Film and Plot Synopsis
Set in a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, go on a journey to discover if there is still a little magic left out there in order to spend one last day with their father, who died when they were too young to remember him. Along the way, they encounter a manticore, wild sprites, and adventures beyond their imaginations. Ultimately, they will learn that there are some things in the world that are more powerful than magic.
‘Onward’ Movie Summary
Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) is a high school elf who severely lacks self-confidence. He lives with his older brother Barley (Chris Pratt), a history and role-playing game fanatic, and his mother Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Ian’s father, Wilden (Kyle Bornheimer), died before Ian was born from an illness. One of Ian’s biggest wishes is to know things about his father and be confident like him. The Lightfoot family lives in the city of New Mushroomton. Laurel has moved on since her husband’s death and now dates police centaur officer Colt Bronco (Mel Rodriguez) much to the boys’ chagrin.
On Ian’s sixteenth birthday, Laurel gives the boys a gift from their father that she promised not to give them until they were both at least sixteen. The gift is a magical staff, a rare gem, and a letter with a visitation spell that can resurrect their father for a single day. Barley attempts to cast the spell several times, but fails. Ian accidentally casts the spell, but only the lower half of their father’s body is reformed before the gem disintegrates. Barley formulates a plan to acquire another Phoenix gem to complete the spell before the 24 hours is up. The two jump into Barley’s van Guinevere and head out on their adventure.
Ian and Barley travel to Manticore’s Tavern, a former bar for those seeking adventure and now a children’s play place. Barley tells Ian that they will find a map to a gem at the Tavern. The proprietor of the tavern is Corey the Manticore (Octavia Spencer), who realizes how boring her life has become after arguing with Ian over the map. Corey drives all the customers away in a fit of rage and sets the restaurant and the map on fire. The only remaining clue is a children’s menu that suggests Raven’s Point, a nearby mountain, as the location of the gem. Barley convinces Ian that is where they need to go, so they head out for the mountain.
Meanwhile, Laurel finds that the boys have left and heads out to find them. After the restaurant catches on fire, Colt directs Laurel to the scene. Laurel encounters Corey, who tells her that her sons were there and agrees to help her find them. Corey also warns Laurel that the boys’ journey may awaken a curse which can only be defeated by her special sword that Corey once possessed but pawned. Laurel and Corey go to the pawn shop and steal the sword back.
On the way to the mountains, Ian and Barley encounter and narrowly escape the police and a vicious motorcycle gang of sprites.
Along the way, Barley continues to teach Ian additional magic spells that prove useful to their quest. After they arrive at a drawbridge to Raven’s Point, they discover a serious of raven statutes that seem to point the way to the stone. Once again, Barley convinces Ian that they should follow the statutes and not head to the mountain. Ian reluctantly agrees and they proceed. The trail leads them into a cave and an underground river. At the end of the river, they find themselves back in front of Ian’s school in Mushroomton. Ian is frustrated that they are back where they started and yells at Barley before walking off with the lower half of their father.
Once alone, Ian begins to reread the list of things he wanted to do with his father in their one day together. He starts to cross the items off that he feels that he will not have time to accomplish, but then realizes that he has done everything on the list with his brother, who has become his surrogate father in his life. At the same time, Barley discovers the gem inside a historic fountain and retrieves it, unwittingly triggering the curse. A red mist seeps from the fountain and begins to tear pieces of the school building off to form the body of a dragon.
The dragon pursues Barley who has the gem. Corey arrives with Laurel and begins to fight the dragon. Ian uses the gem to complete the spell to resurrect the rest of their father for a few short minutes. Once the spell is cast, Ian turns to fight the dragon with his magic, allowing his brother to say goodbye to their father. Ian is able to cast a spell that exposes the dragon’s heart, and Laurel is able to kill the dragon with Corey’s sword. Ian is able to turn and watch as Barley hugs their father right before Wilden disappears again forever.
In the aftermath, Ian’s skill as a magician improves greatly. Barley gets a new van from Ian, named Guinevere 2. Corey reopens her tavern as a place where customers can hear tales of past adventures. Ian and Barley continue on their adventures…together.