Annapurna Pictures has released the first Missing Link trailer, revealing the latest stop-motion animated film from the prestigious LAIKA Animation Studios. Written and directed by Chris Butler, who previously wrote and helmed LAIKA’s terrific ghost story ParaNorman, this new film revolves around a creature named Mr. Link (Zach Galifianakis) who recruits a fearless explorer (Hugh Jackman) to help him find his long-lost relatives in the fabled valley of Shangri-La. It’s basically a “man meets Bigfoot” story with a cute and humorous twist.
You can’t really go wrong with “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” so right off the bat this trailer is solid, but digging deeper it’s fun to see LAIKA traversing a wholly new genre. Films like Coraline and ParaNorman have a spooky edge to them, The Boxtrolls was surprisingly political, and 2016’s Kubo and the Two Strings was a gorgeous fantasy epic. With Missing Link, however, LAIKA is kind of going to straight to the basics for the very first time, as it appears as though they’re telling a fish-out-of-water story mixed with a buddy comedy. There’s plenty of humor in this debut trailer, and while the film may look more traditional than what we’re used to from LAIKA, that in and of itself makes it unique in their filmography.
But the other side of the coin here is that Kubo and the Two Strings was LAIKA’s lowest grossing film ever with a mere $69 million worldwide, and even their other films can’t hold a candle to the box office heights of more, well, “simple” animated fare. So I’d certainly be interested to know if this more traditional buddy movie direction was a conscious decision in the wake of Kubo, or if the folks at LAIKA just felt like attempting this new genre territory. Either way, they’ve proved their artistry time and again, so I’m looking forward to seeing Missing Link and hope they keep making their beautiful, elegant stop-motion films for years to come.
Check out the Missing Link trailer for yourself below, followed by the first poster. The film also features the voices of Zoe Saldana, Timothy Olyphant, David Wailliams, Emma Thompson, Matt Lucas, Ching Valdes-Aran, Stephen Fry, and Amrita Acharia. Missing Link hits theaters on April 12, 2019.