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Today’s Prayer Focus
MOVIE REVIEW

Migration

also known as “Migración: Un viaje patas arriba,” “¡Patos!,” “Änder!,” “Miqrasiya,” “Didžioji ančių kelionė,” “Ender på eventyr,” “Endur!,” See more »
MPA Rating: PG-Rating (MPA) for action/peril and mild rude humor.

Reviewed by: Shawna Ellis
CONTRIBUTOR

Moral Rating: Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Kids Preteens Family
Genre: Animation Adventure Comedy Family Fantasy
Length: 1 hr. 22 min.
Year of Release: 2023
USA Release: December 22, 2023 (wide release—3,761 theaters)
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Relevant Issues
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Mallard ducks

Overprotective father

Undertaking an adventure despite one’s very cautious nature

Rejecting fear in your life

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

Family relationships

Teamwork / working together to overcome hardships and obstacles

Working together to help others

Family Answers HOME page
Parenting and Family Questions and Answers

Importance of expanding one’s horizons

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Anthropomorphic animals

Birds in the Bible

Herons in the Bible

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Importance of family sticking together through both joys and perils

Becoming lost in New York City

Animals of the Bible

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Featuring Elizabeth BanksPam Mallard (voice), the daring and quick-witted mother of Dax and Gwen
Kumail Nanjiani Mack Mallard (voice), the anxious father of Dax and Gwen
Caspar Jennings … Dax Mallard (voice), Mack and Pam’s confident and restless son
Tresi Gazal … Gwen Mallard (voice), Mack and Pam’s innocent and lovable daughter
AwkwafinaChump (voice), the leader of a New York City pigeon gang
Danny DeVitoUncle Dan (voice), the curmudgeonly and adventure-averse uncle of Mack and the great uncle of Dax and Gwen
Carol KaneErin (voice), a heron whom the Mallards befriend in their journey
Keegan-Michael KeyDelroy (voice), a homesick Jamaican-accented parrot locked away in a Manhattan restaurant
See all »
Director Benjamin Renner
Guylo Homsy
Producer Illumination Entertainment
Universal Pictures
See all »
Distributor Distributor: Universal Pictures. Trademark logo.Universal Pictures

In a world of children’s movies pushing various agendas, Illumination Studio’s new animated film “Migration” is refreshingly different. It’s a fun, clean family-oriented adventure featuring delightful characters.

The tight-knit Mallard family lives a safe and comfortable existence in a New England pond. They have never left its familiar confines, especially with the father, Mack (Kumail Nanjiani) instilling a fear of the outside world into his two ducklings from a motivation of love and protection. His wife Pam (Elizabeth Banks) would love more adventure, and when another flock of ducks invites the Mallards to migrate with them to Jamaica she is excited by the possibility. After realizing that he could end up like his lackluster Uncle Dan (Danny DeVito), Mack decides to go against his cautious nature and undertake an adventure.

It turns out that Mack was right… there is danger to be found in the world outside of their pond. As the characters navigate some of these perils, young children may be frightened. One sequence in a dark swamp with intimidating large birds is particularly scary. I heard children in the theater expressing fear, with one saying loudly, “I don’t like this!”

Other peril is more slapstick and silly, with the exception of a human chef who pursues the ducks relentlessly and wields knives, sharp meat forks and nets. This villain is incredibly over-the-top, with his pursuits becoming more and more ludicrous. I found this antagonist to be the least enjoyable part of the film, and waited for the scenes involving him to be over.

Just as the family experiences danger, they also find great beauty and friendship on their adventure. Characters work together to solve problems, help other creatures and make their way to their tropical destination.

It is rare to see such a loving and intact family portrayed in an animated film. Mack and Pam are very devoted to each other and their children. The young siblings do have some light arguments, but also moments of endearing tenderness and teamwork.

There are a couple scenes of angst and tension between Mack and his “teenage” son Dax (Caspar Jennings). The young girl duckling Gwen (Tresi Gazal) occasionally uses a kind of whining plea to get her way that may grate on some parents. Uncle Dan is loved and included, but Mack makes some light jokes about leaving him behind on a couple of occasions. The family works together to help others and bonds together more tightly during their adventures.

The voice acting is solid, and the film is beautifully animated, especially in scenes involving the ducks in flight. The musical score by John Powell (known for “How to Train Your Dragon”) is whimsical and enjoyable.

While “Migration” is not a perfect film, and is predictable and perhaps not terribly memorable, it is nice fare for today’s families and a sharp contrast to the message-heavy animated films recently released by other studios. The only “message” in this film is about family sticking together through both joys and perils.

At one point, Mack says with incredulity to his wife, “You have never given up on me!” These are the things that our children need to see portrayed in film. There are no subversive agendas, no lewd situations or language, no denigrating of family.

There are some misunderstandings and miscommunications within the family, but characters grow and change. The only human characters are villains, but the film is not anti-human.

Some may take Mack’s anxiety about the world beyond the pond to be a criticism of conservative parents or homeschoolers who isolate their children from the secular world in an effort to protect them from outside influences. I did not come away thinking that this was the case. The adolescent son in the Mallard family wants to know why they don’t migrate “like everyone else.” Youths often don’t understand the motivations of parents. But I don’t believe that Mack has a problem with conformity, just that Mack himself is simply comfortable in his home, unadventurous and timid. He is also absolutely correct that there are legitimate dangers beyond the pond.

What is the balance between safety and adventure, between protecting the family and allowing them to have new experiences? Leaving the pond may put them in peril, but also might allow them to help others.

God does not ask us to totally isolate our families or hide away fearful of the world. How could we spread the gospel in doing so? But God does want us to be wise in where we go and discerning in those who we allow to influence our children.

Even though we are to be in the world, we are not to be of the world or conforming to the world (Romans 12:2). Parents are to be the primary influencers of their children, not “everyone else.” Christian parents can allow their children to experience the beauty of the world while also being there to guide and teach along the way.

While I enjoyed “Migration,” other than the over-the-top human villain, I was not fond of the animated short called “Mooned” which plays before the movie. It shows the fate of the character Vector (from “Despicable Me”) after he is marooned on the Moon. While many will be glad to see a reprise of several Minions in their zany element, I just did not enjoy Vector’s attitude and antics. He uses some very mild rude language (dork, stupid, oh poop) and at one point is in just briefs.

Content of concern

VIOLENCE: Characters are in cartoon peril, threatened by wild animals, dangerous circumstances, and a human who wants to cook them. Family members are separated and frightened. Violence is cartoonish and slapstick, with creatures hit by vehicles, trapped, chased, stepped on, and in many outrageous situations. Predatory creatures and a human antagonist might frighten young children. One prolonged scene near the beginning is dark and foreboding with very creepy heron characters. A father and son argue briefly.

SEX AND NUDITY: No sexual innuendo or situations. An animated short before the film features a male character seen in only briefs for some time.

LANGUAGE: A duck says “oh my gosh,” and the word “heck” is said once. Insults like “trashy vermin” and “chump” are used. In the animated “Minion” short before the “Migration” film a character says “oh poop” twice and uses insults like “dork” and “stupid.”

DRUGS AND ALCOHOL: In the short before the film, a Minion character has a drink that appears to be alcohol.

OTHER: Ducks are seen doing yoga in a cult-like environment which they call “duck heaven.” They are portrayed as being brainwashed and gullible.

There is nothing ground-breaking in “Migration,” just a nicely animated and fun (but occasionally scary) adventure that children should enjoy.

While there are no overt spiritual lessons, the movie does uplift family, friendship and helping others in need. Hopefully it will not be too overlooked, as we need more options like this available. If movies like “Migration” succeed while others which promote unbiblical agendas languish, perhaps Hollywood will start to get the message. It is our responsibility to be careful what we set before the eyes and ears of our children.

I rated this film as “better than average” (and not higher) only because of the continual slapstick violence and some scary images. I can recommend this film with some caution due to a few scenes that may be frightening to very young or sensitive children.

  • Violence: Mild
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Minor
  • Profane language: Minor
  • Nudity: Minor
  • Drugs/Alcohol: Minor
  • Occult: Minor
  • Sex: None
  • Wokeism: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


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