Taking place in 1886, we meet adventurer Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman). Frosts specialty is the seeking out and proving the existence of modern mythical creatures, which could lead to his dream of being accepted into the Society of Great Men, lead by Lord Piggot-Dunceby (Stephen Fry). To prove himself worthy, Frost makes his next mission to prove the existence of the elusive Sasquatch, after receiving a letter that claims them to be real.
Frost then travels to the Pacific Northwest and soon meets the Sasquatch (Zach Galifianakis), who speaks perfect English and claims to be the one who wrote the letter that lead Frost here. His motivation is to have Frost help him find his relatives, the Yetis, so that he can find a home and not be so lonely anymore. Frost agrees to help, and get assistance from his old lover, Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana), who has a map to the Himalayas, and along the way helps to develop Frost's character.
On their tail, however, is a bounty hunter named Willard Stenk (Timothy Olyphant) who has been recruited by Piggot-Dunceby to seek out to kill Frost to ensure the views of the Society of Great Men go unchallenged. Though Stenk provides a constant threat through the film, a lot of the story is about accepting the "different", and looking past one's pride to see the good in that difference. This is perhaps most well-illustrated by the fact that Mr. Link (as Frost calls him) wants to change his name to Susan.
On the surface, the simple reason he wants to be called Susan is that he remembers coming across an explorer named Susan who didn't freak out when she saw him, and she was therefore admirable enough to name himself after. It's played for laughs, but at the same time, it's LAIKA once again standing up for certain rights - Mr. Link wants to be referred to as a woman. Something similar comes up in 'ParaNorman' when we find out a certain character is gay, and to me, it's clear that LAIKA is a company that tries to do the right thing. They still have some ground to cover, but they do a better job than many.
One thing all of the LAIKA films have had in common up until this point is playing with certain elements of horror. They all have something to fear in them, whether it be having button eyes, zombie attacks, mankind, the list goes on. In fact, "mankind" is a pretty common theme among them, but it's probably nowhere more evident than here. It's not so much about mankind being the hunter, as something like this would usually do, but mankind just being ugly altogether. Nowhere is that more evident than the "Society of Great Men", who are really just a bunch of snobby assholes who want Frost dead just so their conservative views aren't challenged - yeah, LAIKA can get pretty grown up.
Of the collection, I'd have to say that this one is easily the most light-hearted (despite all that was just said) and easiest one to show the kids. LAIKA deals with mature subject matter a bit more to simply dub them as "family movies", but this one is also quite a nice story with a likable, well-developed lead. Somewhere between here and 'Boxtrolls', you have the LAIKA films that the whole family can pretty well watch with no real trouble. The others all have at least a little something that's very disturbing, but the storytelling is always great stuff. It's my humble opinion that LAIKA is easily one of the best animation studios out there, and year by year, they are robbed of a potential Oscar (generally by worthy movies), but it seems to go the way of Ghibli - often nominated, never winning, and even Ghibli got theirs for 'Spirited Away'.
Regardless of awards, as we wrap up LAIKA month, I can fully admit that I would highly recommend any film within the LAIKA animation collection. 'The Corpse Bride', 'Coraline', 'ParaNorman', 'The Boxtrolls', 'Kubo and the Two Strings' and 'Missing Link' are all super high on my list for beautiful animation, wonderful storytelling, and above all else, not treating their youthful audience as a bunch of goofy, mindless kids. There are mature and even frightening themes within their list, and it may interest one to know that 'The Adventures of Mark Twain', whose Devil figure has pretty well become a disturbing meme nowadays, is theirs as well. LAIKA is a great company, not afraid to "go there", and I can't wait to see what they have in store for their next project.
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