Saturday, November 30, 2019

Missing Link: A Review (Review #1311)


As of this writing, science has yet to find the 'missing link' between man and his primate ancestors. Missing Link does not do that either, unless for some reason we are meant to think both Bigfoot and Yeti are said link. Forgettable but pleasant enough for very small children who should find the colors and world travelling of interest, Missing Link is fine enough without being anywhere near great.

Intrepid adventurer Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman) is desperate to join the "Society of Great Men", but his searches for mythological creatures such as the Loch Ness Monster make him a laughingstock in explorer circles. He receives a message from the United States, saying that the writer can lead him to Sasquatch (aka Bigfoot). Travelling there, he finds that the writer IS said Sasquatch, whom Sir Lionel dubs "Mr. Link" (Zach Galifianakis).

Mr. Link is the last of his kind and asks Sir Lionel for help in taking him to Link's cousins, the Yeti in the Himalayas. With Mr. Link as definitive proof that he isn't bonkers, he agrees, but needs the map of his frenemy's widow, fiery Latina Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana) to get him to Shangri-La. Adelina is not about to give him anything, so after some pilfering and with pursuit by rustic hitman Willard Stenk (Timothy Oliphant), Adelina and Lionel join forces.

Lord Piggot-Dunceby (Stephen Fry), who despises Sir Lionel and has hired Stenk to kill him, is enraged that not only has Lionel found a real Sasquatch, but that they are about to find the Yeti. Some kind of chase begins, but the snobbish Yeti are not welcoming to their 'country cousin' and 'redneck'. Ultimately, Sir Lionel finds there are more important things to life than being among not-so-great men. While he joins forces with Mr. Link, who has taken the name of "Susan", Adelina parts their company as friends, each pursuing new adventures.

Image result for missing linkThere isn't that much of a point in Missing Link. At a brisk 94 minutes the film is very light entertainment. There isn't much if any of an actual plot as there is a strange muddle of thoughts running through the film. The idea of proving Sasquatch is real is pretty much forgotten once Mr. Link asks to go to see his cousins. Why Lord Piggot-Dunceby despises Sir Lionel or works to thwart him when Sir Lionel almost always comes across as hopelessly inept is left unexplained.

However, I sense that Missing Link is less interested in a story than in its look, and Missing Link is a film bathed in pleasant images. There is a nice sense of Victorian period piece look to the film, from the opening search for Nessie to the Himalayan realm of the Yeti and the California Fortnight hacienda. The richness in detail of forests and ice palaces to Tibetan huts is extremely impressive and all that makes you forget that there isn't much there.

The film really does best in the lead voices. It's curious that Galafianakis' voice was the only one I recognized despite him not having a distinct voice in the Benedict Cumberbatch mold. He plays Susan/Mr. Link as an innocent, taking all things literally and with sincerity. He's an endearing character that children will giggle at with affection. Jackman's haughty but lovable Sir Lionel is also pleasant, someone who is more a rakish rogue than genuine villain. Saldana's Adelina was 'fiery' but also sensible. "Why am I always dangling?" she shouts at herself, aware of the silliness of it all.

Missing Link is pleasant and harmless. By no means particularly 'good', it does have exceptional animation work and a nice, sweet manner with a positive message about judging others by who they are not what they look like. I imagine small children will like Missing Link; while perhaps parents or adults may find it a bit of a chore the colors and details may be enough to pass the time. 


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