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.
We live in a world where we get a ton of deep and thought-provoking movies that force our brains to be in use a lot. This is definitely not a bad thing, though. In fact, my favorite movies of all time are those that are incredibly interesting and require the viewer to analyze everything that they just witnessed such as Hereditary and Midsommar.
But after a while, you may want to just watch a movie that doesn’t require you to do much except for kick back and relax. Sometimes, you just need a movie that is easily digestible and will put a smile on your face while you watch it. Kris Pearn’s The Willoughbys is exactly that type of movie.
It’s a very cute, easy-breezy watch that while incredibly fast-paced and fun to watch, is forgettable in the long run. The biggest issue with the film as a whole is that really not a whole lot happens in this story. Despite the fact that it moves by at a breakneck pace (there’s rarely any boring scenes except for some in the first act), the story is rather dull but it feels so familiar. A large portion of this movie feels remarkably similar to the iconic Addams Family franchise. It’s actually kind of hilarious how similar the two properties are. The families even act rather similar to one another.
There are some really fun ideas at play here. A couple of scenes do try to divert the viewer and it does so fairly well I would say. However, for a film with a running time of ninety-minutes, it should have had some sort of pull. The story here is extremely bland and uninteresting. The main reason why the movie ended up winning me over was the characters and the dynamic between them all, particularly the dynamic between Tim (voice of Will Forte) and their nanny Linda (voice of Maya Rudolph).
Watching them get into a bunch of crazy incidents was a blast, mainly due to how different they are from one another. Tim is a rather hyper, attention-needy kid who can be a bit much to handle. The whole family is, really. Whereas Linda is the exact opposite; a super calm, nice-mannered older woman who is just trying to do her best at being a nanny. The scenes where she has to deal with the children were not only really funny to watch, but also carried a deeply important message, as did the whole film by the end of it.
Another thing that the film has going for it is its animation style. It reminded me a lot of the animation on display in last year’s Klaus in all the best ways. All of it is extremely well detailed and it breathes a great sense of life and vibrancy to the whole world that these characters live in.
So, as a whole, this is a movie that didn’t blow me away by any means. It has a lot of problems, mainly its rather familiar and tired story that doesn’t have anything new to say. But, I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t have a fun time watching the Willoughby family’s mischief. It’s quite funny at times, has brilliant animation and has a touching message about loving your family. All in all, it’s a fun time.
The Willoughbys may not have a great or interesting story, but its excellent animation style mixed with the fun character work save the film from mediocrity.
Overall Grade: B-
MPAA Rating: PG for rude humor and some thematic elements
Directed by: Kris Pearn
Distributed by: Netflix
Release Date: April 22, 2020
Running Time: 92 minutes