Adorably Sardonic: Our Review of ‘The Willoughbys’ on Netflix

Posted in Movies, Netflix, What's Streaming? by - April 22, 2020
Adorably Sardonic: Our Review of ‘The Willoughbys’ on Netflix

At times like these, the importance of family can really come into perspective…

The Willoughbys is one of those delightful surprises that you can cue up on your respective lists that will scratch all itches.  It’s amazing to look at, with just the right blend of kid friendly humor and positive messaging wrapped up in a sardonically funny little package that will make the adults just as happy as the kids.

Convinced they’d be better off raising themselves, the Willoughby children hatch a sneaky plan to send their selfish parents on vacation. The siblings then embark on their own high-flying adventure to find the true meaning of family.

From BRON Animation and Netflix; The Willoughbys is visually arresting, heartfelt entertainment that has a positive message and has just as many softball kid friendly jokes as it does incredibly smart and witty rejoinders.

Based on the book by author Lois Lowry, The Willoughbys allows a story so inherently awful (that we all may be currently wishing for) to be a hell of a lot of fun as both parents and children on lockdown right now.

With a fresh looking CGI style that makes the film look like the lovechild of Laika studios and the Rick & Morty TV show, writer/director Kris Pearn is giving audiences something that is both familiar yet fresh which is hardly an easy feat.  It all moves at a healthy clip with enough visual set pieces that the genre demands but it gives us this story in a very deadpan fashion with such a smart sense of what it is trying to be.  Not necessarily a kid’s movie, not necessarily a movie strictly for adults.  It’s the story of The Willoughbys and it was meant to be enjoyed by all, even with an off the wall flare that is reminiscent of some of the stories of Roald Dahl, the closest thing we could compare this to would be an animated Tim Burton movie that uses every possible color on the known light spectrum.  And when you take that and combine it with the affirming message of the importance of family, it ends up as a beautiful thing that will make you want to hug your loved ones long after the film’s credits roll.

The voice cast in this film actually blends into this movie effortlessly and that’s actually a really GOOD thing.  You don’t get distracted by hearing the likes of Will Forte, Maya Rudolph, Alessia Cara, Sean Cullen, Martin Short & Jane Krakowski as they melt into the story with ease.  The only character that really takes you out of it all is The Cat (voiced by Ricky Gervais) and the narrator for the story that’s exactly what he’s supposed to be doing.

It’s hard to find some family entertainment these days that won’t want to make the parents claw their eyes out of their skulls but The Willoughbys is exactly that.  With some positive life messages, colourful backdrops and set pieces and a story with some drop dead genuinely funny moments in it, this film is the kind of universal entertainment that more should aspire to making it’s not.  It’s hardly perfect…but it accepts that and asks you to go along for the ride anyway.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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