A father duck most overcome all of his fears in a bid to keep his family happy.
Somewhere along the line some animation studios forgot that family animated films are supposed to be and light and fun. Many of the animated films that we see in cinemas today often make the mistake of trying to put too many ‘life lessons’ into the film and the result are films that not only go right over the head of kids but also trip themselves up as plot and characterisation go by the way side as the ‘points’ are pushed to the front.
Thankfully as far as studios go Illumination has not been one that has taken that path. Instead they have delivered fun films like the Despicable Me franchise and of course one of the biggest hits of 2023 – The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Now they deliver Migration a film that shows the other studios out there that it is possible to deliver a film with some good moral lessons while still keeping everything fun.
Directed by Benjamin Renner (Ernest & Celestine) and Guylo Homsy (Eddie’s Life Coach) the plot for Migration is kept pretty simply. Mack (voiced by Kumail Nanjiani – The Big Sick) is an over-protective duck whose whole life revolves around keeping his family – his wife Pam (Elizabeth Banks – The Hunger Games) and children Dax (Caspar Jennings – Sing) and Gwen (newcomer Tresi Gazal) – safe by making sure they never leave the pond.
However tensions amongst the family unit rise when a flock of docks momentary rest on the pond while on migration – during which time Dax meets Kim (Isabela Merced – Dora And The Lost City Of Gold) who encourages him to join her on her journey. When Mack flat out says no Pam points out that she too is bored by life on the pond and the fact that Mack will never take a risk.
Determined to keep his family happy Mack reluctantly decides that they will migrate, along with Uncle Dan (Danny DeVito – Batman Returns), and soon they find themselves on a journey that will put them at risk of being eaten by herons or chefs.
What makes Migration work so well is the screenplay, which was written by Mike White (School Of Rock), allows the film to have just the right mix of heart and comedy. While the film does contain some moral lessons around family and be willing to take risks it still has great characterisation and a story that flows quite well.
The film is made up of structured acts and the ones depicting the terrifyingly creepy herons and a street tough pigeon (voiced by Awkwafina – The Little Mermaid) will have you laughing out loud as they are brilliantly written with comedy gold.
Having said that though there are issues at times with the screenplay. For starters characters like Uncle Dan and Kim are under-used and for a character that is so important to the actual storyline it feels weird that Kim disappears for as long as she does. Given that she is also voiced by such a popular actress you have to wonder why the decision to cut her out of the film was made for so long.
The other strong point of the film is the voice casting. Kumail Nanjiani and Elizabeth Banks are faultless as the devout parents while both Caspar Jennings and Tresi Gazal are complete show stealers despite how natural they are with their voice acting. Despite how good they are though even they are overshadowed by the performance of Awkwafina who once again brings a character of the avian variety to life with hilarious results. Her’s and Danny DeVito’s performance are part of the reason why this film has a laugh a minute.
Migration may not be the prefect film but it is a film that will keep audiences of all ages laughing throughout. With great characterisation and a witty screenplay Migration is the perfect holiday film for the whole family.