|Benjamin Renner, Mike White
|Kumail Nanjiani, Elizabeth Banks, Awkwafina, Keegan-Michael Key, David Mitchell, Danny DeVito
|December 26, 2023
Take it with a grain of salt… but my advice to the twenty-something-year-olds of today is to get out there and see the world. There’ll be plenty of time to get married, have kids, and pay back an exorbitant mortgage. You don’t want to be an old geezer looking back with regret at all the fun stuff you never had time for. Do it sooner rather than later – an added benefit being you’ll have some wonderful memories to talk about and carry for majority of your life.
That theme is at the heart of Migration, a new animated feature from French director Benjamin Renner (Ernest & Celestine). The screenplay was crafted by the acclaimed Mike White (Enlightened) but, given other commitments he had in making The White Lotus, the reigns were then handed to Rener and the hardworking artists at Illumination, the production company behind franchises including Despicable Me and Sing.
The story is centred on a family of four Mallards (wild ducks) who live a routine existence in a cosy pond. The dad, Mack (Nanjiani), is a change-hating pessimist who wants his teach his two children about the dangers and harsh realities of the world while the mum, Pam (Banks), is a gentler soul who prefers the softly-softly approach. The kids have an instinctive sense of adventure, but Mack rules the roost. He comfortable with life at their idyllic pond and doesn’t see any reason to take risks and travel beyond it.
That position shifts when a group of fellow ducks drop by for the day while migrating to Jamacia for the winter. Mack finally gives in to family pressure and, joined by their Uncle Dan (DeVito), they set off on a similar adventure. The 90-minute film is structured in a way where they go through a series of funny escapades along the way involving pushy herons, a caged parrot, New York City pigeons, and a villainous human chef.
I enjoyed Migration. The themes are neatly articulated, the story is entertaining, and the characters are cute. There are also some great jokes – my favourite being one birds pooping in the sky as opposed to the ground. Of the cast, Danny DeVito (The War of the Roses) gets plenty of great one-liners as the grumpy uncle, and Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick) impresses as the nervy dad described by his son as being “scared of everything in the world.” Awkwafina (The Farewell) and Carol Kane (Hester Street) also have fun with their supporting roles.
If looking for easy-to-like family entertainment over the Christmas holidays, Migration is a decent choice.