Jacob Richardson | 15/04/2019
A harmlessly frothy, upbeat piece of animated entertainment.
Tired of living a solitary life in the Pacific Northwest, Mr Link (Zach Galifianakis) who is 8 feet tall and covered in fur, recruits fearless explorer Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman) to guide him on a journey to find his long-lost relatives in the fabled valley of Shangri-La. Along with adventurer Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana), the trio encounters their fair share of peril as they travel to the far reaches of the world. Through it all, they learn that sometimes one can find a family in the places one least expects.
Laika as a studio is probably best known for its indelible work on Kubo and the Two Strings, one of the most incredible pieces of animation in the modern era. Alas, Missing Link doesn’t hit these highs.
The film feels somewhat banal, the humor and drama never linking in the way Laika has previously done. Mr. Link and Lionel’s bond never verges on true emotion, instead feeling staid and well-trodden as a story arc.
Further, the plot not only comes across as generic, but cuts out large swathes of potentially interesting developments. While the group travels across America, to London, and then across Europe to India, the film focuses on the US, London and a ship. What about the jungles of India, the forests of Germany, or the innumerable other incredible European and Asian sites that this group could have visited? For a company so visual, it is a shame that this film plays it safe with continental US.
That being said, there is a lot to love about the movie. Hugh Jackman plays a gloriously schmaltzy anti-hero, and Galifianakis’ performance is frequently fun. There are also a number of laugh out loud moments, which keep the movie humming along nicely.
Laika continues to push the boundaries in terms of animation craft, and that is certainly appreciated here. And the movie is fun, upbeat and undoubtedly a joy for children. That being said, it does seem a shame that Laika hasn’t pushed the boundaries more to deliver a piece to rival its previous work.
Good enough for kids, but not to the usual high standards of this innovative animation studio.