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Family Movie Review: Missing Link (PG)

‘Missing Link’ is gorgeously animated, gently funny, and fiercely inclusive.

Kernel Rating: 4.5 (4.5 out of 5)

MPAA Rating: PG              Length: 95 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 8+. The animated film is about an adventurer who finds the mythical Sasquatch figure, befriends it, and tries to help the creature find his relatives in the Himalayas. The friendship and trust developed between those two characters is a positive message thorughout the film. They encounter danger throughout their journey from characters brandishing guns; there are some shootouts, fistfights, and other violence, including an assassin who threatens both the main characters and a grandmother/grandson duo. Various characters die, including by falling from a great height, and a character almost drowns. No modern language, but some Victorian-era slang expressions are used; a scene takes place in a Western saloon; adult characters drink alcohol; some gross moments, including a character who willingly eats animal dung; and a man and woman with a romantic past flirt and nearly kiss.

By Roxana Hadadi

Sir Lionel Frost (voiced by Hugh Jackman, of “The Greatest Showman”) is a very particular man. While searching for the Loch Ness Monster on a Scottish lake, he demands a cup of tea at just the right temperature. His home is littered with anthropological artifacts and cultural remnants. And he’s desperate to join an adventurers’ club as a way to legitimize himself — a desire that sets off the action in “Missing Link,” the latest from stop-motion animation studio Laika and a beautifully told tale about inclusion and diversity.

MissingLink2 ChesapeakeFamilyMovieReviewLaika’s track record is phenomenal, and its films are consistently much stranger — and more earnest — than most other mainstream animated children’s or family offerings. “The Boxtrolls” had grotesque moments, but gently taught viewers to avoid judging people by their first impressions; “Kubo and the Two Strings” educated audiences about Japanese customs and, like Disney’s “Coco,” highlighted the beauty and detail of another culture. “Missing Link” picks up both of those varying themes and moves them forward, presenting a story that skips around the globe in pursuit of belonging and family. The visuals are beyond gorgeous and the narrative is heartwarming and empowering.

The film sends Frost to the American West, where he is determined to find the mythical Sasquatch, the “missing link” in the evolution between humans and great apes. Although his quest is in opposition to the very adventurers’ club he wants to join — who refuse to believe that people could have evolved from animals — Frost is immediately successful and is found by the beast in question. But the animal who Sir Frost dubs Mr. Link (voiced by Zach Galifianakis, of “A Wrinkle in Time”) is, well, the exact opposite of what he expected. He’s exceedingly polite and considerate. He’s never really interacted with people before, so he’s a little bit naive. And he’s lonely, the last of his kind.

Just as it was Sir Frost’s goal to find Mr. Link, it is Mr. Link’s goal to reunite with who he thinks may be his long-lost family — the Yeti in the Himalayas. And so the two team up, along with Adelina Fortnight (voiced by Zoe Saldana, of “Avengers: Infinity War”), an old flame from Frost’s past who is a gutsy, intelligent adventurer in her own right, to travel to the mountain range in Asia and find a new home for Mr. Link.

From an animation point of view, “Missing Link” is honestly staggering: The level of detail in these figures, and the production design of the locations from Frost’s apartment to the American Wild West to the icy gorgeousness of the Himalayas, are exceptional. The film presents an immersive world visually, and then expands upon it with themes that emphasize diversity, inclusion, and friendship. Mr. Link eventually chooses his own name. Adelina refuses to be saved; she’d rather do the saving. And during their journey, Frost realizes that his desires were selfish and his need to be a famous adventurer was self-serving. Plus, this is all accomplished with quite a bit of humor — the movie gets a lot of leverage out of Mr. Link’s sincere cluelessness about the world around him — and with a brisk pace. The 95-minute run time never drags.

Every element of “Missing Link” is in service of the idea that pervades so many of Laika’s family films: that kindness is not difficult, and that inclusion is a necessary asset to the advancement of our society and the growth of our culture. All of those themes are delivered beautifully in “Missing Link.”

 Interested in a previously released film? Read our reviews of films already showing in your local theater. 

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