Netflix continues its ambitious animation streak with their next original animated feature The Willoughbys. The streaming giant has revealed the trailer for the highly-stylised CG comedy, produced by Vancouver-based Bron Animation.
Based on the “nefarious, strangely odd, and most beloved” children’s book by Lois Lowry, The Willoughbys follows the four kids in the titular family caring for themselves as they adapt their old-fashioned values to modern society. Here’s the official synopsis:
Convinced they’d be better off raising themselves, the Willoughby children hatch a sneaky plan to send their selfish parents on vacation. The siblings then embark on their own high-flying adventure to find the true meaning of family.Netflix
Directing this film is storyboard artist Kris Pearn, who is best known as one of the directors of Sony Pictures Animation’s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2. Fans of Cloudy 2 should recognise a few familiar names that Pearn has brought back forThe Willoughbys, including actors Will Forte (who voiced Chester V) and Terry Crews (replacement voice for Officer Earl), character designer Craig Kellman, and composer Mark Mothersbaugh. Animator Rob Lodermeier (Escape from Planet Earth) co-directs the film alongside Pearn.
Getting into the cast of the Willoughby family, the two lead children Tim and Jane are voiced by Will Forte and pop singer Alessia Cara respectively, while the parents are performed by Martin Short (Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted) as the Father, and Jane Krakowski (Open Season) as the Mother. Terry Cruise voices Commander Melanoff, Maya Rudolph (Connected) plays as the Nanny, and Ricky Gervais (Valiant) lends his comedic touch as The Cat, who acts as the film’s narrator.
Similar to the likes of The Peanuts Movie and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, The Willoughbys takes an unconventional stylistic approach to it’s CGI animation. The team at Bron Animation (previously known for Mighty Mighty Monsters and Henchmen) implement techniques like the abstract character designs of Craig Kellman, simplified textures, and a reduced framerate to give the feature a stylised and hand-crafted stop-motion feel. This is indeed a refreshing trend for mainstream animation, helping to distinguish from the competition of the typical semi-realistic Pixar-like approach.
The Willoughbys will be available to stream exclusively on Netflix worldwide, starting on April 22, 2020.