If there’s one animation studio that doesn’t get enough credit, that is indeed Laika. The created some of the best looking animated movies in while all with stop-motion that’s unbelievable incredible. The work that it takes to out the likes of Coraline (2009), ParaNorman (2012), The Boxtrolls (2014), and Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) with the hard work thrown into them, what’s not to love? Their latest film Missing Link might not be the best out of all of them, but it will surely lighten the mood for some people.
What’s the Story: In the 19th century, Sir Lionel Frost (voiced by Hugh Jackman) is an adventurer who seeks out myths and monsters. His life might change after he received a message that might lead him to the discovery of Sasquatch. Once he found this creature, it turns out that Mr. Link (voiced by Zach Galifianakis) is a harmless fellow who can speak English. He requests Frost’s help to guide him to the Himalayas where his Yeti cousins are hidden.
I was eager to see Missing Link even before knowing was it was about. You take a look at the trailers for this and might just think this could be a charming film to take your children when there isn’t a ton of options as of right now. Plus, this is something that seems to be different from the other movies from the studio. And you know what? Missing Link is definitely fun for all.
There’s no way to start off with the positive like talking about the beautiful animation put to use here. It is Laika, of course. This is another great use of stop-motion work that’s unbelievable how director Chris Butler (ParaNorman) and the animators were able to create these realistic set pieces through different countries. The wide shots established with the addition of visual effects for the backgrounds were amazing.
The voice talents are given good material to work with. Jackman always gives it his all with any role he’s given, and he lends some credibility to Lionel Frost. And I just love the character of Mr. Link. Maybe it was because of his literal sense, or it might be Galifianakis’ voice, but I knew he was gonna be lovable this 630 pounds and 8 feet tall creature based on the trailers. He’s just this sweet thing that’s a little smart and doesn’t come off as annoying. Both of them provide excellent chemistry.
Some of the other vocal performances that lend their voices were Zoe Saldana as Adelina, a free-spirit who joins in on the adventure; Stephen Fry as Lord Piggot-Dunceby, the leader of this snooty club Frost wants to join, and Timothy Olyphant as Willard Stenk, the bounty hunter locking eyes on Frost.
I also say I genuinely laughed through and through. A majority of them came from Mr. Link, but this is the kind of humor in kids’ film that works the best. It relies on dry humor that the young ones aren’t gonna get at this point in their lives, but the adults might have a ball with how well-written they turned out to be.
Where the film falters is the way the story is presented. From the looks of it, not a ton is surely original where both characters are helping each other out, and it doesn’t exactly provide a lot of sentimental depth with the exception of one scene. The story itself was fine but mostly leans of forgettableness. It’s just that Butler’s script didn’t explore anything that was possibly deep.
I walked out of Missing Link thinking Laika can’t do wrong in my eyes, and it’s a shame that nobody is checking this out. Sure, it might lack emotional storytelling, but it makes up for it with incredible stop-motion animation, talented voice work, and plenty of laughs that go along with a sweet message. Not one of the production studio’s greatest, but it’s worth a watch when you get the chance.