Thursday, April 18, 2019

Movie Review: "Missing Link" (2019)

Director: Chris Butler
Year: 2019
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Sir Lionel Frost goes on a quest to find the mythical Sasquatch to win a bet and to be accepted into the adventurers club. When he meets the legendary creature, he makes a deal with it. He will help this missing link get to his relatives in the Himalayas in exchange for proof of their existence.

Missing Link 2019 movie still
"You were mauled by a prehistoric sea creature. How many people can claim that?" (Image Source)
We absolutely adore stop motion animation, and of the few studios that work in this artistic medium, Laika is our favorite. They have consistently produced entertaining films like "Coraline," "ParaNorman," and "Kubo and the Two Strings." Their latest feature "Missing Link" (2019) is written and directed by Christ Butler, who is also the writer and director of the aforementioned "ParaNorman." This film follows an adventurer named Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman), who has made it his life's work to discover creatures once thought to be mythical. Frost's dream is to be accepted as part of the explorers club, which is populated by small-minded old men who are stuck in the past and are more known more for murdering majestic wild creatures than doing anything noble in their adventures. The members of this society hate Frost and his ideas, but he still wants to join their old boy's club. So, he makes a bet with one of the association's most regarded members, Lord Piggot-Dunceby (Stephen Fry), that he will discover proof of the existence of the legendary Sasquatch. If he accomplishes his task, they will accept him as a member. When Frost finds this mythical creature, he isn't exactly what he expected. Frost makes a deal with the Bigfoot who he calls Mr. Link (Zack Galifianakis) to help him get to his cousins, the yetis, in the Himalayas, if Mr. Link will give Frost evidence of his existence.
Missing Link 2019 movie still Hugh Jackman Zach Galifianakis Zoe Saldana
"Of course you want to become one of us - we're great men!" (Image Source)
Laika Studios continues to raise the bar for stop-motion animated films with each title they release. The passion, talent, vibrancy, and beauty for this craft are apparent and on display in each and every frame of "Missing Link" (2019). Laika not only creates artful and gorgeous animated films, but it also produces stories that deal with thoughtful themes that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults alike. This movie tells a story about finding your place in the world and what it means to find where you truly belong and discovering your own adventure. It explores the idea of what it means to be a family, how "family" is not always about blood relations or being of the same ethnicity (or even species in this case), but about finding people who really care about you and are willing to help you when you are in need. There is also an underlying social commentary in this film, and it is no accident that the villains of this tale are a club of old men whose idea of adventure is killing animals like lions, rhinoceros, and elephants. Remind you of anyone? They are also a group that shuns scientific advancement and are willing to suppress new discoveries so that they can hang on to their way of life. These villains are stuck in the past, they fear progress, and they also want to conserve their place of power through any means necessary. Though this film takes place in the Victorian era, its message can (and should) easily be applied to today's world.

Beyond its important, pertinent message, the voiceover work here is fantastic. Hugh Jackman was the perfect choice to play Sir Lionel Frost because he can play a character that is both self-absorbed yet undeniably charming. Zoe Saldana is also excellent as Adelina Fortnight, a strong female character looking to forge her own path in life. Stephen Fry is great as the stuffy, usurping Lord Piggot-Dunceby. Despite all of these fine performances, it is Zach Galifianakis who really steals the show as Mr. Link. He is utterly fantastic in this role and brings the laughs constantly. Aided by some terrific writing, his character takes everything literally, much like Drax the Destroyer in "Guardians of the Galaxy." This allows for many dry but hilarious moments of comedy from the interactions between Mr. Link and Frost, and Galifianakis's comedic timing and wit are ideal for these types of exchanges.
Missing Link 2019 movie Laika Animation
"His hope rests in your hands, Lionel." (Image Source)
"Missing Link" (2019) might not be as emotionally powerful as "Kubo and the Two Strings," but that doesn't make it any less grand and breathtakingly gorgeous. Laika Studios has yet to disappoint us.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.1/10
RT Rating: ~90%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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