Review: Illumination’s new animated film ‘Migration’ faces turbulence

From left, Pam (Elizabeth Banks), Mack (Kumail Nanjiani) and Dax (Caspar Jennings) in “Migration.” (Courtesy of Illumination Entertainment & Universal Pictures)

In “Migration,” the latest offering from Illumination, the animation powerhouse behind hits like “Despicable Me” and “The Secret Life of Pets,” audiences are taken on a whirlwind adventure through the eyes of a fuddy-duddy father duck named Mack, his spirited wife Pam, and their two ducklings, Dax and Gwen.

Mack, voiced by the talented Kumail Nanjiani, is the epitome of caution and worry, content to live a quiet life by their peaceful pond. However, Pam, brought to life by Elizabeth Banks, is a force of nature, eager to explore the wide world beyond their familiar waters. When she decides it’s time for the family to embark on an adventure, Mack reluctantly follows, and chaos ensues.

Their journey is anything but smooth sailing. From narrowly escaping the clutches of a hungry heron to dodging speeding cars in the bustling streets of New York City, the family encounters one perilous situation after another. Yet, despite the danger, Pam remains undeterred, determined to show her family the wonders of the world beyond their pond.

From left, Gwen (Tresi Gazal), Uncle Dan (Danny DeVito), Mack (Kumail Nanjiani), Pam (Elizabeth Banks) and Dax (Caspar Jennings) in “Migration.” (Courtesy of Illumination Entertainment & Universal Pictures)

As they navigate through various challenges, they also encounter a colorful cast of characters, including a hyperactive parrot voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and a street-smart pigeon played by Awkwafina. These characters add depth and humor to the story, providing moments of levity amidst the chaos.

One of the film’s standout scenes takes place in a high-end Manhattan restaurant, where the family finds themselves face to face with a menacing chef and the prospect of becoming duck à l’orange. It’s a tense moment that highlights the dangers of their journey while also providing some of the film’s funniest moments.

Behind the scenes, the film benefits from the talents of Mike White, known for his work on “School of Rock” and HBO’s “White Lotus,” who penned the script. Co-directors Benjamin Renner and Guylo Homsy bring their expertise to the project, infusing it with energy and creativity.

Four animated birds in Central Park look at something beyond them in surprise.

While “Migration” may lack the subtlety and delicacy of Renner’s previous work, such as the Oscar-nominated “Ernest & Celestine,” it more than makes up for it with its vibrant visuals and action-packed sequences. From the breathtaking landscapes of the countryside to the bustling streets of the city, every frame is bursting with color and life.

Ultimately, “Migration” is a heartwarming tale of family, courage, and the power of stepping outside of your comfort zone. While it may be geared towards younger audiences, its universal themes and engaging storytelling make it a film that viewers of all ages can enjoy. So, buckle up and get ready for a bumpy yet unforgettable ride with Mack, Pam, and their adventurous ducklings.

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