In Laika’s newest animated film, a British adventurer, Lionel (Hugh Jackman), seeks out the elusive sasquatch. He does this not for research or sport, but to secure a place in some high society club. You see, his peers look down Lionel. They don’t consider his work worthy and they just plain don’t like him or want him around. Nonetheless, Lionel is determined to prove the small-minded men wrong.
After a long journey, Lionel finds the sasquatch (Zach Galifianakis) and to his surprise, he’s a delightful and gentle creature. He’s sweet, polite, speaks perfect English and all around his cave are books he stole from the village to teach himself to read and write. Lionel dubs the creature, Mr. Link (though he later names himself Susan). Susan tells Lionel that he’s lonely and wants to live where other creatures like him are. Together, and picking up Lionel’s old colleague, Adelina (Zoe Saldana) they journey across the world to the Himalayas to find Shangri La, a fabled city of yetis.
As with all of Laika’s previous films, the stop-motion animation here is a sight to behold. Every movement is so fluid and every character’s expressions are so rich it’s easy to forget we’re watching photographed puppets. Susan especially feels so authentic and unique, from his shape and size to the way his arms swing. The team at Laika are masters of their craft and it shines in every frame. Stay during the credits for an amazing behind-the-scenes look at that beautiful scene with the elephant. My son saw it and literally said, “Wow!”
There are two main lessons in Missing Link that I rarely see in movies aimed at children. First, is the sad realization that not everyone is going to like you/want to be your friend/want you around. This comes up right away with Lionel, and sadly later with Susan. In real life, it can be a difficult pill for a kid to swallow, and like Lionel, kids might go about trying to win the haters over. However the second lesson helps deter from that: You don’t need to seek out validation. Simply knowing your own worth is gratifying and no one else needs to tell you so. I love the way Susan, Lionel and Adelina come to terms with themselves and allow themselves to be happy and free.
“You are a great man, but I deserve greater.”