Onward - 2020

Onward - 2020
Movie Info

Rating: PG


Age-appropriateness: Heavy use of magic, quick/subtle reference to a same-sex relationship, some scary scenes, rebellious behavior.


Overview: On a quest to reunite with their father, two brothers need to learn how to believe in something bigger than themselves. They had to rely on the power within them. Their adventure onward required them to focus on what’s most important, while growing in self-confidence.


Themes: magic, sibling rivalry, courage, adolescence, growing up, confidence, father/son, brothers, adventure, perseverance, death, grieving, mentor, faith.

The Quick 3

Ask these quick questions to hit the major themes of the film.

1. Perseverance. How easy would it have been for the brothers to have given up? What would’ve happened if they didn’t press onward and if they refused to keep going?


  • The movie title is Onward because the brothers kept moving forward, no matter what obstacles they faced. They refused to give up. Colossians 1:11 encourages believers to keep “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience”.


2. Courage. What are some new things you can do (things that’s that would take courage)?


  • Ian decided he was going to be bold. He would try new things and be courageous. He wanted to speak up more, learn to drive, invite people to his birthday party, and be more like his dad. Having courage is being brave enough to make good choices, even when you’re afraid. It means doing the right thing or trying something new, even when it’s scary.


3. Family. Who are the people in your world that you get to share your life with? Have you told them lately how grateful you are for that?


  • Ian is disappointed that he didn’t get to have certain experiences with his dad. He then realizes that he got to experience all of those wonderful things by sharing his life with his brother. He’s grateful for the incredible relationship he does get to have, instead of dwelling on the relationship he missed out on.

After The Movie Discussion Guide

Follow this 5-10 minute discussion guide to drive an in-depth conversation.

1. The movie title is Onward because the brothers kept moving forward, no matter what obstacles they faced. They refused to give up. Colossians 1:11 encourages believers to keep “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience”. 


How easy would it have been for the brothers to have given up? What would’ve happened if they didn’t press onward and if they refused to keep going?


2. In the movie, the world used to be full of wonder, curiosity, and fun. But now, everything has become much more simple with inventions that make people’s lives more convenient. Additionally, the world has also lost its magic, which made things exciting and tremendous. Which world would you rather be a part of: one of fun and excitement, or simplicity and convenience? Which one describes your day-to-day life?


3. Ian kept a list of all of the things he wanted to do with his dad. Take some time right now to write down a list of all the things you want to do. Which ones are your favorite items on the list?


4. Ian has to grow in self-confidence throughout the story, learning how to trust and believe in himself. As followers of Jesus, we can be confident in ourselves because of who God says that we are. It’s not dependent on our own abilities, because we are far from perfect. But we can trust that God will equip us for the work He was set out before us. Joshua 1:9 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you whenever you go.” Are you confident in yourself? How can your self-esteem be shaped by who God says that you are?


5. Parent Resource. Ian’s dad passed away and he really missed him. Read this article for tips on How to Talk to Your Kids about Death/Grieving.


6. Parent Resource. There was a ton of magic in this film. It was behind the basic premise of the entire story. Read this article to understand How to Talk to Your Kids About Magic.

Minute By Minute Guide

Use this break down of the entire movie in addition to the “After the Movie” discussion guide. Great for repeat viewings.

:08 Ian decided he was going to be bold. He would try new things and be courageous. He wanted to speak up more, learn to drive, invite people to his birthday party, and be more like his dad. Having courage is being brave enough to make good choices, even when you’re afraid. It means doing the right thing or trying something new, even when it’s scary. What are some new things you can do (things that’s that would take courage)?


:14 Ian listens to old tapes of his dad, asking for help. He tells him how much he misses him. Who are the people in your life that you go to for help? Is there anyone that you really miss spending time with?


:26 Barley encourages Ian to speak from from his heart’s fire, with passion. A passion is a strong feeling or emotion. What things are you most passionate about? What are the things in this world that you care the most about?


:32 The old Manticore used to be full of adventure and excitement. The Manticore used to say, “you have to take risks in life in order to have an adventure”. She then decides to take a risk and return to her adventurous self. Proverbs 3:5 says to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding”. What would it look like to trust God and take a risk? What type of adventure might God have planned for you?


:43 The Manticore explains how every curse has a core. It takes a curse-crusher to defeat it. In Genesis 3, the first humans made the mistake to trust themselves over listening to God. Their decision, to turn away from God and do what they wanted to do, was called sin. The “curse” of sin entered the Earth, causing God’s perfect creation to become broken. Now things just are the way they are supposed to be. In order to defeat this curse, Jesus lived a perfect life and took the punishment from us that we all deserved. That punishment was death. On the cross, Jesus defeated the curse of sin! How have you seen the ugly side of the "curse" of sin? What does it mean for us, knowing that Jesus defeated that curse?


:51 Ian admits that he thinks his brother, Barley, is a screw up. This hurts his brother’s feelings. Has anyone ever said something about you that hurt your feelings? Are you worried about how other people feel about you?


:59 Ian had to take a step of faith to believe that his magic bridge was there. According to Hebrews 11:1, “faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” Have you ever had to take a step of faith, believing with every step you took?


1:12 Barley shares a bad memory of his father when he was sick. It was a time he was really scared, which is a feeling he doesn’t want to experience again. Do you think it’s ever okay to feel scared? Can being scared ever be a good thing, or should you avoid being scared at all costs?


1:19 Ian is disappointed that he didn’t get to have certain experiences with his dad. He then realizes that he got to experience all of those wonderful things by sharing his life with his brother. He’s grateful for the incredible relationship he does get to have, instead of dwelling on the relationship he missed out on. Who are the people in your world that you get to share your life with? Have you told them lately how grateful you are for that?


1:24 Ian and Barley’s mom exclaims that she is a “mighty warrior”, protecting her sons from an evil curse. Jeremiah 20:11a says, “but the Lord is with me like a might warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.” When that verse says God is with you like a mighty warrior, what do you think that means?


1:27 Ian sacrificed himself, his own opportunity to meet his father, so that Barley could say a proper goodbye to him. Ian used his energy to give Barley what he always wanted and needed. Moses dedicated nearly his entire life to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and bringing them to the promise land. But did you know Moses himself never made it into the promise land? His mission in life was to free others and take them to where they needed to go. That’s incredibly selfless. In what way can you live for others, helping them get to where they need to go?


1:29 Ian’s dad said he was very proud of his sons. One day, after our time on Earth is up and we finally meet our Heavenly Father face-to-face, it will be the greatest joy in the world to hear God say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25:23). If we are faithful and trust Jesus with our whole heart, we’ll live forever in heaven one day knowing that our Father is proud of us. What do you think would need to happen for you to her those words from God one day?