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Film: Migration
Cast(voices): Kumail Nanjiani, Elizabeth Banks, Caspar Jennings, Tresi Gazal, Awkwafina, Carol Kane, Keegan-Michael Key, Danny DeVito
Director: Benjamin Renner
Rating: 3/5
Runtime: 82 mins

This animated effort by Illumination, the studio behind the “Despicable Me” and “Minions” franchises, as well as “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” is distinctive because it doesn’t have any minions in it and attempts to fly higher than what the studio has attempted before. But the minions and Vector from ‘Despicable Me’ do find space in the companion short ‘Mooner’ that plays just before ‘Migration’ opens.

You guessed it. The story is about avians (Ducks, to be specific) attempting to migrate to a distant ‘greener’ land. Given the title the storyline is obvious, and its quite formulaic, but the journey was delightfully engaging and has the right ingredients to keep you engrossed all through the short and sweet runtime. There are of course useful lessons to be learned with a neat enough moral to take home. Thinking and Going ‘Out of the box’ is the key here. 

The opening salvo has Mack (Kumail Nanjiani) narrating a chilling story to his ducklings, Dax (Casper Jennings) and Gwen (Tresi Gazal), about the dangers of leaving their nest with positive interjections by his wife Pam (Elizabeth Banks). She counters his scary tales with more encouraging conclusions. Mack’s stories are obviously reminiscent of overly protective parents who believe in heaping on negatives as a cautionary warning to their young ones. The opening sequence itself enraptures you with vivid 2D animation that highlights the exquisite painterly quality of the craft on display.   

Mike White, the writer of ‘The White Lotus’ created this script about a family of mallards who leave their pond to explore the world. After a migrating duck family expresses the adventurous wonders of migration, the Mallard family, hitherto comfortable in their own little world, decides to brave it and embark on a family road trip, via New York City, to tropical Jamaica. White’s screenplay has loads of humour to keep you laughing and entertained. As part of their adventure and linking with Mack’s cautionary tale, the family encounters Erin the heron (Carol Cane) whose intentions are not very clear. We are not sure whether she wants to eat the Mallards for dinner or is she taking hospitality to an oddly frightening level? But it’s definitely a scary Duck out of Water situation for the travelling family and how they eventually clucketty cluck their way out of it, makes for some real laugh-out-loud moments.
The narrative moves at a brisk and happening pace. The introductions are spiffy and the adventures keep coming. By the time Mack, Pam, Gwen, Dax and their Uncle Dan (Danny DeVito) find themselves lost in the middle of New York City, where they encounter a gang of pigeons led by Chump (Awkwafina) who apparently knows a Jamaican parrot named Delroy (Keegan-Michael Key) who can help them find their way down South, we’re already three-fourths into the movie.

The mix of 2D and 3D animation is superbly executed. The 3D work has tremendous purchase too. The depth ( kind of rare for an animation movie) is startling with frequent in-your-face moments. Some characters like the heron are two-dimensional portraits while others like the Mallards are 3D. The surrounding scenery/ backdrops have the look of expertly rendered watercolor paintings. The vivid use of colors and the superb quality of the illustrations make the visuals eye-pleasing.This is the best example of an artistically rendered, fun-loving family film you can find in the theaters.

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