Missing Link (2019) ☆☆☆1/2(3.5/4): Around the World with Mr. Link

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Animation feature film “Missing Link” is another delightful work from Laika Studios, which has steadily entertained us with a series of commendable stop-motion animation movies such as “Coraline” (2009) and “Kubo and the Two Strings” (2016). While dazzling us with its lovely visual moments to be cherished, the film also works as a funny and likable adventure story revolving around an unlikely friendship between its two different main characters, and I must say that I was frequently amused and delighted during my viewing at last night.

During the opening scene, we are introduced to Sir Lionel Frost (voiced by Hugh Jackman), an aspiring adventurer in the late 19th century England who has been quite interested in investigating mythical creatures. For many years, he has yearned to join a club of adventurers headed by Lord Piggot-Dunceby (voiced by Stephen Fry), and that is the main reason why he attempts to photograph the monster of Loch Ness, but, not so surprisingly, he fails in his mission although he manages to behold that monster in question.

Anyway, not long after he returns to London, Sir Frost receives a letter from some remote area in Washington, US, which tells him that a Sasquatch, which is also known as ‘Big Foot’, has been inhabiting somewhere in that area. Quite excited about another possibility of adventure and discovery, Frost comes to make a bet on the discovery of Sasquatch with Lord Piggot-Dunceby, and he soon embarks on his journey to the Pacific Northwest, but it turns out that his search for Sasquatch is quite easier than he expected. When he arrives at a spot from which the letter was sent, he spots a big figure watching him from the distance, and, what do you know, that big figure is indeed a Sasquatch – and this Sasquatch is the one who sent the letter to Frost.

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The reason why this Sasquatch, who is later named Susan Link (voiced by Zach Galifianakis) although being male, needed Frost to come to his place is pretty simple. As the only surviving member of his species, he has been very lonely for many years, but he recently came to learn about Yetis, and he wants Frost to take him to the hidden habitat of Yetis, which is located somewhere in the Himalayas. Although he is a bit reluctant at first, Frost eventually agrees to help Link, and they subsequently go to California for meeting his old girlfriend Adelina Fortnight (voiced by Zoe Saldana), whose recently diseased husband, who was also an adventurer like Frost, left a secret map which may lead them to the hidden habitat of Yetis.

Although she is not that pleased to see her old boyfriend again at first, Adelina eventually joins Frost and Link, and they soon find themselves pursued by Willard Stenk (voiced by Timothy Olyphant), a sleazy bounty hunter who is hired by Lord Piggot-Dunceby for stopping Frost from winning the bet and is ready to do anything as demanded by his employer. At one point, he tries an ambush when Frost, Link, and Adelina are on a ship sailing from New York City to London, and that leads to an exhilarating action sequence which somehow reminded me of a certain memorable action scene in “Inception” (2010).

And the screenplay by director/writer Chris Butler, who was previously Oscar-nominated for “ParaNorman” (2012), keeps throwing many good moments for laughs. I was often tickled by Link’s constant clumsiness, and I was also frequently amused by how he usually takes words too literally, which functions as a running gag throughout the film. While I must say that the development of Link and Frost’s relationship is rather predictable, it is depicted well with enough sincerity and sweetness at least, and they become more endearing to us than before around the end of the story.

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In addition, the film has numerous superb visual moments filled with vibrant moods and rich details to savor. In case of the snowy sequence unfolded in the Himalayas, it may remind you a bit of “Frozen” (2013) for good reasons, but it is still breathtaking to watch nonetheless, and you will appreciate more of the painstaking efforts from the technical crew members of the film, who surely worked very hard during the production of the film as briefly shown in the middle of the end credits.

Although the characters in the film are broad archetypes, they are imbued with a lot of colorful personality thanks to the spirited voice acting from its main cast members. While Hugh Jackman, who is no stranger to charm and bravado, deftly goes back and forth between silliness and seriousness, Zach Galifianakis dials down his comic intensity a little for his earnest deadpan voice performance, and he and Jackman are effortless in their many comic interactions throughout the film. In case of the other main cast members, Zoe Saldana holds her own small place well between Jackman and Galifianakis as bringing considerable fiery spirit to her character, and Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas, Timothy Olyphant, and Emma Thompson are also effective in their respective supporting roles.

Overall, “Missing Link” is a superlative animation film which can entertain both young and adult audiences, and it is a shame that it did not draw much attention from audiences although it received a lot of praises from critics when it was released in US several months ago. In short, this is one of the better animation films of this year, and I sincerely urge you to check it out as soon as possible.

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