Another charmer for Laika, if not a stop-motion masterpiece
I’ve been curious about how movie-goers have been treating stop-motion animated films lately. For one thing, “Early Man,” a goofy Aardman entry, got stoned to death by the box office success of “Black Panther. Another thing, I’ve done my best to help make sure Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” found and audience, and it ended up with Oscar nominations.
But in “Missing Link’s” case, the Laika produces delightful entries, although they weren’t as finically successful as “Coraline.” Ever since that movie, here’s my take on their flicks. “ParaNorman” was hilarious with its crazy sense of humor and mature content; “The Boxtrolls” wasted a fabulous idea of monsters wearing cardboard boxes by giving it an immature and ugly cartoon villain; and “Kubo and the Two Strings” had a comical and emotional side to itself.
Now, I’m debating on my opinion for “Missing Link.” It doesn’t have a compelling story, and sometimes, it’s a bit predictable; but on a positive note, it does have fine voice work, remarkable animation, and a goofy charm that I’ve seen in an animated bomb from 19 years ago called “The Road to El Dorado.” If you haven’t heard of that, look it up.
The story takes place in London in the late 1800s, when we meet Sir Lionel Frost (voiced by Hugh Jackman), who tries and fails to get proof of mythical creatures. He receives a letter from a mysterious creature known as Sasquatch, and travels to America to find it.
Only it isn’t an it; it’s a he. Unlike another Bigfoot charmer called “Smallfoot,” both the humans and creatures can understand one another. Zach Galifianakis voices the Sasquatch, and he asks Lionel to help him find Yetis who may be his cousins in the Himalayas. So, he gives him the name Mr. Link. Like Missing Link.
So they steal a map from Lionel’s old lover Adelina (voiced by Zoe Saldana), who tags along with them. Meanwhile, Lionel’s rival Lord Piggot-Dunceby (voiced by Stephen Fry) hires an American bounty hunter (voiced by Timothy Olyphant) to kill Lionel for the Sasquatch.
The story in “Missing Link” is kind of predictable, mainly when we get to the yeti section of the movie, and a would-be love story between Lionel and Adelina. So, I wouldn’t go crazy in calling the movie first-rate.
But as always, Laika offers dazzling animation, spiked with a hint of comedy and drama. The best use of their figures and sets is when a ship travels through a stormy wave, and Lionel is running on the walls from his killer. Even the studio’s usual end credits seem to have a fun time showing young movie goers how their movies are made.
And I especially admire the voice work from Jackman, who has a strong adventure attitude, Saldana, who uses her independent charms as a woman, and Galfianakis, who offers some very silly dialogue, sort of a PG version of his character Alan from “The Hangover.”