There’s nothing simple about stop-motion animation and the painstaking, lengthy process of capture movement and expression to create a story. Hours upon hours upon hours are required to just create a small piece of a film. It has been no small feat for Laika, the studio responsible for Coraline, Kubo and the Two Strings, and, now, Missing Link.
Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman) is on a mission to make a name for himself, to gain acceptance from those who discount his ideas and ambitions, and to change the world through finding the mysterious and unknown. This is clear when at the movie’s outset, Frost comes face-to-face with the Loch Ness Monster and comes frustratingly close to proving its existence. His camera, however, is destroyed in the process and he continues to be a joke.
Moving on from this failure, Sir Lion Frost proposes a wager to the high-society, elite organization he seeks to join in London. Up to this point, the members of this organization have ridiculed and made fun of him, but Frost is not discouraged in his efforts. The offer is simple. If Frost can prove the existence of the rumored Sasquatch of the American Northwest, he will be given membership to the organization. This deal is made with Lord Piggot-Dunceby (Stephen Fry) who makes himself out to be the leader of this group of explorers, although it is never said if he actually he is. The deal is accepted, but, in revealing his true colors, Lord Piggot-Dunceby resolves to stop Sir Lion Frost from succeeding and hires a man to kill him.
In the American northwest, Frost does just what he sets out to do. He discovers the Sasquatch. He is the missing link between man and something older in the grand-scale of evolution. This sasquatch is subsequently named Mr. Link (Zach Galifianakis). Together, Frost and Mr. Link must decide what to do, and Frost discovers precisely what it was that brought him to meet the legend. What ensues is an epic, in its own right, about friendship, purpose, and responsibility.
With Missing Link, the beauty if found in the story’s simplicity. And it’s impressive. For adults, what happens and how the movie ends can be seen from a mile away, but the stop-motion animation makes this a pleasant viewing experience. In order to make up for some of the simplicity, there are plenty of jokes and subtle references only adults would understand. But, children can also appreciate the artistry of Missing Link and the slap-stick antics and jokes onscreen. It is, after all, a children’s movie and that shouldn’t be overlooked.
At just one hour and thirty-five minutes, Missing Link is short and makes for a quick outing with family and kids. Viewers don’t have to worry about the story dragging on or spending too much time in a crowded theater.
There really isn’t anything negative to say about the movie. However, if there is one criticism to make, it would be that it lacks some of the emotional investment it could offer with viewers. While what you see is beautiful and the story is engaging, there’s never really a moment that wins you over to become invested or concerned. The story arc isn’t particularly unique, but it does its job as a children’s movie. Because the story is mostly predictable, adults are mostly along for the ride as they pick out the nods thrown in for them.
Missing Link never became a box office hit, and it has mostly flown under-the-radar. With just a few weeks in theaters and soon to be replaced by other theatrical offerings, Missing Link makes for a reasonable rental or streaming choice at home and would be a welcome addition to anybody’s physical collection, especially stop-motion enthusiasts.