Missing Link is Missing Something

Apparently yeti/sasquatch movies are a thing now. There’s Smallfoot, the upcoming Abominable, and, released this past weekend, Laika’s Missing Link. While potentially too violent for some younger viewers, and too boring for parents, there is a fair amount to like about the film.

What’s it about?

Missing Link follows an explorer, Sir Lionel Frost. He befriends a sasquatch, who he dubs Mr. Link. Mr. Link, aka Susan, is the last of his species. Together, they travel to Himalayas to find his Yeti cousins, stopping of first to steal a map from widowed adventurer Adelina Fortnight, who joins them. The film explores themes of loneliness and inclusion, as Sir Lionel aims to get into an explorer’s club that repeatedly rejects him while helping Susan find his kind.

The Good

Like all Laika films, the animation is gorgeous. If you see Missing Link in theaters, this should be the reason.

There are also a good number of badass women just casually thrown into the film. I always prefer this to one really obvious strong woman trope amongst a sea of men, because good female role models should be treated as a common fixture, not obviously contrived.

Most apparent is Adelina Fortnight, who, while put in the damsel in distress role a couple times, also functions as a rescuer. Despite their romantic history, and flirting throughout the film, Adelina dodges Sir Lionel’s attempted kiss and leaves him and Susan behind, preferring to go off and have her own adventures.

There’s also the old woman who revels to our heroes where the yetis live. Not to mention her granddaughter, who guides them there, as well as to her grandmother with a baby strapped to her back. I loved how casually this was treated- just another mom baby wearing while getting shit done. Also the yeti leader is female, and despite being set in the Victorian era, this is treated as a non-issue.

The overall theme also is a great message for kids, especially as it pertains to Sir Lionel. Sir Lionel attempted multiple times to get into an explorer’s club that repeatedly rejected him. While not addressed head on, these explorers talk about their adventures spreading “civilization” to “savages,” Unlike Sir Lionel, who goes for photographs and poop as evidence of his finds, the club members prefer a head mounted on a wall. Eventually Sir Lionel decides the club is not for him after Adelina helps him realize that societal recognition is not a reason to join up with immoral people who don’t appreciate you.

The Bad

I did not like how the film treated Mr. Link choosing the name Susan as joke because it’s a girls name. Especially since “Mr. Link” (as Sir Lionel dubbed him with no input) never expresses a gender identity (my use of male pronouns mirrors the film’s). In doing so, the film treats gender nonconformity as inherently funny.

The worst part of watching this movie is it’s just straight up boring. While I normally love taking my kids to see movies in the theater, I found myself wishing we’d rented it at home so I could play sudoku on my phone on the sly while we watched it.

The plot is fine, the jokes are fine, but there’s nothing special about this movie. A lot of viewer reviews say there’s not really a plot; I think what they mean is that something about the movie never quite coalesces. That, or they fell asleep, which I almost did. With so many kids movies now that are enjoyable for adults as well, this just seemed like a waste of a movie day.

Caveats

This movie has a fair amount of violence and death- the deaths are all bad guys, but everyone is put in peril. Also there are a lot of poop jokes. While I find poop objectively hilarious, we all reach our limit on the potty humor sometimes.

The Bottom Line

This movie is fine if your kids aren’t sensitive to violent conflict, but you probably don’t want to watch it unless you’re an animation buff. Watch any Pixar movie instead if you want to entertain the whole family.

Missing Link is in theaters now.

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