An explorer helps a Sasquatch try to find his brethren in Missing Link. Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman) is an explorer, who specializes in investigating mythical creatures, which results in him being scorned by a society of great men headed by Lord Piggot-Dunceby (Stephen Fry). Desperate to become accepted by the society, Lionel follows a lead to a Sasquatch in Washington. He is surprised to find that the creature, who he nicknames Mr. Link (Zach Galifianakis), is sentient and wants Lionel’s help to find the Yetis in the Himalayas, so he will no longer be alone. With the help his former flame Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana), Lionel and Mr. Link follow a map to the location of the Yeti’s. However, on their trail is the bounty hunter Willard Stenk (Timothy Olyphant), who was sent by Lord Piggot-Dunceby to ensure that Lionel’s unsuccessful in his latest adventure.
Missing Link is the latest stop-motion effort from the Laika animation studio, written and directed by Chris Butler (ParaNorman). The film focuses on the explorer Sir Lionel Frost, who desperately wants to be remember for his efforts finding mythical creatures. A possible big break for Lionel comes when he receives a letter instructing him where to find a Sasquatch, with Lionel making a wager with Lord Piggot-Dunceby to let him into the society if he can bring back proof of the creature’s existence. However, it turns out that the Sasquatch himself wrote the letter and wants Lionel’s help to find more of his kind, using rumours of “Abominable Snowmen” in the Himalayas as a starting off point. This results in Lionel seeking the assistance of his ex Adelina Fortnight, whose late husband created a map to the Yeti’s rumoured location.
Since their debut feature film Coraline a decade ago, Laika animation studios has almost single handily kept the art of stop motion alive. While Laika’s previous films all had a certain darkness to them, I do have to contend that Missing Link is probably the studio’s most kid-oriented film, even though it is still an adventure that would be involved by people of all ages.
At the centre of Missing Link is “Mr. Link,” portrayed by Zach Galifianakis’ voice work as a very lovable buffoon, which plays well off Hugh Jackman’s suave British explorer. The interactions between the two almost makes the film a buddy comedy, with the added element of Zoe Saldana as Adelina Fortnight, who would just as much kill Lionel than help him. Adding stakes to the story of the dual antagonists of Stephen Fry’s pompous Lord Piggot-Dunceby, always followed by his right hand man Mr. Collick (Matt Lucas), and the very trigger-happy bounty hunter Willard Stenk, voiced by Timothy Olyphant.
While the best film from Laika remains Coraline, Missing Link is a still a very solid and enjoyable addition to the studio’s filmography and a continued demonstration of how they are the leaders of modern stop motion animation.