Sir Lionel Frost (voiced by Hugh Jackman) is a self-styled explorer with one great ambition: to be admitted to the exclusive London club of great men who have thus far turned down his application to join their ranks because they do not think he is worthy, or rather, their de facto leader Lord Piggot-Dunceby (Stephen Fry) has convinced them. But this does not put Frost off, if anything it makes him more determined, and while his most recent excursion to photograph The Loch Ness Monster resulted in him finding the creature but failing to photograph it and losing his manservant (David Walliams) in the process, he believes he has a better idea, one that will truly pay off...
Missing Link was a production from stop motion animation studio Laika which after the huge success of Coraline created many beautifully crafted toons that cost an awful lot of money yet somehow failed to find the audience their fans were convinced they were owed. That pattern repeated itself here, as while the trailer made it look like a disappointment, actually watching the movie revealed it to be one of the sweetest adventures around, perfect for indulgent kids and even more indulgent animation aficionados who would appreciate the unbelievable amount of work that went into manufacturing an entire world in such meticulous detail, not that it was simply a technical success.
With its themes worn, like its heart, on its sleeve, this was not going to be some hard to fathom effort more aimed at intellectuals than their offspring, but the thing was, intellectuals would enjoy this just as much. Sir Lionel makes a bet with his nemesis at the club that he will prove the existence of the Sasquatch (or Bigfoot as he is commonly known) and the Lord is secure in the knowledge his money is safe and Frost will once again make a complete fool of himself. What he doesn't twig, but we can tell almost straight away, is that Frost needs a friend to go exploring with, yet he is poor at sustaining relationships, hence has seen any chance of that pushed away by this thoughtlessness.
However, he notices a letter sent from the North West of the United States which informs him proof of Bigfoot is there for the asking, so off he goes, and after trekking to the deepest part of the forest, he finds... exactly what he has been looking for, in two ways, as it is the creature he terms The Missing Link (Zach Galifianakis) and a potential pal. Yet Frost is too enthused about the former to notice the latter, despite Mister Link (as he is now called) being a lonely soul who wanted companionship as he is the last of his line and has nobody to share his woodland home with. When Link asks Frost to accompany him to find anyone who could fit the description of the same species, he is initially reluctant, but once he acknowledges this could mean the Yeti of the Himalayas, he is more interested.
This was a tad male-centric for much of the running time, with Timothy Olyphant also in a substantial role as an assassin sent by Piggot-Dunceby to either kill Frost or, as it develops, Mister Link, but Zoe Saldana also featured as the oft-scowling Adelina Fortnight, the widow of an old colleague of Sir Lionel's in ownership of the map to Shangri-La, where the Yeti are supposed to hang out. To say any more would be to spoil the surprises, but while this trio have their differences, they see eye to eye enough, and are able to help each other with their various deficiencies, to build a defence against those who have banded together to exclude the likes of them. There was an element of Adelina stuck in the cliché "sensible woman between two daft men" role that was prevalent across twenty-first century entertainment, but Frost and Link assist her to be a better person too, if only because they have shown her something of the world and given her a taste for more. Overall, the kindly tone was easy to warm to, there were big laughs and thrills, and if it was not the best Laika ever delivered, it was streets ahead of many a lazy CGI talking animals effort. Music by Carter Burwell.