It’s gorgeous, it’s funny, and it’s finally here… almost! Coming April 22, Kris Pearn’s The Willoughbys, based on Lois Lowry’s famous kid’s book of the same name, is a colorful, zany take on an age-old problem… what can you do if your parents suck! Our story of deliciously mean parents and their selfish pursuits of all things not nurturing for their kids is narrated by The Cat, voiced by Ricky Gervais with his unique brand of droll aplomb, a perfect bit of casting that reminds us, yes, indeed, any of our cats, if they could talk, would make a damn fine Golden Globes host. After first arranging our deaths.
Longing for a normal family in the face of prolonged parental neglect steeped in utter selfishness and outrageous British accents, the Willoughby children hatch a sneaky, diabolical plan to send their mom and dad on a dangerous, around-the-world adventurous “to die for.” As with all zany, hair-brained animated feature film plans concocted by cute, well-meaning children, this one goes awry. Can a well-intentioned Nanny and the famed confectioner, Commander Melanoff, help the hapless Willoughby children finally find the happy family they so desperately seek? In less than a month, we’ll see!
The design is crisp and sleek; the gags are plentiful, not forced or burdensome, impeccably timed and generous in their use of smashing vehicles. And, the casting is superb; Maya Rudolph should star in everything she doesn’t already star in.
Directed by Pearn (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2), who also wrote the film along with Mark Stanleigh, The Willoughbys stars Will Forte, Maya Rudolph, Alessia Cara, Terry Crews, Martin Short, Jane Krakowski, Séan Cullen and Ricky Gervais.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.