Review: Missing Link

A light film from Laika animation studio

Review: Missing Link

Laika dumbs down a fraction with an enjoyable family caper that misses its usual hand-crafted sophistication.

With its fifth and fluffiest film – a jovial but tame comedy about identity and acceptance – the grown-up animation studio Laika dials down its sophistication in favour of accessible Disney-esque conventions.

In the spirit of Around the World in Eighty Days, and with considerable loving homage paid to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, writer-director Chris Butler (ParaNorman) has crafted a stop-motion escapade that follows the feisty Victorian-era explorer Sir Lionel Frost (voiced by Hugh Jackman), an alienated Londoner obsessed with fabled brutes like the Loch Ness Monster.

To prove his credibility to the frowning sceptics of a posh members-only club, Sir Lionel journeys to the Pacific Northwest in search of a folkloric beast that could shed some light on humankind’s evolution.

Enter Zach Galifianakis’s Mr Link (aka ‘Susan’), a delightfully clumsy Big Bird-meets-Bigfoot creature suffering from a severe case of estrangement. Joined by the fearlessly independent Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana), the adventuresome duo embark on a quest to locate Mr Link’s distant relatives in the mythical Himalayan valley of Shangri-La, while Timothy Olyphant’s greedy villain hopes to derail the expedition.

Though vibrant in its craftsmanship (Nelson Lowry’s opulent production design spans continents and climates, while Deborah Cook’s period costumes deserve a shout-out), Missing Link doesn’t summon up heart-swelling emotions.

Recurring gags wear thin, and the film’s lip service to progressive values concerning immigration and feminism fizzles before it reaches anything meaningful.

Still, this vintage tale of camaraderie flaunts an old-fashioned innocence and some endearing defiance, exemplified by its sweet original song ‘Do-Dilly-Do (A Friend Like You)’. It’s worth a Friday morning watch.

A light film from Laika animation studio

Sweet messages and songs will appeal to young ones

Chris Butler

Now showing

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