The darkly humorous Netflix animated comedy is based on a children’s book by Lois Lowry WILLOUGHBY FAMILY about two true raven parents and their children fighting for freedom. We reveal in our review how convincing this is.
But every now and then the sadness also dominates the events.
When the Willoughby children first develop protective instincts because of a foundling and later they get the chance to have a loving environment thanks to an (excited) caring nanny, but criminally misunderstand all of the nanny’s possible efforts, this component of the film becomes increasingly stronger in the foreground: “The Willoughby Family” is primarily a strange animated comedy until the end, but gradually an episodic mix of cartoon slapstick and black humor turns into a heartfelt story about what it’s like to break away from a toxic family network to free.
“This unpredictability not only provides great potential for fun, but also paints a plausible, touching picture of the consequences of a broken, harmful family dynamic.”
But what gets lost to some extent over the duration of the film is the subversive streak that it shows so clearly at the beginning: the gags become more harmless and the course of a comedic or cartoony-action-packed set piece becomes easier to predict from time to time – which is why The circle closes: Neither author/director Pearn nor his writing partner Mark Stanleigh are Lord & Miller, who were responsible for the first, consistently weirder and more subversive “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”.
Conclusion: “The Willoughby Family” is an aesthetically original, witty animated film about children who free themselves from a broken family network. It’s fast-paced throughout, but unfortunately becomes a bit conventional towards the end.
“The Willoughby Family” is now available to stream on Netflix.