Missing Link, the latest film from stop-motion animation powerhouse Laika studios, is a globetrotting adventure featuring the most unexpected duo. Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman) is an adventure seeking playboy who is bored by the ordinary. He has wasted his family’s inheritance, and risked the life of himself and others, searching for mythical creatures.
Driven by ego, Frost wants nothing more than to be acknowledge by his peers at the prestigious Optimates Club; an exclusive group where fellow explorers regale each other with stories of their travels and discoveries. Seen as nothing more than a joke by Lord Piggot-Dunceb (Stephen Fry), who has the most clout in the club, Frost hopes that his newest quest will be his ticket to respectability.
Receiving a letter about the existence of a sasquatch, Frost bets Lord Piggot-Dunceb that he can bring back evidence of the missing link in exchange for Opitmates Club membership. Things take and unexpected turn when Frost discovers that it was the legendary creature himself, Mr. Link (Zach Galifianakis), who wrote the letter. Tired of being alone, Mr. Link wants Frost to help get him to the Himalayas where the Yetis, who are the cousins of the bigfoots, have set up a society of their own. Agreeing to give Frost the proof he needs, the pair set off to find a map to Shangri-La that is currently in the possession of Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana), a widow who also happens to be Frost’s former flame.
Although attempting to get Mr. Link to blend into regular society poses its own problems, the pair’s journey is further complicated by a ruthless tracker named Willard Stenk (Timothy Olyphant). Hired by Lord Piggot-Dunceb to ensure that Frost does not win the bet, Stenk will stop at nothing to ensure that he completes his mission.
As with all Laika productions, the animation work in Missing Link is outstanding. Everything from the character designs to the world building effectively brings the story to life. While the film is not as strong as director Chris Butler’s previous work ParaNorman, there is plenty here to enjoy.
Though younger audiences will revel in the film’s themes of friendship the most, Butler manages to slip in social commentary that speaks to adults as well. It is through characters like Mr. Link and Lord Piggot-Dunceb that Missing Link skillfully touches on issues such as man’s treatment of the environment, racism, the fear of social change, and the empowerment of women. Despite these adult themes the film ultimately keeps the tone light throughout.
Lacking the depth of Laika’s best works, Missing Link is a charming romp that shows that friendship, and not praise, is what truly matters in life.