Laika, the stop-motion animation studio behind such modern wonders as Coraline (2009) and Kubo and the Two Strings (2016), delivers another winner in this hilarious globe-trotting adventure with a giant heart.
Set sometime around 1900, the film follows Englishman Lionel Frost (voiced by Hugh Jackman), a respect-seeking investigator of mythical creatures, who receives a letter proclaiming evidence of a sasquatch in the forests of North America. Frost travels there and discovers that the softly spoken, somewhat awkward creature (voiced by Zach Galifianakis) penned the letter himself, and needs Frost's help to get to his yeti "cousins" in the Himalayas.
Stop-motion animation (often referred to as claymation) is the process by which physical objects are painstakingly moved by hand between each frame of film shot. Its tangible charms feel even more special in the digital era, and Laika are one of the world's top two purveyors of the form, alongside the legendary Aardman.
Where many animated films - especially stop-motion - have contained settings and streamlined narratives, this has all the expansiveness of a big-budget live action adventure. There's a wealth of locations (London, the American West, a hidden valley in the Himalayas) and characters, and some pretty darn impressive action. The Loch Ness monster appears in the opening scene.
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Mr Link, as the sasquatch comes to be known, is a hugely appealing comic creation, perhaps best described as landing halfway between Fozzie Bear and Galifianakis' established persona. He's the physical embodiment of the film's big-hearted attitude.
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, Emma Thompson, Zach Galifianakis
Director: Chris Butler
Running time: 94 mins
Rating: PG (Violence)
Verdict: A funny, charming and heartfelt story elevated by the unique pleasures of stop-motion animation.