Directed By Benjamin Renner and Guylo Homsy

Starring – Kumail Nanjiani, Elizabeth Banks, Awkwafina

The Plot – Follows a family of mallards who try to convince their overprotective father (Nanjiani) to go on a vacation of a lifetime and attempt to migrate from New England, through New York City, to Jamaica. Along the way, they learn the dangers of venturing outside of their peaceful surroundings, leaving them facing their fears while evading several ferocious adversaries.

Rated PG for action involving peril and mild rude humor

Migration | Official Trailer (youtube.com)


Regardless of Illumination’s quality of storytelling, the animation stylings continue to zero in on the essence of childlike immagination, with rich coloring schemes and thrilling sequences in direction that are such a delight to constantly indulge in. As to where companies like Pixar and Dreamworks depend upon these lifelike illustrations that seamlessly bridge the gap between live action and animated properties, Illumination has always been about the bright and bubbly of fantastical renderings, and considering a majority of the film takes place high above the clouds, the breathtaking imagery articulated in breezy, brisky velocity invites more than a few thrilling sequences for the engagement, which utilize everything about the bird lifestyle that caters itself to the big screen presentation. On top of this, the vocal performances are unsurprisingly effective in garnering these larger than life personalities within these animated characters, with Nanjiani and Awkwafina persevering as the charismatic show-stealers, with their own unique brand of awkward delivery appraising the value in each of their respective character outlines. For Nanjiani, this means emphasizing the anxieties of being a worry wart, as a paranoid father of two who constantly antagonizes their explorative ambitions, with Kumail’s effortless neurosies bringing so much energy and levity to the occasion. Awkwafina, like Nanjiani, doesn’t exactly obscure the familiarity in her vocal capacities, but has found a consistency vocalizing animated characters that feels perfect for her bluntly abrasive deliveries, which, with the balance of highly expressive animated character designs at her disposal, allows her to dig as deep as possible to marry sight and sound accordingly. Lastly, the film fortunately never overstays its welcome in a brief 80 minute run time, with just enough urgency on the emphasis of the narrative to continuously keep it moving at all times, in turn evading the boredom from typical kid movie third acts, where redundancy eventually catches up to the experience.


On the side of diminishing returns, “Migration” benefits greatly from an easily accessible message, but it’s so surface level and shallow in its exploration that it comes with nothing meaningful from the sentiment. The film is very much about exploring your limits and living outside of comfortability, and while this message feels appropriate when utilized in and around the unpredictable dangers of nature, the script essentially does little with it in ways that feel unpredictably conjured, leaving its heartfelt center feeling a bit one-note and one-dimensional, especially while in the confines of an aforementioned limited run time. Beyond this, the humor is once again Illumination’s biggest downfall, with a desire to embrace the annoying and boisterous, instead of clever creativity, which could’ve inscribed a stronger current of interests towards character integrity, the ensemble are instead instructed to deliver lines as loudly and meandering as possible, resulting in one reasonably earned laugh throughout the entirety of the engagement, with many crash landings that bombed harder than nuclear warheads. This is ultimately the biggest difference between the pass and fail of my final grade, especially with “Migration” depending so heavily on the comedic labeling, and with the assembled talent of comedians behind the life of these characters, there’s simply no excuse why the material can’t meet them halfway. It’s also another animated movie with the desire to cram in a weak antagonist, which is unfortunate considering the film’s superior first half instead chose to fly through various adventures, instead of involving one sinister force that steers all of the carnage. So this devilish human character is introduced at around the film’s halfway mark, with little to no backstory of exposition on who he is, beyond being a cook at a restaurant that the mallards invade, and considering so much of the film is plagued by the kind of predictability that keeps it from evading the stink of other inferior Illumination properties, the desire to imbed one of the genre’s oldest cliches pads the minutes in ways that directly cut into the development of the characters and their respective conflicts, with blink and you miss it impact to the integrity of the finished product.

“Migration” takes flight with meaningfully charismatic performances and soaring animation stylings, but quickly decelerates with flatly ineffective humor and a thinly written script that barely has enough gas to reach 80 uninspired minutes. Illumination Studios continues to flock to underwheming efforts during an age when animated films have never dreamed bigger, and though it conveys a very sincere message while exploring the rough and unpredictable elements of nature, the exploration of its heart refuses to dig a little deeper, with Illumination Studios once more ducking potential.

My Grade: 5/10 or D+

2 thoughts on “Migration

  1. Since Phoebe loves ducks, I was eager to watch this eventually! It seems like she will love it since it will be visually appealing but she won’t be able to understand the lack of substance and flat humor. Sounds like I need to just grin and bear it. I’ll wait til it is on Peacock! Thanks for always keeping it real!

  2. Yeah…that’s about what I expected. To its credit, I was slightly interested since this is the first “original” film from Illumination that they’ve done in years and it looked decent enough. But the company rarely makes anything that’s actually decent enough to be worth seeing. I still plan to see it, but it saddens me that this is another film from them that looks like it perpetuates the stereotype that animation is for kids. Great work regardless!

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