‘Missing Link’ is Missing Some of that Old Laika Magic

I absolutely adore Laika Studios and the movies they produce. Coraline, The Boxtrolls, Paranorman, and Kubo and the Two Strings count amongst my favorite animated movies and, anytime a new Laika movie is released into theaters, it’s a guarantee that I will be there.

Well, there’s a new movie… and, of course, I went.

This new stop motion movie is called Missing Link and it follows an English adventurer, trying his darnedest to get into a society of fellow adventurers. This man follows a letter to America where he meets a talking Sasquatch who, being the last of his kind, asks to be taken to the Himalayas so that he can be with his distant cousins. What follows is a rollicking around the world adventure comedy… and it’s fine.

I’ve got lots to say about it, but before I do, it’s going to sound like I didn’t like this movie. I want to make it clear that I did… and the movie is fine. It’s original, its charming, the vocal performances are wonderful, and it has some of the best scenery I’ve seen in a stop motion movie. This is praise and I’ll say ahead of time that I enjoyed and recommend that others see this movie because Laika movies… for some awful reason, never make the money that they should.

That being said, however, I am disappointed. As far as Laika movies go, this one is the most standard and ordinary.

Kubo and the Two Strings, probably my favorite of the lot, was layer upon layer about finding your place in the world, dealing with abuse, and a multitude of other themes woven into a thrilling tapestry that was exciting and deep.

Paranorman was a gloriously subversive film about bullying, fear, and judging people before you know them. I’ve never seen a movie so easily and gleefully turn expectations on its ear and have each and every twist not only work, but further the plot in magnificent ways.

Coraline was terrifying, original, and I still marvel at the imagination involved in it. It was weird, wacky, and terrifying all in one.

I didn’t care for The Boxtrolls the first time I saw it, but on repeat viewings I’ve recognized it for the skillful and cautionary tale of expectations and forcing yourself into a life not suited for you. It’s now a prized addition to my collection of movies.

This is where I am disappointed with Missing Link… it’s very superficail… on the surface it’s a road comedy and that’s all it strives to be. It’s a very good and very charming road comedy, but it’s all surface and no depth. I kept waiting to see the deeper meaning that Laika puts in all of their movies to make them truly memorable and Missing Link is missing that crucial element. Sure, there is a message about family and belonging, but, again… it was surface level and predictable.

Laika has high standards and this was like watching Pixar fart out Cars all over again.

Okay, it wasn’t that bad.

I must stress once again that I did enjoy and recommend this movie, but Laika has spoiled me. I guess I’m greedy and expected more and that’s a fault that lies with me and me alone. I guess I can’t blame the studio for watching to cut loose and just go for a complete and utter comedy with no deep meaning and no life lessons, but I am disappointed that they did and I can only focus on the missed opportunities I saw unfold in front of me.

Will I be adding this movie to my collection? Most assuredly, but I doubt it will ever climb into my favorites category.

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