When it comes to animated ducks, one reigns supreme – no not Count Duckula – it is of course Donald.
He made his debut in 1934 in The Wise Little Hen, and has gone on to become an icon in the animation world.
With animals always proving to be popular characters for the world of animation, Illumination have decided to go duck-centric this time around, following a family of them on the move.
Living on a lovely pond in the quiet of a New England forest are a family of Mallards, Mack (Kumail Nanjiani) and Pam (Elizabeth Banks), their two offspring Gwen (Tresi Gazal) and Dax (Casper Jennings) and Uncle Dan (Danny DeVito).
Mack is very security minded and is happy to tell the youngsters of scary stories of what might happen to them if they venture too far away.
His attitude changes however, when a large flock of birds land in their pond, embarking on their annual migration. Their tales sound exciting to the rest of the family, but not Mack, who even turns down their invite to join them. However, he soon realises it’s an opportunity his family would dearly love, so decides that now is the time to embrace the challenge.
He soon discovers however, that he had every reason to be cautious, as the world is full of peril, as he and his family attempt to make their way to sunnier climes.
Migration is a film that quickly adopts the template of a Flinstones style of family, and the hierarchy that exists. And as its title eludes to, a journey of discovery is to be made. Unfortunately it’s a disappointingly generic one.
Their first stop is, would you believe, NYC. Now considering their gift of flight, it’s tragic that they have to visit possibly the most over-used city ever in film, both live action and animated. Central Park? Really? It just shows how low the bar is on the imagination level. Sadly it gets worse.
They happen upon a parrot, voiced by Keegan-Michael Key, who just so happens to be trapped in a cage by an evil chef. Now can you see where this is going? Again, it’s reminiscent of all those characters, such as Bugs Bunny, that have found themselves in a heated pot at some time, as an ingredient for a stew or such.
So far, it’s all rather animated plot lines 101.
And to make matters worse, ducks from North America don’t go anywhere near Jamaica, the destination in the film, when they migrate.
The story then is woeful, which is hugely surprising considering that the script was written by the brilliant Mike White, the man behind the excellent US show The White Lotus.
It’s a shame because the family unit, lead by Nanjiani, is quite a charming one, developing a nice sense of family between them all.
A highlight, of sorts, is our very own David Mitchell, of Would I Lie to You fame, playing the utterly cheerful GooGoo; it’s a role that sees Mitchell doing some serious acting, whereby he questions nothing and simply enjoys the scenario that he and his fellow birds find themselves in. A role then, that you wouldn’t expect best suited to the actor, but he gives it his best shot regardless.
The animation, coming as it does from the studio behind Despicable me is suitably scenic, but nothing groundbreaking.
It is a film then best suited to a younger audience, who will no doubt accept its many failings, and simply enjoy its tired approach to storytelling.
But in terms of a broader audience, there’s just not enough originality here to make it worth flocking too.