Though it tends to feel disjointed as a whole, The Willoughbys thrives when it embraces its grim plot and lets mischief reign.
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What are critics saying?
This Netflix film works overtime trying to be flashy without bothering to create characters worth rooting for, and its long run time won’t do bored parents any favors.
The Globe and Mail (Toronto) by Barry Hertz
Parents might get more of a kick out of the voice-casting and darker corners of the story than school-aged children. But Vancouver’s BRON Animation studio provides a strong, often beguiling sense of tyke-hypnotizing flair to the visuals, and the zippy, synthy score by Wes Anderson favourite Mark Mothersbaugh should keep kids bouncing up and down, in a good way.
While The Willoughbys might not boast the slick structure or beating heart of a Pixar animation, there’s enough offbeat charm to make it an easily digestible watch and for any concerned parents, the practice of “orphaning” involves so much work, your kids will likely be scared off.
San Francisco Chronicle by G. Allen Johnson
With a sense of eccentric macabre that recalls Roald Dahl and Charles Addams, The Willoughbys arrives on Netflix with a winning, eclectic energy that should have kids — like the animated moppets in the film — bouncing off the walls. In a good way, of course.
The Willoughbys is different — or, perhaps, just different enough to stand out, as it sends up the vast assortment of kiddie stories about missing, dead, or just plain bad parents, and finds something fresh and funny in the process.
Fans of cynically funny children's entertainment in the vein of Roald Dahl or Lemony Snicket’s Daniel Handler should glean some fun out of the new Netflix animated movie, The Willoughbys, an energetic and semi-imaginative comedy about an appalling family.
Los Angeles Times by Michael Ordona
The film’s bright colors and blaring happy music may not be enough for viewers to overcome the rather unfunny themes of neglect (“Back up the abuse caboose”) routinely excused in more engaging fare.
RogerEbert.com by Monica Castillo
The movie practically sparkles in scenes at Melanoff’s candy factor, where the rainbow motif is woven throughout the space and even onto Melanoff’s commander jacket, which is topped off with candy buttons and cupcakes on his shoulders.
While The Willoughbys might not be very original, its novelty comes through in the delivery and execution, owing to a witty screenplay (by Pearn and Mark Stanleigh) that combines nimble wordplay with highly compressed, well-paced plotting.