Disney released Onward to buy and put it on Disney+ to help us all cope with this crazy quarantine lifestyle, and I am so grateful.
I had the opportunity to see Onward at an advanced screening before Covid-19 started running our lives (you can read my full review here). I loved it and had planned on taking my four and six year old to see it over their spring break. Little did I know we would only be leaving the house weekly for a grocery pickup by spring break.
I loved getting to show it to them at home. They also loved it, and I’m glad- because it’s full of great sibling messaging that, quite frankly, they both needed to see. Social distancing together has its own emotional toll, and it has been hitting them hard. A good positive movie about siblings and their struggle to get along was just what the doctor ordered.
While I try my best to avoid spoilers here, there are some plot allusions in this post. So if you haven’t seen it yet, you may want to wait until you’ve watched it to read this!
Life Lessons from Pixar’s Onward
Not everything is fixable in one day. Take small steps towards change.
Our family will embarrass us. That’s okay.
Boys can show they care about things (like how Barley peacefully protested tearing down a historic fountain).
Widow/widower parents may move on to other relationships. That will be hard. It’s okay that it’s hard.
Sometimes we need the one we thought was holding us back to help push us forward.
We aren’t always going to agree with our sibling on everything. But we can find a way to respectfully disagree, we can’t let negative feelings build up, and we have to find a way to laugh together after a fight.
Smaller does not mean weaker. Younger does not mean less smart. Older doesn’t mean all knowing.
Trust requires faith in someone to do the right thing.
Believing in someone can give them the strength to believe in themselves.
Sacrifice is the greatest gift we can give.
Sometimes, the person you most need to forgive is yourself. This is shown beautifully when Barley admits his fourth memory. Although their world is fantastical, their story is very human. Many people will benefit from hearing Barley’s story and learning that it’s okay to be afraid, and that everyone has regrets.
Alright, now there are MAJOR SPOILERS ahead. Turn back now if you haven’t seen it!
One of the many things I loved about this movie was how the two brothers had to work together. Barley has the knowledge, while Ian has the power. It is only through teamwork that they can succeed.
Another favorite for me is how the brotherly bond is represented. I love how they don’t get along perfectly, but they find ways to connect. They find ways to work together. They may fight, but they can also talk openly about their feelings. When I asked my kids what their favorite parts were, my four year old answered, “When the younger brother defeated the dragon.” How often do we get to see a smaller, younger protagonist defeat the villain? How often do we see the younger brother as a protagonist at all? I loved seeing a real relationship on the screen. I’m so glad my boys have a brother movie that isn’t all about toilet humor and wrestling. I’m grateful they have Ian and Barley to show them what brotherhood means: love, communication, learning more about what the other one is interested in, and sacrifice.