The Willoughbys

The Willoughbys ★★★½

It’s remarkable witnessing this new trend in the animation industry; where filmmakers are taking daring risks and chances in both stylization and story in order for their features to stand out in the very oversaturated market, and Kris Pearn’s The Willoughbys succeeds at both. For starters, one of the film’s most inviting strengths is its aesthetic where it breathes similarly to a stop motion feature. I assure you it’s 100% computer-animated, but every single motion from the characters and environments moves at a slower frame rate that it sort of mimics the atmosphere of a stop motion movie. Even when comedic moments move at a fast pace, it never hits the standard 24fps. It gives the movie it’s own unique flair that perfectly works in its favor. Similar to how Into the Spider-Verse was made to capture the essence of how a comic book would come to life, The Willoughbys does just that but instead to capture the atmosphere of a storybook.

Ever since 2018’s Next Gen, Netflix has caught my eye as a new competitor in feature animation. Then last year, they took that to the next level with the French film I Lost My Body – but for me personally, it was Sergio Pablos’ magnum opus, Klaus. It took the animation industry by storm last year even going on to win Best Animated Feature at the Annie Awards. It was undoubtedly the best-animated feature of 2019 and Netflix’s final marker to express that they are a new formidable foe to all of the other animation studios. Part of what I love about Netflix Animation’s model is that it allows filmmakers to tell their stories and in their own stylized form that no other major production studio would tackle. Now their streak of stylized animated features continues with The Willoughbys, another feature that proves that Netflix Animation isn’t here to play – they’re here to stay.

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