Disney Pixar’s Onward at the El Capitan Theater

by Kai Charles

Living in Southern California has a lot of advantages for a Disney fan. One of those is attending films at the world famous El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. Disney bought and refurbished the theater in the late 80’s and fans have been flocking to it for screenings for many years now. Part of the draw is the live organist playing a spectrum of Disney favorites while you wait for your chosen film to begin. Depending on the film, the theater puts on special themed character appearances, photo ops or 10-minute pre-shows featuring lasers and lights. 

On February 29th El Capitan Theater hosted a special advance screening of Onward featuring a special “VIP Experience” price that included popcorn, soda and fun swag. Now that Onward is officially screening at El Capitan – the movie experience features special photo ops with the characters of Ian and Barley.

But that’s not all – fancy a treat after the film? The Ghirardelli shop next to the theater provides the perfect after-movie experience, and it’s stocked with tons of Onward merchandise. All of these little touches add to the fun atmosphere of the film.

Thoughts on Onward

The marketing of Onward lays out the story: Two brothers get an opportunity to spend a day with their deceased dad due to a special spell. When the spell goes wrong the brothers go on an epic quest to complete the spell and talk to their father one more time.

The animation style of this film is very subtle. Mostly because the Onward is mostly set at night but also because the main focus of the film is the brothers and they really stand out in every frame. It was really nice to see two male protagonists with completely different personalities on a journey together.

This film works because of Tom Holland (voice of Barley) and Chris Pratt (voice of Ian). Ian and Barley have many of the same attributes of the actors physically. The editing of their onscreen dialogue is also so perfect I wonder if they filmed their scenes together. They bring so much humor and emotional connection to the story that draws the viewer in,  I also enjoyed that the boy’s mother Laurel Lightfoot (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) goes on her own journey during the film trying to find her sons. 

Onward has a sweet message about family and pulls at your heart in all the ways we have come to expect from Pixar films.I really hope this film does well, in these days when so much emphasis is paid on box office it can be hard for a fun solid film with totally new IP to meet expectations. If possible, see Oward at the El Capitan for a meet & greet with Ian and Barley!

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