Meticulous effort pays off in stop-motion ‘Missing Link’


Stop-motion animation might be a lost art form, but “Missing Link” from Laika studios proves the style is still very fun to watch.

Laika has been putting out small, under-appreciated stop-motion animated films for years now, and their latest is just as charming as the rest. “Missing Link” is an impressive achievement in animation with a delightful look, a fun cast and a good story.

And knowing the hard work and detailed effort that went into making the film makes the whole experience even more exciting.

When heroic adventurer Sir Lionel Frost hunts down the legendary Sasquatch in the Pacific Northwest, he meets Susan, the educated but lonely Bigfoot. Frost promises to take Susan to the other side of the world to Shangri La, home of the Yeti. They’re joined on their adventure by Frost’s ex-girlfriend, Adelina, and are pursued by rival adventurers who want to hunt the Sasquatch and discredit Frost.

The story is simple, but the characters, the voice-acting and the animation really bring it to life. All of the characters are charming in their own right, especially comedian Zach Galifianakis as Susan the Sasquatch. Susan is a friendly and naive hero who has a touch of difficulty understanding turns of phrase.

Hugh Jackman disappears into the heroic role of Lionel Frost, keeping a stiff British upper lip alongside Susan’s cheerful comedy. They make a great team and are always fun to watch.

The real star of the show is the stop-motion animation, which is spectacular in “Missing Link”. Just knowing that animators worked meticulously to ruffle every tuft of hair and position every glancing eyebrow in every frame of this film is astounding.

Especially when you consider how much action the movie contains, from death-defying stunts to speedy railroads to a thrilling fight scene on a ship being tossed in a storm.

The animators at Laika time and again prove themselves masters of their craft, and “Missing Link” is their finest showcase yet.

If I have any complaints, it’s that the script could have used a few revisions here or there to iron out some inconsistencies.

For example, in order for Sir Frost to learn a lesson and grow as a person, the dialogue tries to state that he’s a selfish jerk, but the movie itself never really goes down that road. Frost is only ever trying to fulfill his promise to Susan. He never lies to Susan, never tricks him, never exploits him in any way; but the script keeps insisting he’s acting selfishly.

It’s an odd disconnect, but not a deal-breaker. The script could have just used a bit more polish.

“Missing Link” is a fun and cheerful adventure film where the devil is most definitely in the hand-crafted details.


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