The newest gorgeously animated feature from groundbreaking Laika (BoxTrolls, Kubo and the Two Strings) arrives in theatres this weekend, to tell a tall tale about a lonely sasquatch and the intrepid explorer who befriends him.
But should you take your kids to see it?
As parents and film fans, we want to share the best of the cinematic world with our kids. But when you haven’t seen a new movie yet, how do you know if you should take your kids? Obviously every kid is different, and they change with age; the same child who had to be escorted, weeping, out of Guardians of the Galaxy might completely fall in love with Deadpool two years later (true story). But it’s also true that movie marketing can be misleading – no-one wants to be that mom who had to leave Pan’s Labyrinth with an emotionally-scarred 10-year-old. With this ongoing feature, we’ll aim to offer some loose, spoiler-free, age-by-age guidelines as to what parents might expect from new features marketed to families, so you can make the best judgment call for your youngsters.
The family-friendly film follows adventurer Sir Lionel Frost (voiced by Hugh Jackman) as he seeks a discovery that will allow him entry into an elite club of explorers. A mysterious letter leads him to a sasquatch living in the Pacific Northwest, whom he dubs Mr. Link (voiced by Zach Galifianakis).
Mr. Link is the last of his kind in North America, and is tired of living a lonely life; he recruits Sir Lionel to escort him to the Himalayas, where he hopes to find Shangri-La, the legendary home of his yeti cousins. Along the way an old friend of Sir Lionel’s, Adelina Fortnight (voiced by Zoe Saldana), who happens to have the only known map to the secret destination, joins their quest; and they encounter dangers, enemies, and unexpected friendship on their journey.
It’s a cute film, lovely to look at, with a nice point of view around found family and true friendship. Galifianakis seems to be having the most fun, as Mr. Link is completely literal and doesn’t understand idioms or turns of phrase. Jackman and Saldana get to play their characters a little more broadly, but still with plenty of feeling and heart. (For more details, read Victor Stiff’s full review here.)
So, should you take your kids to see it?
This film is perfect for the younger set. The plot unfolds at a leisurely pace, but there are quite a few exciting action sequences, and humour too. The bigger themes of family, friendship, and belonging might fly over smaller heads, and they might start to fidget when the action wanes between the more thrilling sequences, but overall this is a likeable story that’s well told.
Tweens and Teens
Honestly, unless your older kid is really into animation and appreciates the skill required to execute the level of detail on screen, they might find this a bit boring. The more cynical among teens might even point out, with an eyeroll, the suspension of disbelief required to fall into a story in which the sasquatch speaks perfect English.
If you enjoy stop-motion animation, this will be a can’t-miss for you. There’s a visual feast in every frame, as we’ve come to expect from Laika; and the plot and dialogue have a few humourous jabs at stodgy cultural beliefs of the time that are surprisingly still prevalent today, providing a nice undercurrent of sophisticated humour to balance out the slapstick.
Wee time: Anytime, really, just be in your seats for the triumphant ending!
Bottom line: It’s cute and well worth seeing on the big screen if you’re a fan of stop-motion animation, or if you crave a family-friendly movie to take younger kids to that doesn’t involve superheroes.
Jenny Bullough is a movie fan and mom based in Toronto. She has missed the middle 5 minutes of every kids’ movie because of her kid’s small bladder, and she let her kids watch Deadpool at an inappropriately young age and stands by her choices.