There’s No Place Like Home with The Willoughbys … or Not!

null 6By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Available on Netflix

The Willoughbys is a CGI film that doesn’t quite work as a surreal experience like Coraline. It tries, but doesn’t quite nail the fantasy bang-on. It does, however, perfectly hit the various characterizations on the nose. The snobbish bourgeois attitude of the parents is one anyone can easily despise. They are way out there and pay no heed to the children who are left to fend for themselves.

Tim (Will Forte), Jane (Alessia Cara), and twins Barnaby and Barnaby (Seán Cullen) plot to separate from them, but when a very purple toned baby (no reason is given as to why this child is off colour) gets dropped off at their doorstep, all the plans are for naught. The parents hire a nanny, and she gives the kids the love they so need.

Based on Lois Lowry’s 2008 novel of the same name, this latest book to movie adaptation will have its dedicated group of fans. I find it interesting that none of this author’s longer running series is considered and that’s probably because the entertainment scene has far too many series based on a book series running at the same time. Some breathing room is required, and this film is testing the waters of how well received her ideas will get.

With British Columbia-based studio BRON bringing this film to life and Craig Kellman (known for his work in DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar and MGM’s The Addams Family) creating this film’s look, I had to wonder if he borrowed from the prior work to give this film an air of familiarity. The set designs are cartoony. The characters feel like they can fit right in with the world of Henry Selick’s Coraline.

The subplot with Jane wanting to have a life of her own should not be forgotten. This tween won’t get a spin-off anytime soon but I can hope. This film would not work if it was not for Ricky Gervais. He voices the cat and gives the purrfect narration to keep me interested about the Willoughby family’s plight. If it was not for him, I’d most likely give this movie a pass.

3½ Stars out of 5

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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