For the longest time animated movies were either Disney or they were Disney. They all had the same basic look and storylines. The last couple of decades have seen efforts from filmmakers to distinguish themselves in some way, like animation style or type of story or famous voices for characters. Because I’m a child of the Disney-only era, it generally takes me a while to relax into whatever twist lands on my tv, from stylized fables like Kubo and the Two Strings or funny and gorgeous Pixar films.
The people who made Missing Link went with all human characters having long, sharp and very red noses. No, I never got used to it. I couldn’t seem to not notice the crimson beaks, but there were other aspects that were more subtle and smart and I appreciated them throughout. On the long, international tour of the 19th century world, most of the time the animation is standard modern, some beautifully whimsical moments, and scenes with what should have been jarring hyper-realistic imagery. You wouldn’t think a story told in so many different styles would work so well, but it really does. Shockingly, this is not a cgi generated movie, but stop action. I made some stop action once. It’s a pain in the behind and super meticulous work.
The voice work is good, with Emma Thompson’s short turn being the funniest. Characters ranged from stiff upper lip Victorian gentlemen to a hotheaded Hispanic woman to a chicken-headed Mongolian grandmother. (The chicken is actually a hilarious joke.) Cultural diversity enlivened the story on the trip around the world, from Victorian London to the American Wild West to 19th century passenger ships and Mongolian villages. The title character, a sasquatch from the American northwest is consistently funny and completely lovable. Mr. Susan Link wants to go meet his cousins, the Asian yeti in Shangri La, so he enlists the aid of famed explorer and investigator of mythical creatures Sir Lionel Frost to take him there. Frost’s biggest wish in life is to belong to the explorers’ boys club in London, so he takes up the challenge to finally prove himself worthy. Adventure ensues. The movie is supposed to be a comedy, and it starts off vaguely funny, but doesn’t really get wound up into really funny until past the half point. Because I’m a history geek I really enjoyed the portrayals of famous 19th century creatures like the Loch Ness Monster and the Fiji Mermaid. Check out the end credits with a great whimsical scene.
Missing Link is a surprising film, from the animation to the diverse cast to the unflinching look at Victorian “gentlemen” not being the noble men they made themselves out to be. I recommend watching this not just because it’s funny and good looking (except for those irritating red noses), but for the comfortably modern sensibilities.
MISSING LINK | Official Trailer