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The brother's dad was a complete jerk.
Laura simply didn't want them to know how awful he was and lied by telling nice but false stories of him after he died.
  • Better yet, he's actually the villain of the film, and the brothers will have to stop him from returning.

The pool mermaid is Ian's love interest
She'll be the one who convinces him to go on the quest to find magic.

One of brothers will die or get grievously injured but will be healed by the other.
The brother that finds the magic will use it to revive or heal their sibling instead of getting their father back.

The torch that Ian has in the teaser poster is a depowered wizard staff.

Ian and Barley's van will be destroyed at some point in the movie.
It'll force them to continue the quest on foot.
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Laura is a Stepford Smiler.
Related to the dad being a jerk WMG above. She puts on a cheerful attitude for her kids but in reality is actually deeply depressed about lying to them.

Barley will play licensed music throughout the film as a homage to his actor's previous role.
Some possible choices are
  • Magic by The Cars (it's already in the teaser trailer)
  • We Built This City by Starship
  • I'm Gonna Be 500 Miles by The Proclaimers
  • Beat It by Michael Jackson
  • Radio Ga Ga by Queen
  • Let's Dance by David Bowie
  • The Final Countdown by Europe
  • Blitzkrieg Bop by Ramones
  • I Ran by A Flock Of Seagulls
  • Policy Of Truth by Depeche Mode

Well, in the third trailer, we see that Barley has a "Quest Mix" mixtape, so possibly confirmed?

Magic is almost universally seen as a myth to most of the denizens of this world.
Barley is one of the few that openly believes in it due to being an adventure junkie. Here believing magic exists is akin to believing in ghosts or aliens.

The father will be voiced by John Ratzenburger.
As of the third trailer, Jossed.

If uncorns and pegasus really are like raccons or rats.
Then there is bound to be people that think they are cute and demesticate them to have as pets. That's why Barley has one on his van, he thinks they're cool.

Alicorns are equivalent to bears
Given that unlike unicorns/raccoons these critters can fly AND also have a horn, hey seem more like a serious threat. This could be fun determining what other magical creatures make up the fauna of the film’s universe.

Alternatively magic really doesn't exist.
Ian and Barley will just have learn that they have to accept their situation as it is.

It will be rated PG.
Considering it's about two teenaged guys on a road trip we should expect some cruder humor than usual.
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  • Considering the majority of Pixar films suffer from Avoid the Dreaded G Rating nowadays (except for ones that are already part of a G-rated franchise, like Cars 3 and Toy Story 4), this one seems pretty obvious. It'll be more surprising if it's Pixar's first PG-13-rated film.
  • Highly unlikely that Pixar would even go far on pushing the boundaries on its raunchy humor and risqué content.

Laura will find a second love at the ending.

This does fit in the Pixar theory.
It's just on a different planet.
  • Alternatively, it's set sometime between A Bug's Life and the Monsters franchise, and all of the characters are ancestral to the monsters, being mutated hybrids between various animal species.

Ian will abandon Barley at some point.
The movie is about a duo, so some separation must happen eventually. My guess is, after a big failure that wears both of them down emotionally, Ian will lose his patience and calls Barley out on his belief in magic still existing, saying it's stupid, and decides to go home. Barley will either still try to go on determined, or just gives up, until he realizes something that gives him hope again.

Barley will be Promoted to Parent at the end of the film.
The brothers will fail at finding their father, but Ian realizes that Barley is just as good a Parental Substitute.

The brothers find a recording of their dad...
...but it turns out to be short and disappointing.
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The world never stopped being magical.

Magic can never exist because whenever people learn something new, we define it as science, explain it, and dismiss its wonder. Hence electricity, radio, and chemistry, while all capable of producing effects people would one time have called "magic," are defined as normal and unmagical.

I theorize that the "Onward" world in fact has physics that differs substantially from our own, it's just been "scientized" and thus, for most people, lacks wonder. (Just like the unicorns are seen as mundane pests.) The plot of Onward will center around realizing that the world is wondrous as it is and magic was there all along.

Essentially, they will experience the Mooreeffoc effect: the realization that the mundane is actually mysterious and wonderful, if seen from a new angle.

To cement this theme, the "magic" that the brothers discover will be something that our world would consider completely ordinary and mundane.

Beside the unicorns and the dragons, there will be other fantasy animals taking the place of mundane species.
  • Manticores take the place of house cats. They look like cats except for their scorpion tails and bat wings.
    • This is jossed. Octavia Spencer voices Manracore, a manticore who gives the boys guidance on their journey. This indicates the Manticores are full-blown sapient creatures and not housecat-like pets.
      • Unless she’s an outlier for her species. Bakeneko might be good choices as these sorts of pets too.
      • She could easily be a rare talking manticore, with the boys getting surprised that a manticore can talk.
  • Griffins are also popular pets. Their behaviour is a mix of cats and parakeets. Non-domesticated griffins also exist and hunt for wild unicorns as well as jackalopes.
  • Phoenixes are common birds like sparrows and pigeons. They cause a lot of annoyance by spontaneously combusting and setting houses on fire. Thunderbirds are also common birds who occasionally cause electric discharges.
  • Basilisks are pests living in sewers and pipes. They have petrifying gazes, but it can be blocked by something as simple as sunglasses, and the petrification can easily be cured by an antidote.
  • Sea serpents are common in lakes. "Serpenting" is a popular parent-child bonding activity. The hydra is a multi-headed variant of the sea serpent and is considered as an extremely valuable catch.
    • Sazae-Oni, Ningyo, Kraken, Jenny Hannivers, and Monkfish are also fished.
  • Chupacabras are small creatures that reside in caves and go out at night to mundanely leech blood off of livestock, taking the place of vampire bats.
  • Kappa replace turtles. They are a little faster than turtles and are rather rambunctious, but otherwise aren't a threat. People often toss slices of cucumber their way, since they'll otherwise smell them out and try and get to them if there aren't any around, though most kappa live within proximity to naturally growing cucumbers.
  • Perytons replace deer. Other than flight, they serve the same function, and are simply pastel colored instead of feathered. Since they live in forests, they haven't gone entirely the way the unicorns have and mostly retreat when the humanoids come near.
  • Jackalopes take the place of rabbits, practically identical to them apart from their antlers.
  • As mentioned above, Alicorns are more dangerous pests to deal with than unicorns, due to them being able to fly.
    • But all the unicorns seen already have wings. Where's the distinction?
      • They’re bigger?
  • Ants are still ants...but in a nod to some myths, ants don't collect bits of food or sugar, but gold. When ants bother humanoids, it's because they are attracted to their jewelry.
  • Kongamato are a species of large bird that peacefully wade in swamps until humanoids intrude on their marked territory and ward them off with their lightly fanged bills.
  • Tanuki fill more or less the same niche as real-life raccoon dogs, but have the shapeshifting powers Japanese folklore attributes to them.
  • Frogs exist just like in real life, but many of them wear little golden crowns. Although tradition says these crowned frogs are bewitched elven princes and princesses, kissing them does nothing (since magic is established to no longer exist).
  • The Catoblepas and Bonnacon are both common herd animals, as are creatures such as the Squonk, Barometz, etc.
  • Much like how wolves exist alongside dogs, wild dragons still exist and are a massive danger, especially to ranchers. Several kinds would also exist, such as wyverns taking the place of coyotes.
  • Much like the Barometz above, many magical plants and fungi exist in the world. Mandrakes are gopher-like garden pests, for one thing.
  • Ahuizotl are a common sight at the zoo. They are similar to mandrills. Wild Ahuizotl can be dangerous, though.
  • The second trailer also implies some conventional animals, namely wild boar, still exist, as shown on a product called “Wild Boar Sticks” being sold at a gas station.

Practicing magic is actually illegal
That's why at one point, in the official trailer, Ian and Barley are in a car chase with cops.

The person they partially bring back isn't their father...
(Insert additional ones here)
  • ...but their stepfather.

Barley is a Power Metal Fan
He's likely a fantasy fan, based on referring to their search for their father as a quest, and wears fashion similar to Heavy Metal fashion, and Power Metal is often about fantasy
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