Netflix really has a wide range of original films on their platform when they entered the streaming service in 2013. They also have a wide range of animated movies as well though all of them have had varying degrees of success. Some of the animated movies they ended up distributing were initially scheduled for theaters which included the abysmal "Gnome Alone" and "Duck Duck Goose" though last year, they launched themselves into making original animated movies with "Klaus" which was a huge hit. The film ended up getting big streaming numbers and won lots of audience's hearts including mine. This meant that attention was gonna be on their follow up film, "The Willoughbys". Fortunately, though, it's yet another really good animated movie from the company. It may not be as amazing as "Klaus", but it's still really good and definitely a film to check out. Our story begins when a cat (Ricky Gervais), narrates the story of the Willoughby family. This family was once a proud family that sported boasting mustaches, but as time went on, they became very dysfunctional. The children, Tim (John Forte), Jane (Alessia Cara), and the twins both named Barnaby (Seán Cullen) are mistreated by their awful father (Martin Short) and mother (Jane Krakowski) do not seem to care about their children, but rather themselves. Frustrated by their parents and wanting a better life, the children hitch a plan to send their parents on an exotic yet deadly vacation that ensures the children become orphans so they can have a better life. Their plan is successful, yet things don't go according to plan as their parents hired a nanny (Maya Rudolph) to look after them while their away. However, the nanny is kinder and sweeter than their awful parents and the children seem to like her, save for Tim who feels that she's in cahoots with their parents. From then on out, wild shenanigans ensue that I dare not spoil. I was surprised by how much I like this film because there were a few things about it that did make me worried. For one, it was made by the same studio who made last year's "The Addams Family" which ended up really disappointing me as well as from director Kris Pearn who made "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2", a sequel that just didn't have the magic that Lord and Miller put into the first film. The good news is that this film ended up being a genuine pleaser and one that I feel has a lot of enjoyment in it for anyone. I haven't read the book this was based on by Lois Lowry, but I can tell there is a lot of imagination in this film. It reminded me a lot at times of Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" which ironically Netflix had made into a live-action TV series a few years back. It has dark-humored moments, but they're the kind that children and adults will get a kick out of. It has a lot of crazy shenanigans and hilarious humor which results in a film that doesn't get dull throughout. It's a story where you don't know what'll happen and I did highly appreciate the message this film had. Without spoiling it, I can really see this message helping a lot of children because it can really connect with them. As far as the animation goes, it's amazing. I love how stylized this computer animation was and how creative and eye-opening the world is. There are details in this animation that I simply adored like how the Willoughby children's hair looked like it was made of yarn, the buildings and settings looking like a pop-up book and crafted from paper, and even the clouds and smoke looking like cotton. Details like that are why I think the stylized animation works in favor of this film since it's implied it's supposed to be like a classic story of sorts. As far as the characters go, I really enjoyed them. I did find Tim a satisfying protagonist. At times he can come off as overly confident and sometimes stubborn, I do like he still is a kid at heart and does care about his brothers and sister. Jane is a fun character as well with pop star Alessia Cara turning in a decent performance which I initially feared could've been bad. She has some fun moments and I do like her passion and optimism though I do wish the filmmakers didn't autotune her singing as it has been proven that Cara can in fact sing. The Barnaby twins were my favorite though. They had so many funny moments and just came off as so cooky and out of control they really made for entertaining characters. Even the nanny was sweet enough and the awful parents were perfectly one dimensional which I think really works for this story. As far as problems go, one is that I feel that the character of Commander Melanoff (Terry Crews) could've been expanded. It's implied he would be a huge part of the story, but he was barely in the film so it made it hard to relate. I also feel that part of the ending could've been trimmed off. It went on far too long and I do feel it dragged at times. Still though, that's about it. I think "The Willoughbys" is a very fun animated film. The story is clever and creative, the animation amazing with how stylized it looks, and the characters are sweet and memorable. This is a really fun animated film that I recommend checking out. It's a good film to watch with the family or even without them depending on your preference. Still though, I think it's a fun animated movie to watch that is certainly worth your time.
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