Based on the children’s book by Lois Lowry, ‘The Willoughbys‘ is a computer-animated children’s’ movie directed by Kris Pearn, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Mark Stanleigh. The film was made by Bron Animation and released widely on Netflix.
Narrated by a neighborhood Cat (Ricky Gervais), he tells the story of the Willoughbys. Their family has been a great one with epic mustaches until the current parents Walter (Martin Short) and Helga (Jane Krakowski). They are incredibly selfish, to the point where they ignore their four children, even disregarding pleas for food. Their four children are the practical eldest Tim (Will Forte), the fun-loving Jane (Alessia Cara), and twins who are both named Barnaby (Seán Cullen). When a baby they name Ruth is abandoned at their doorstep, the parents insist on getting rid of it, so they follow a rainbow to a candy factory where they leave it in the care of the eccentric owner Commander Melanoff (Terry Crews). They then devise a plan to send their parents on a vacation to pretend to be orphaned and while it succeeds, the parents hire Laura the Nanny (Maya Rudolph) who wins the heart of Jane and the twins, but Tim remains suspicious.
This movie is pretty good. It is nothing mind-blowing or hair-raising, but I did find it enjoyable and entertaining. The format is very episodic, so that did make the pace shift a few times from fast to slow. However, it did have plot elements that kept the movie flowing, especially in regard to the development of the story. All of the characters, even the awful parents, have really good arcs that produce several moments of laughter.
Bron Animation should be applauded for making their style. The YouTuber Saberspark noted that this movie does have its own signature and avoids mimicking Pixar or Illumination in regards to the CGI animation. Like I said, there was nothing hair-raising, but it is was refreshing to see an animation studio put effort into their own style and it pays off.
As for the voice-acting, the entire cast brings their A-game. It is truly what they call an ensemble cast, with each actor and actress being allowed to do what they do best. Ricky Gervais’ cynical brand is perfect as the Cat while Terry Crews’ high-energy matches the eccentric nature of Melanoff, plus Alessia Cara’s vocal talents as a singer match her role as well.
It is also refreshing to see something on Netflix that does not have profanities every sentence or random adult content for no reason. Instead, this is an excellent and enjoyable family film where parents can enjoy the quirky humor, but kids can get lots of laughs from the on-screen antics.
Bottom line, The Willoughbys is a well-animated, well-acted family-friendly movie that, while not a game-changer, is something the whole family can enjoy together.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Mild violence, Thematic elements
FAVORITE QUOTE: If you love stories about families that stick together and love each other through thick and thin and it ends happily ever after… this isn’t the film for you, okay?
Check out the trailer below:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my movie reviews of Missing Link and Onward. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.