From famed animation studio Laika, creator of hits like Coraline (2009), Kubo and the Two Strings (2016), and ParaNorman (2012), came the beautiful stop motion film ‘Missing Link’. The movie won the Golden Globe for Best Animation, beating out three Disney films and one Dreamworks film.
To see a stop motion win over the dominating force of the animation world known as Disney is nothing short of spectacular, and in this case, very much deserved. On visual terms alone, the colors are strikingly gorgeous, the animation is unique and aesthetically pleasing to watch, and every movement has viewers encapsulated in the world it creates. Storyline wise, it’s fresh and unlike any overdone trope that normally dominates the category of animation in the world of large companies like Disney, Pixar, or Dreamworks. The dialogue would be entertaining for more than just children, though that is the target demographic of the movie, it also would be far more than enjoyable for older audiences, cracking jokes about electricity, suffrage, and evolution, as it is set in the late 19th century.
The movie follows Mr. Lionel Frost, voiced by Hugh Jackman, who has set out in search of the impossible. In fact, the opening scene is his attempt to capture a photo with a lochness monster type animal. Frost receives a letter asking him to travel and meet, or in his words, discover, a big foot-esque creature. Before Frost sets out on his journey, the audience meets the antagonist, Lord Piggot-Dunceby, voiced by Stephen Fry, who is anti-discovery of a sasquatch because Frost describes the sasquatch as the missing link in proving man’s descension from apes. Since it is the 19th century, Dunceby voices his distaste for the theory of evolution, as well as Frost’s desire to prove it as truth, and vows to hire someone to kill him.
Frost arrives in the home of the creature and is surprised to find that he is educated, eloquent, and that he is the one who wrote the letter. Frost bestows the name of Mr. Link upon him, who is seeking help to find more of his kind, a family. He asks Frost to take him to the yetis for he believes they are his cousins; he desires to go so he doesn’t have to spend the rest of his life alone. This preface is a tad heartbreaking, and the gentle Mr. Link is immediately likable as opposed to Mr. Frost who seems to have ulterior motives for fame and glory.
The movie is littered with clever jokes and quips, some at Mr. Link’s expense. It’s enough to be engaging and comedic but it doesn’t pack so many jokes in to try and get one that lands like some children’s movies do. The attention to detail is immaculate, providing layers and layers of intricate artwork to paint together the world of ‘Missing Link’. No shot of the entire movie is boring to look at, viewers could pause the movie at any point and it would take hours to fully grasp every detail of the scene.
Warning, spoilers ahead.
The audience follows the duo on their journey to the Himalayas, encountering the hitman Willard Stenk, voiced by Timothy Olyphant, which causes a barfight to ensue. The lovable and timid Mr. Link, voiced by Zach Galifianakis, proves himself to be nonthreatening, looking fearful during the brawl. Stenk gets away, and the pair go along their journey, encountering obstacles and delivering jokes left and right along the way. They also gain another adventurer on their path, Adelina Fortnight, voiced by Zoe Saldana, who acts in teaching empathy and selflessness to Frost.
Mr. Link finally gets to the Himalayas, only to find that his snowy cousins want nothing to do with him. Dunceby arrives to the hideaway city of yetis and is defeated in a thrilling battle with the adventurers. In a heartwarming twist, Frost makes Mr. Link his partner in adventuring and each of them finds a family in each other.
The movie teaches lessons of friendship, empathy, and the importance of each other over fame and glory. Overall, this joy to watch deserved the honor of best animation, even when in tough competition with some of the world’s largest animation companies.