I’m a straightforward film critic who typically avoids Illumination films due to their streak of mediocrity. While I don’t have a personal vendetta against the studio, they’ve become known for producing easily digestible movies with visual appeal but lacking substance. However, with their latest venture, ‘Migration,’ a surprisingly original film about a duck family’s journey to Jamaica, Illumination has created their best movie to date. The story follows the anxious duck Mack, voiced by Kumail Nanjiani, and his family on a whimsical adventure, and to my pleasant surprise, it stands out as the studio’s top-notch creation.
Despite my skepticism, ‘Migration’ managed to captivate me with its engaging narrative and well-crafted characters. Mack, along with his spirited wife Pam (Elizabeth Banks), adventure-hungry son Dax (Caspar Jennings), and innocent daughter Gwen (Tresi Gazal), embark on a journey filled with new venues, birds, and challenges, making it a delightful animated road trip.
The film’s unexpected success can be attributed to the collaboration between director Benjamin Renner and scriptwriter Mike White. Renner, known for ‘Ernest & Celestine,’ brings a fresh perspective with Looney Tunes-style slapstick gags and visually appealing designs, while White’s script maintains a focus on the family’s dynamics throughout the adventure. The voice performances, including Nanjiani and Banks, contribute to the film’s humor and charm.
Renner’s transition from 2D to 3D animation is evident in the film’s impressive visuals. The director emphasizes scale, providing viewers with a sense of flying alongside the Mallard family through vast, unfamiliar terrains. Notable sequences, such as the family navigating New York City, showcase Renner’s artistry and the film’s ambitious scope.
‘Migration’ stands out as the most anti-Illumination Illumination movie, deviating from the studio’s formulaic approach. The film avoids generic Western animated movie tropes, eschewing pop tunes, product placements, and pop culture references. Instead, it delivers a sophisticated and charming experience, defying expectations.
While ‘Migration’ follows a simple plot, it excels in execution, continuously delivering laughter without relying on the typical Minion humor. The film’s supporting characters, particularly Keegan-Michael Key’s Jamaican-accented Delroy, add to the humor and overall enjoyment. The silent chef villain introduces chaos and slapstick, creating entertaining scenarios where the birds outsmart him at every turn.
In conclusion, ‘Migration’ may not break new ground, but it succeeds in being a charming, timely, and unexpectedly great addition to Illumination’s lineup. It demonstrates the studio’s potential when they venture into original storytelling. Despite their next project being ‘Despicable Me 4,’ ‘Migration’ stands as a testament to what Illumination can achieve when they break away from their formula. It’s a short, sweet, and endlessly enjoyable film.
Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, Puss in Boots, Lord Farquaad