In Migration, a timid mallard duck who sounds a lot like Kumail Nanjiani leads his family on a reluctant adventure to Jamaica so his son can hook up with a bird he met for two minutes, resulting in random hijinks and moderate entertainment value. By no means an animated classic by parental measures, it still manages to get off the ground–and for children, take full flight.
My 5-year-old was enraptured by the animated family flick, which also features the voices of Elizabeth Banks, Isabela Merced, Awkwafina, Keegan-Michael Key, Carol Kane, and Danny DeVito. Migration boasts a cast of funny and ridiculous creatures and characters, lots of silly situations, and other little details designed to amuse kids. There are no deep themes at play here–nothing particularly deep at all–but that’s okay. Creatures include a pair of kooky and potentially lethal herons (my kid found them a little scary), a maniacal chef who loves to cook birds, and a semi-deranged pigeon.
Migration comes from the mind of co-director Benjamin Renner, who made the excellent Ernest & Celestine a decade ago, and writer Mike White (School of Rock, The White Lotus, and of course the Oscar-winning The Emoji Movie, and you’re welcome for reminding you that that pile of poo exists). The pairing is a good one, though the movie feels more like a run-of-the-mill effort than anything special or exceptional.
The movie also comes on the heels of the release of Netflix’s Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget, which is goofier, cleverer, and more uniquely animated. Why do I bring up Chicken Run? Well, both movies involve parents who are forced out of their comfort zone to rescue or appease their antsy children, and ultimately end up in a “paradise” where birds are fattened up in preparation for slaughter. Migration has plenty of differences, too, but having just watched Dawn of the Nugget, I did feel I was watching a lesser version of the same movie at times.
Ultimately, though, who cares? Kids will love it, parents will find it entertaining, and that’s enough. Migration may not soar to new heights, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then, as the saying goes, you have a winning formula at hand. That’s how the saying goes, right?
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.