Image Courtesy of Netflix

Film Review: The Willoughbys

01:00 June 20, 2020
By: David Vicari

Now streaming on Netflix is the new computer-animated film The Willoughbys, based on the satirical book by Lois Lowry. The Willoughby children—Tim (voice of Will Forte), Jane (voice of Alessia Cara), and the twins, both named Barnaby (voice of Seán Cullen)—are fitted with the absolutely worst, most self-centered parents ever (voiced by Jane Krakowski and Martin Short). The children come up with a plan to orphan themselves by sending their rich idiot parents on vacation to perilous places where something terrible might befall them. However, Mom and Dad are one step ahead and hire an untrained nanny (Maya Rudolph) to watch after the kids. Also thrown into the mix is a reclusive candymaker (Terry Crews), an orphaned baby named Ruth (Brian Drummond), and Ricky Gervais as a cat who narrates the story.

There is some clunky storytelling here. Baby Ruth is just a plot device, so we never find out about her origins. Maybe they are saving that for a proposed sequel. Also, some of the very dark humor may be upsetting to some children.

What's good here is the colorful animation, which blends the style of computer-animation with classic stop-motion animation. The stylized look of the characters is fun, and the set pieces, especially the candy factory, are pure wonderment.

No, this isn't a Pixar masterpiece, but The Willoughbys is a charming little movie about finding your true family.

*** Stars (Out of Four)

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