick and hooked up to tubes before he passed away, which is super upsetting. In the end, Ian's grief in particular comes to a point where he realizes that it's OK to miss his dad while still celebrating life with his loved ones, so all of this can open up a healthy conversation about loss and grief, even with the youngest kids.
  2. While the film features the joys and exciting parts of having siblings, it also touches on sibling rivalries and what can happen when siblings don't see eye to eye. With likely at minimum 10 recent sibling fights your own kids have had on your mind, maybe you can use Ian and Barley's little bickering episodes — or their big fight toward the end in which Ian calls Barley a "screw-up" (ouch) — as a way to show that disagreeing is a part of life, but you can always apologize and make things right. And, without spoiling too much, the sweet resolution of the film really highlights the special bond siblings share.
  1. There are a lot of opportunities to teach kids about what not to do. Lying to adults, sneaking out of the house, getting into perilous situations — there are plenty of things that the Lightfoots do in this film that you could make an example out of, especially when it comes to Barley. He's completely reckless, has unpaid parking tickets up the wazoo, isn't a very safe driver, and tends to be pretty careless even in the tiniest of moments. Barley and Ian put their mom through a lot when they leave on their quest, and though it's a movie and the plot has to be based on some sort of conflict, this is a great way to open up a conversation about seeking the help of adults you trust when you have a problem or need help.

TL;DR: Onward has its share of scary, thrilling, and emotional moments (I sobbed over the ending, but I'm also a Pisces, so that checks out), but it's a completely feel-good movie and 100-percent worth the watch — your whole family is going to love it!

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Image Source: Pixar
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