Presented by the Northwest Film Forum, the Children’s Film Festival Seattle kicks off Friday, February 3 with a doozy of a movie, one that has already found cult popularity since it’s theatrical release in 2019. From the creative minds at LAIKA, a Portland-based animation company, “Missing Link” will keep even the squirmiest of viewers in rapt engagement with its swash-buckling story and eye-popping visuals.
Writer-director Chris Butler and Head of Practical Effects Oliver Jones will be in attendance for this special screening, along with a few of their puppets. Though this film has been out in the world for nearly four years we’re providing a special review in honor of the festival’s opening night.
Individual tickets for the event can be found on the festival’s website. Additionally, passes are available for virtual, in-person and hybrid attendance for all the events, workshops and screenings going on from February 3 through 12.
Cut to the chase: Stunning stop motion animation, a globe-trotting, adventure-seeking storyline, a charismatic, endearing leading creature… “Missing Link” is animation at its finest, transporting audiences to all the magical crevices of one’s imagination.
Featuring talented voice-over work to accompany the staggering effects of this particular artform which landed the film an Oscar nomination, “Missing Link” follows Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman), an explorer hoping to improve his reputation at his old boys club of fellow voyagers. After receiving a mysterious letter, Frost travels to the wild countryside of our very own Washington state to prove the existence of the behemoth, legendary monster: the Sasquatch.
What he finds in the incandescent woods is hardly a volatile beast. Mr. Link (Zach Galifianakis) is a Sasquatch who has learned to speak and write, yearning not for carnage, but for companionship and civilization. He needs Frost’s help in finding his distant ancestors, the Yetis, a long-lost breed rumored to reside in the mythic valley of Shangri-La. The duo set off, enlisting the aid of fellow journeywoman Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana), to outsmart their pursuers and reunite Sasquatch, who comically prefers to be called Susan, with his relatives.
Full of inventive confrontations and vivacious characters, “Missing Link” is classic LAIKA in that it broadly appeals to parents as much as it does to children. Clean, though adult-leaning jokes flow through the script. (One of the film’s villains bemoans the expansion of modern ideas, like electricity and the suffrage movement, for example.) And the story never sits too long in one place, ever-moving into a new setting or set of hijinks.
Very young viewers may not be able to fully follow all the places the film goes, but elementary school age kids and older will be entranced by Mr. Link’s goofy physicality and Frost’s aloof temperament. Admirers of stop motion animation will delight in this one, bringing the far reaches of the world and the mythical creatures of storybook legends into dizzyingly delightful color.
‘Missing Link’: Chris Butler, US, 2019, 93 min, in English
MPAA Rating: PG for action/peril and some mild rude material
Recommended Age: 7+
Nightmare Inducers: Apart from the mild violence – mainly “bad guys” pursuing the “good guys” in a bar fight and an icy escapade in the finale, plus a multitude of weapons like guns, axes, spears, etc. – “Missing Link” does not feature anything that should stick with younger viewers. The “monsters” are tame and animated with generally friendly faces. Some or most of the threats may go over their heads.
Difficult Concepts or Emotions: The film has no qualms about its frequent portrayal of guns, and there is a shoot-out at seemingly every stop on their journey. Children and families easily triggered by the pulling of a trigger should be wary.
Can’t make opening night at CFFS? ‘Missing Link’ is also streaming on various OTT platforms (Netflix, Amazon etc.)
More entertainment in Seattle’s Child:
Disney’s “Strange World”: pretty, progressive and kind of forgettable
Meet the family who made “The Arctic: Our Last Great Wilderness”