With two parents who only regard their offspring as ballast, the four Willoughby children would rather “prove” themselves. In this case, proven is not the past of proof, but a new verb that means “orphan”. A self-crafted holiday brochure full of life-threatening destinations should help the Willoughby children.
Mum and Dad bite in, but it soon turns out that they cannot be destroyed in foreign places either. Moreover, they send the children a babysitter on their roof and they also try to sell the parental home remotely.
This Netflix production is based on the 2008 children’s book of the same name by American author Lois Lowry. Director Kris Pearn (Cloudy with a chance of meatballs 2) chose a cartoonish adaptation. The characters look like walking caricatures and are somewhat reminiscent of the recent cartoon version of The Addams Family. In that film, however, the creepy atmosphere and shady design correspond to the tone of the story, while The Willoughbys an equally obscure pair of exuberant color explosions.
The Willoughbys is often funny and pleasantly looks away, but lacks the originality and emotional depth with which an animation studio such as Pixar often distinguishes itself. Surprisingly, the makers still manage to give this film a family-friendly twist, without the enamel jumping off your teeth.