Pixar’s Onward is a story of two brothers and their far-off-yet-endearing wish to see their father one last time. Perhaps this wish is heightened for Ian Lightfoot (voiced by Tom Holland), who has the unfortunate luck of losing his father very soon in his life.
Upon his sixteenth birthday, Ian and his brother Barley Lightfoot (voiced by Chris Pratt) are given a gift by their mother, Laurel Lightfoot (voiced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and soon begin a magical opportunity that once existed in their world. Together, they venture onward to a fantasy quest very similar to roleplaying games (RPGs), a world well-known to Barley.
At first glance, this becomes the premise of Onward; however, Pixar has accomplished, once again, an accurate depiction of an intimate familial experience. Ian and Barley encounter the best elements of a roleplaying campaign and learn to rely on one another. This clever inclusion of medieval and modern rituals keeps a faithful delivery of creating a world for any age and identity.
The brothers unknowingly receive a watchful eye by their stepfather, a police officer named Colt Bronco (voiced by Mel Rodriguez). As he learns about their journey, Colt reports back to Ian and Barley’s mom, Laurel Lightfoot. who provides the initial inspiration to make their wishes come true. Together, they all share a common goal in keeping their family safe from harm and understanding the need for one last moment with their father.
Colt’s connection to the law introduces the very first out LGBTQ character in the Pixar universe, Officer Spector, (voiced by iconic, LGBTQ role model Lena Waithe). Officer Spector has a rather humorous and revealing encounter as she, too, expresses concern for her family.
The scene doesn’t alter the story significantly, but for many, it comes as an extremely proud moment for those who have always imagined a part of their identity reflected in the engrossing and entertaining stories of Pixar. Of the many messages inferred from viewing and enjoying Onward, the most celebratory message of all is the endearing response to LGBTQ representation carefully selected for such a quest.
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