“The Willoughbys:” wonderfully distracting

★★★★☆

Photo credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a0/The_Willoughbys_Theatrical_release_poster.jpg

By Victoria Wittenberg, Staff Reporter

The monotony of staying home all day every day is certainly upsetting, but in the midst of our binge eating and boredom, Netflix is here to keep us temporarily distracted. For an hour and thirty minutes, “The Willoughbys” allows you to immerse yourself in a world that is not this one. Especially for those of us with younger family members in the house, “The Willoughbys” was an utterly refreshing and colorful break from reality.

All told from the rich point of view of their cat (Ricky Gervais), this cinematic story depicts the narrative of Tim, Jane, and the twins, Barnaby and Barnaby Willoughby (Will Forte, Alessia Cara, and Sean Cullen). These four siblings trying to rid themselves of their neglectful and laughably idiotic parents, and after finding a seemingly perfect home, they hatch a plan to orphan themselves by sending their parents on a deadly vacation. With the much-needed guidance of their new, quirky and loving nanny (Maya Rudolph), as well as baby Ruth and her new dad (Terry Crews), they make the perfect makeshift family. 

Based on a dark-humored children’s novel by Lois Lowry, “The Willoughbys” captures the essence of the book to a T. The movie takes so much inspiration from books, or more specifically the love for books in younger children. Somehow, “The Willoughbys” juxtaposed kids who grew up on books and kids who grew up on technology. Despite being set in modern-day, the Willoughbys are a very “old fashioned family,never having even seen a cellphone or television. It’s compelling to see the way their love for reading influenced their perceptions. Even the animation resembles that of a pop-up book, using minimal textures like wood, paper and yarn. The whimsical design, with its unconventional colors and shapes, looks like it was ripped right from a children’s bookshelf.

Upon reaching the end credits, a few things stood out to me about the movie. The first was Tim’s character arc. His journey is both unique and relatable, whilst still being funny and lighthearted. While I’d recommend the movie on that credential alone, it was definitely interesting to see big names like Alessia Cara and Ricki Gervais in a single kid’s movie. The cast really slipped into their roles seamlessly. 

My only critique is the antagonists’ story. They lack every bit of background and complexity that I found so entertaining in the main characters. That being said, it’s a wonderful way to spend some of the time left on our hands these days and I trust your family will enjoy it as much as mine did.