Hugh Jackman, David Walliams, Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas, Zach Galifanakis, Timothy Olymphant, Zoe Saldana, Amrita Acharia, Ching Valdes-Aran, Emma Thompson
PG for action/peril and some mild rude humor
Buy on DVD/Blu-ray
The bigfoot legend has been a part of numerous cultures for a very long time and such creatures have been depicted on screen several times. Missing Link is the latest such film coming from the mind of Chris Butler, the acclaimed animator behind Laika’s masterwork ParaNorman.
Butler takes a much more child-like tone with this feature from his own screenplay, a departure from the more dark and dense features in the Laika slate. The film centers around Hugh Jackman providing the voice of a self-centered explorer intent on joining a crusty old British explorers society. Lionel Frost goes off in search of the legendary sasquatch who has been sited in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.
Upon arrival, he discovers the Missing Link himself who has named himself Susan and is voiced by Zach Galifianakis. As Frost escorts Susan on a journey back to England so he can prove himself the equal of the vainglorious explorers guild, that organization’s leader (Stephen Fry) has sent an assassin (Timothy Olyphant) to try and kill Frost and bring Susan back to steal the acclaim. Frost is later joined by Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana) as he changes his plans and embarks on a trek towards the Himalayas so that Susan can find a home among the legendary yeti of that region.
Looking quite a bit like the live-action adventure film Around the World in 80 Days, Laika does a tremendous job evoking the cool blues and greens of Washington state, the warm russets of the wild American West, the dark and briny environment of an oceanic steamliner, and the frosty peaks of the Himalayas. The vast landscapes alone are worth the price of admission, but as always, the character animations are superb.
So too are the vocal performances from Jackman, Galifianakis, Saldanda, Fry, Olyphant, Emma Thompson as the leader of the Himalayan yeti, and others. The film is perhaps a bit too much like Around the World in 80 Days to feel genuinely original, but as a kid-friendly animated adventure film, it’s very fun. Laika has produced some of the best animated films in the last two decades with the likes of Coraline, ParaNorman, and Kubo and the Two Strings defining it as one of the greatest animation houses in history. Missing Link falls at the bottom of their list of features in terms of overall quality, just below the inventive but somewhat dull BoxTrolls. Even at the bottom of the list, the film is better than a lot of the drudgery that has come out of Disney and Pixar in their off years.
Missing Link is a rip-roaring adventure around the world that will thrill audiences of all ages with kids the targeted and expected demographic. While it might have a paucity of adult-friendly jokes and situations, parents should find it a diverting enough experience to watch it with their youngsters.
March 2, 2020