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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Dan's Review: "Missing Link" is missing a good story

Apr 12, 2019 10:22AM ● By Dan Metcalf

Hugh Jackman and Zach Galifianakis in Missing Link - © 2019 Annapurna Pictures.

Missing Link (Annapurna Pictures/Laika Studios)

Rated PG for action/peril and some mild rude humor.

Starring (voices of) Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, David Walliams, Timothy Olyphant, Matt Lucas, Amrita Acharia, and Ching Valdez-Aran.

Written and directed by Chris Butler.



Success has its drawbacks. Once you reach a certain level of excellence, consumers expect the same as you roll out new products or content. One of the higher-quality animation studios of recent years is Laika, producing some great, innovative stop-motion animated features, such as Coraline and ParaNorman, along with Kubo and the Two Strings, one of my favorite animated films. Their next project is Missing Link, the story of an explorer and his efforts to find and assist a “Sasquatch.”

Hugh Jackman voices Sir Lionel Frost, an English explorer intent on proving the existence of fabled creatures, such as the Loch Ness Monster. His travels lead him the Pacific Northwest of the U. S. Territories, where he discovers a tall, hairy, very sentient, intelligent (although somewhat dense) creature he names “Mr. Link” (Zach Galifianakis). Mr. Link wants Frost to help him locate his long-lost Yeti cousins in the high Himalayas, so he can join his own kind. Frost and Link travel to southern California to get a map from Adelina (Zoe Saldana), the widow of his dearly departed exploration partner. Adelina joins Frost and Link on their quest, which is often thwarted by Willard Stenk (Timothy Olyphant), the hired henchman of Lord Piggot-Dunceby (Stephen Fry), who hopes to keep Frost from entering an exclusive explorers club. Along the way, Frost, Link, and Adelina learn new things about themselves, which culminates in a surprise discovery in the Himalayas.

Missing Link is not a bad film. Its greatest asset is the Laika animation process, melding stop-motion with computerized special effects. The scenery and cinematography are incredible, creating some beautiful and compelling scenery. Galifianakis is often charming as Link, offering a simple innocence in contrast to the evil deeds of the modern world.

That’s the good news. The bad news is Missing Link is missing a very compelling story and dialogue that, aside from a few cute one-liners, relies heavily on potty humor (Link actually eats poop – ha, ha) and inane narratives. Most Laika films offer the audience a little reflection; a chance to learn something about humanity, like forgiveness, overcoming fears, tolerance, and connection to family. Some of those elements can be found in Missing Link, but they are overstated and obvious, with little nuance or options for the audience to work those lessons out on their own.

Don’t get me wrong. Missing Link is worth seeing, if only for the incredible visuals. Aside from that, it seems Laika is attempting to “go mainstream” with a movie that feels more like any number of other forgettable animated films.

"Missing Link" Trailer