CHRISTIAN LIFE IN LONDON | February 2024 EDITION
Reel Review - Migration
CURRENT COMMUNITY STORIES
February 2024 Prayer Prompt
AMEN TO GENEROSITY & SACRIFICE
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National March For Life 2024 - “I Will Never Forget You”
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A Love Like No Other
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The Top 20 Christian Music Albums for February 2024
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Reel Review - Turning Red (MOVIE REVIEW)

Published December 2023


Migration


Rating: PG

Genre: Action/Adventure, Animal, Animation, Comedy, Kids

Directed by: Benjamin Renner, Guylo Homsy

Writers: Benjamin Renner , Mike White

Release Date: December 22, 2023

Runtime: 98 Minutes

Cast: Voices of Kumail Nanjiani as Mack; Elizabeth Banks as Pam; Danny DeVito as Uncle Dan; Caspar Jennings as Dax; Tresi Gazal as Gwen; Keegan-Michael Key as Delroy; Awkwafina as Chump

Review Courtesy: PluggedIn
Reviewer: Bob Hoose



MOVIE REVIEW
You’ve heard the phrase “Home Sweet Home.” Well, Mack the Mallard loves that one. But if he were able to hang a sign inside the hollowed-out tree that he and his family live in, it would read, “Home Safe Home.” Because that tree and its little adjoining pond are both sweet andsafe—just the way Mack wants it for his growing family.

Sure, when the seasons change, and the snow falls, things can definitely get a tad frigid and require a bit more family huddling for warmth. But hey, a little mud in the tree cracks can cut down on the icy wind. And besides, family closeness is good!

Mack’s wife, Pam, however, isn’t so content with just staying put for another winter. Yes, she loves Mack and their two kids, Dax and Gwen. But she sure wouldn’t mind a little winter migration and adventure. So when a flock of ducks swoops down into the pond on its way to an exotic place called Jamaica, well, Pam and the kids are beside themselves with excitement over the idea of joining them on their journey.

Mack isn’t so easily swayed though. He warns about dangers beyond the pond. In fact, he’s famous for telling Dax and Gwen scary stories about unfortunate ducks that leave their home for “adventure.” He declares that fear is good. I mean, it keeps you safe! Forever!!

Pam suggests, however, that what she wants isn’t really about migration. Instead, she wants to see what else life has to offer beyond the family’s safe little pond. “You really need to open your eyes Mack, before you miss it all.”

That kernel of wisdom gives Mack pause.

Then Uncle Dan chimes in, telling Mack that if he sticks to his don’t-leave-the-pond guns he’ll end up just like him: “healthy, happy … and alone!” And that does the trick.

Mack boldly proclaims that the Mallard family is going to migrate. And for the first few minutes after they take off, it’s all kinda great.

Then, the real adventure … begins.

POSITIVE ELEMENTS
Migration is about a family of ducks, but their interactions and inevitable conflicts will all feel very recognizable to human families. These anthropomorphized birds encounter parent/child tensions, sibling rivalry and angry adolescent behavior. But the whole Mallard family always comes back to the center point of loving and supporting one another.

The kids are given an important responsibility by their journey’s end. The usually fearful Mack is praised for his brave choices (when he steps up to protect his family and rescue others in the face of great danger). And Mack thanks Pam for all the ways she consistently stood by him and opened his eyes to a vital new perspective on life. The family members hug one another in both good and bad times. Even grumpy old Uncle Dan gets in on the positive family vibes.

Throughout the story, the Mallards put themselves on the line to help others. And in doing so they become friends with a wide variety of characters, even those they were once at odds with. Several of those other characters play important roles in helping the mallards keep their migration plans on track.

SPIRITUAL ELEMENTS
Ducks on a farm do yoga together and have a leader who looks and sounds a bit like a spiritual guru. A still animated image in the credits pictures a Mayan pyramid.

And while there are no direct spiritual references made in the story itself, you could easily talk about how Hebrews 13:16 and John 15:13 are illustrated by the Mallard’s actions.

SEXUAL CONTENT
Early on, Dax meets a female duck from another flock and is quite taken with her. But when she flies off, young Gwen tells her brother, “I’m so sorry you can’t have babies with her.” They meet the same duck later, and Gwen tells her, “Dax talks about you in his sleep.”

VIOLENT CONTENT
Early on, Mack tells his family a story of bored ducks leaving the nest and being killed by predators. And even though we don’t see any bloody endings, Pam interrupts to ask Mack to be more careful with his stories. “Every time you tell a story, Gwen wets her twigs,” she says.

And indeed, when the Mallards leave the protection of their nest, they do encounter predators and danger. A huge storm leaves them huddled together under a decrepit dock, for instance. Uncle Dan grumbles, “We’re not gonna make it are we?”

Soon after that, they meet an old Heron couple, mortal enemies of Mallards in the animal kingdom. And after the family is seemingly captured by them, there’s a series of running gags about the many ways that the desperate ducks might become the heron’s next meal. (It turns out the herons are actually friendly, but a few mildly suspenseful scenes involving these birds could be frightening to young or sensitive viewers.)

The family also tumbles accidentally into a human city filled with speeding vehicles and huge obstructions. Uncle Dan finds a discarded sandwich and is immediately swarmed by gangster pigeons. One of the city pigeons is missing a foot.

In order to continue on their way, they must also face off with a human chef: “A predator that, instead of eating you, feeds you to a group of much larger predators,” the ducks are told ominously.

This chef doesn’t say much, but he is a constant threat with knives waving. His specialty is duck à l’orange. The Mallards see a golden roasted, finished dish. And they struggle to free the many ducks that the chef plans on preparing. They also encounter bursts of flames, thrown knives and the stomping feet of scores of humans on a dance floor.

In the course of this quest, our flying heroes get thumped around and caged; they have feathers plucked; and they are indeed threatened at many twists and turns. Two characters fall out of a helicopter while locked in a cage. The birds also fight back, hitting the chef with fruit and gourds and by biting his nose. He ends up dangling in a net beneath the helicopter himself as well.

One bird gets hit by several speeding vehicles (coming away dazed, but intact). Uncle Dan crashes to the ground a few times. And Mack is quick to say, “Well, he had a good life,” before being slapped by Pam and told to go help.

CRUDE OR PROFANE LANGUAGE
There are a couple exclamations of “oh my gosh” in the dialogue along with one use of “heck.”

DRUG AND ALCOHOL CONTENT
None.

OTHER NEGATIVE ELEMENTS
We hear a tiny bit of potty humor in the story mix. For instance, while flying South, Gwen forces her family to land so that she can go to the bathroom in a bush. Her mom complains, “You’re old enough to do it in the sky now!”

And Mack has some stern words for his disobedient son, yelling at him, “I don’t need you to help, Dax. I need you to do what I say! Do you understand?” Dax storms away in his anger. (Later though, they both apologize and make up for their angry reactions.)

CONCLUSION
When the holidays roll around, and the kids are all on Christmas break, many a parent will be thinking about some out-of-the-house entertainment. And the local movie theater will be on that shortlist.

But what to watch?

You don’t want anything too racy, too obnoxious, too packed with agenda-driven messages at odds with your worldview. The average parents just want something fun and innocent. It should be colorful enough and short enough to keep everybody’s interest. And maybe offer a cute laugh or two between fistfuls of popcorn.

Illumination Entertainment, the production house behind those yellow, twinkie-looking guys called Minions, believes it has your holiday ticket. And you know what? It might be right.

Migration delivers a colorful animated romp. It swoops in with a little raucous peril and kid-attention-grabbing action, applauding themes like stepping outside your comfort zones, loving your family and helping others. In fact, this pic suggests to young viewers that they are and should be an important part of their family dynamic.

I won’t say that this is the best kids’ film ever made. But it’s sweet, fast paced and family focused. And there aren’t any major bird droppings you’ll need to avoid.

Hey, if you go hit a matinee, you could even land some holiday outing fun, uh, on the cheep.

(Note: Most moviegoers will also see a Minion-themed short called Mooned that plays before Migration. This short contains two exclamations of “oh poop,” a reference to alcohol, comic violence and a dash of toilet humor.)

REVIEWED BY BY BOB HOOSE
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.






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