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The Movie Guru

Jan 09, 2024 10:10AM ● By Jenniffer Wardell

Migration (in theaters)

These ducks are a delight. 

Illumination’s first film since 2016 that isn’t a sequel or tied to an existing IP, “Migration” was definitely worth the wait. It’s the kind of warm-hearted family fun that made us fall in love with the studio in the first place, with a much more solid, engaging plot than 2016’s “Sing” and more complex humor than the Minions. Even better, it’s grounded in real emotions that will touch your heart no matter how old you are.

The movie focuses on a duck family trying to convince their dad to go on migration. The dad’s worried about how dangerous it could be, but his wife and kids convince him and they set off. Of course, that’s when everything starts to go wrong. 

The story will be immediately relatable to anyone who’s gone on vacation with their family, with generally much more entertaining jokes than we see in the trailers. The family dynamics are also genuinely touching, with everyone clearly loving each other no matter how much they squabble. It also helps the emotional lessons, and the triumphant family moments, hit much more powerfully. 

It also offers an important lesson for those of us in the audience to take away. These days it seems like everything is pretty scary, and it can be tempting to keep your world as small as possible in an attempt not to worry. But if ducks can risk venturing out into the unknown, maybe we can, too.

Grade: Three and a half stars

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget (Netflix) 

Most sequels aren’t as good as the original. With some movies, though, that leaves a lot of room for quality. 

That’s definitely the case with “Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget.” Made 23 years after the original, the sequel is less focused and just a bit less clever than the original. It’s still a lot of fun, full of genuinely entertaining sequences, family-friendly sweetness, and even just a little bit of darkness. It does “Mission Impossible” better than the actual “Mission Impossible” movies are managing it these days, and it does it with Aardman’s absolutely wonderful stop-motion animation. As far as sequels go, it has a lot to offer. 

Years after the original movie, the group of chickens who escaped are living happy lives on an island. Rocky and Ginger’s daughter Molly, however, wants adventure more than she wants safety. She sneaks off and ends up getting caught by a “happy farm” that brainwashes its chickens (because happy chickens taste better). Can Ginger and Rocky save their daughter, or will she figure out how to save herself? 

The movie starts a little slow, but once the action starts rolling it’s a lot of fun. The humor is silly but never over the top, low-key and always delivered with excellent comic timing. Rocky’s more ridiculous than he is in the original, but he has wonderful dad energy and is ably voiced by Zachary Levi. Bella Ramsey is great as Molly, who genuinely feels like a combination of both her parents. 

The original “Chicken Run” was legendary. Though “Nugget” doesn’t hit that level, it makes for a fun movie night. 

Grade: Three stars

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