Ducks have been a fixture of animation for a long time. Donald and Daffy are the two best-known examples, but there’s also Karoo from the Japanese anime One Piece, Eggy from The Penguins of Madagascar, and the CGI Howard the Duck as he appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy, among others. We could toss in Jon Cryer’s “Duckie” from Pretty in Pink, although that’s another thing altogether. Carrying on the tradition is a family of mallards in Migration, the latest effort from Illumination, which comes to Blu-ray in a collector’s edition packed with bonus features.

Mack (Kumail Nanjiani) has found a nice, safe pond for his family to live in. He tells children Gwen (Tresi Gazal) and Dax (Caspar Jennings) stories about the scary world that exists beyond that pond. After encountering another family of migrating birds, Mack’s wife Pam (Elizabeth Banks) suggests they all fly to Jamaica for the winter. He agrees, after getting over his inherent terror. Accompanying them is rotund Uncle Dan (Danny DeVito). The ducks have a series of adventures along the way, as they meet up with a city-dwelling pigeon named Chump (Awkwafina) and a captured macaw called Delroy (Keegan-Michael Key).

Migration follows a familiar, well-honed template for animated adventures. Will Mack overcome his fear of leaving the pond? Yes. Will Dax save the day after his father forbids him from taking action during a threat? Of course. We even get the obligatory final scene where all the characters dance while a pop song plays on the soundtrack. Not much here is groundbreaking.

And yet, the movie proves to be decent family fun anyway. The animation is superb, especially during a long, unbroken shot that finds the ducks dodging vehicles in a crowded city. Little duck details, like how they can twist their heads around, are smartly incorporated into the story. Best of all is Mike White’s screenplay, which contains snappy dialogue and devises clever complications for the ducks to get into. A scene where Mack and Pam try to sneak past a nasty chef who might want to cook them is particularly humorous. I laughed out loud quite a few times during the tight 82-minute running time.

The best sequence involves two elderly herons the family encounters. It’s an example of what Illumination does best. Quirky design of the herons combines with off-kilter comedy – because herons eat ducklings – to achieve maximum wackiness. You’re never sure if the oldsters are benevolent or predatory, so every move they make offers surprise. Playfulness of this sort runs throughout Migration, making it as enjoyable for the adults as it is for the kids.

A terrific voice cast adds to the pleasure, as the performers give the characters colorful personalities. Between the stars, the visually appealing animation, and the nice message about families trying new things together, the film has plenty working in its favor, despite the formulaic structure of the plot.

Scroll down for a look at the Blu-ray bonus features.

out of four

Migration is rated PG for action/peril and mild rude humor. The running time is 1 hour and 22 minutes.

Blu-ray Features:

The Migration Blu-ray comes with a ton of bite-sized bonus features. First up are three funny Illumination mini-movies. “Fly Hard” features Chump trying to return a kindly old lady’s locket during a blizzard. “Midnight Mission” and “Mooned” both feature the Minions bringing their patented mayhem to outer space.

“Meet the Cast” is a collection of segments, each one looking at a different voice actor. Producer Chris Meledandri and director Benjamin Renner offer their views on what the stars bring to the movie. You additionally get footage of them recording their lines in the studio.

A selection of five featurettes follows. “Microphone Madness” is an assembly of the actors being silly in the recording room. “Taking Flight” is a making-of segment briefly showing how the film was conceived and designed. “The Art of Flight” is a compendium of storyboards, rough animation, and finished product that demonstrates how the flying sequences were achieved. “The Sound of Flight” is a short interview with composer John Powell, who discusses his musical score. Wrapping up this section is “Build Your Own Pop-Up Book,” a detailed instruction on how to…well, it’s right there in the title.

“How to Draw” is a 4-part tutorial on drawing the main characters. “Calling All Birds” provides young viewers with instructions on how to make three different birdcalls using common household items. Similarly, “Best Nests” teaches them how to make a nest and a water feeder. Two theatrical trailers for Migration complete the set.

An entertaining movie and enjoyable supplementary material make the Migration Blu-ray an impressive package overall. Click here to purchase a copy from Amazon.

© 2024 Mike McGranaghan