20+ The Willoughbys Reviews – Darkly Whimsical with Curious Animation

The Willoughbys ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Based on the 2008 novel by Lois Lowry, which I haven’t read the book, but have read an article that compares at least in style and substance to Lemony Snicket by the legendary Roald Dahl. I definitely detected a Dahlesq vibe in the off-kilter story.

Kris Pearn: When you look at the journey of a movie, there’s a lot of push and pull between design and story. Very early on, we [Pearn and production designer Kyle McQueen] knew we wanted to provide an illustrated world that gave the audience permission to enjoy the comedy of that film, even though there’s pretty diverse subject matter that we’re dealing with. One of the ideas was, “It can be the cat’s point of view.” And this idea spun into this notion of texturing the world in a way that feels handmade, and that handmade feeling collided with something I’m always really passionate about: 2D animation principles.

Netflix’s The Willoughbys director on the secrets you’d never notice – Polygon

Before we go further, if you want to see the movie, it is advised so you don’t have anything spoiled that you come back to this post. You can bookmark it or just perform a search on the title using the site search and easily return. Then you can read what others think of the movie and see how it matches up with your thoughts.

… you’ve been warned, SPOILERS ahead …

Ricky Gervais as the voice of the cat narrator is well cast

A story with a cat as narrator makes sense and Gervais, a comedian who I just sort of get (not really a fan), is a spot-on match. Just the right hint of irony and sardonic wit.

What’s the deal with those pointy noses animation?

Are these kids from some sort of witch clan or something? Whenever I think of sharp pointed noses, I think of a witch’s black hat. Is the animation hinting at something witch-like for the Willoughbys?

Not saying I disliked the animation, but am curious.

The story was kinda dry and negative

Kids that want nothing to do with their parents stories are a tough sell for young kids especially. There are ineffective, clumsy, dumb parents stories, but outright totally unlikable parents is a bit traumatizing for children.

Put the movie on and our grandchildren wouldn’t get into it. Maybe it’s for older than 5 year old kids, but part of my barometer for animated movies that aren’t clearly targeted to adult audiences is seeing how children react to it. This one? No interest.

Reviews by Others

Here’s what others think of The Willoughbys:


  1. animationflix: “…feels like a hybrid between 3d and stop motion, a spectacular character design with yarn like reddish Willoughbys hair, breathtaking and beautiful animation and with the smoothness of 3d Pixar like animation.”
  2. But Why Tho? A Geek Community / Jason Flatt (7/10): “…is a decent movie with endearing characters and excellent messages. The narration gets annoying after a while and the animation, while technically well done only the non-Willoughby characters feel good to look at.”
  3. Cookie n Screen: “…a kind and crazy treat for cinema, proving that Netflix can produce award-winning animation as well as sugary, surprises too.”
  4. Doc / EYG / Embrace Your Geekness (4.25/5): “It did take awhile to get started, but once the film got going, I was engaged in what it was showing me.  A great voice cast, colorful animation and a clever written script made up for the predictable plot.  The Willoughbys is a fun time for a family.”
  5. Ed Sum / Otaku No Culture: “This film would not work if it was not for Ricky Gervais. He voices the cat and gives the purrfect narration to keep me interested about the Willoughby family’s plight. If it was not for him, I’d most likely give this movie a pass.”
  6. FunAddict / Rudra Chakrabarti: “The film is really great”
  7. Irfan Review Films: “might not be very original, its novelty comes through in the delivery and execution, owing to a witty screenplay that combines nimble wordplay with highly compressed, well-paced plotting.”
  8. Jesse Williams / Movie Metropolis: “It’s an ode to living in the here and now, and that you always have the power and independence to choose your own family. As soppy as it is, it’s well worth a watch.”
  9. Josh Martinez / Films With Josh: “…is a nice bowl of fun, which has some sour bits but comes together very well in the end.”
  10. Keya Padilla / Awkwardly Vain: “I encourage you all to watch this film, to share your experience with your family. And begin to think about new expectations in your life, do not let the past lead you anymore.”
  11. Kim / Movies & Tea: “The most eye-catching moment is the character designs and the color choices throughout that really give the whole film a fun experience overall.”
  12. Kim / Tranquil Dreams: “There’s clever dialogue, fun characters and some pretty great voice cast tossed into the mix. Its charming, clever and colorful: three things that I love in animated films. Totally recommend this one!”
  13. Mark Hobin / Fast Film Reviews (3.5/5): “I did slowly warm up to the film’s wacky approach.  Perhaps I was worn down by the movie’s admitted — albeit relentless — charm.  The creative silliness ultimately won me over.”
  14. screen-queens / Ferdosa Abdi: “…is a delightfully twisted sugar-coated tale that will have you laughing and in awe along to the very end.”
  15. Stephen Dow / staticandscreen: “The story, for all its weaknesses, taps into a secret fantasy of children. I imagine every child at some point has fantasized about the freedom that would come without parents and the adventures they could have.”
  16. stringy99 / shortfilmreviews: “…is unlikely to win awards for originality but it was, for me, a fun story with plenty of energy, colour and humour to whisk you along and if you’re looking for some lockdown family fun then this may fit the bill.”
  17. The Joker On The Sofa: “…it’s a decent movie, even if it sometimes feels a little disjointed.”

Not Recommended

  1. Bryce West / The Illuminerdi: “If you are a parent reading this review, I would definitely steer away from showing this film to their kids as I feel this movie encourages kids to make poor decisions and gives a muddled stance on what it means to be an orphan.”
  2. Jesse Revell Reviews (6/10): “Substance is traded off for decent animation in this Addams Family-esque family tromp”
  3. Keith Noakes / KeithLovesMovies (50%): “…an animated film that will distract younger audiences but its dull story whose humor and irritating characters will be testing.”
  4. Murdocal (3/5): “…there’s too much going on and it all happens too quickly. You can’t really sit back and enjoy the good bits because we’re skipping from bit to bit. It also means the overall emotional message gets lost a little.”
  5. Rachel’s Reviews (4/10): “…is not my style of humor. It’s too negative and cynical and that’s not who I am as a human. I love the animation but that’s not enough for a recommendation; however, if it looks like your cup of tea give it a shot. It’s only a click away! (But just watch Klaus instead!)”

Linked above and wondering what would be the cool thing to do next? Commenting once in awhile is always good (I like reader and other blogger interaction). If you have the trackback/pingback come to your site then just approve it because after people read your review then they can come here and follow links and read someone else’s review. What comes around goes around and sharing is the ultimate “thank you!” on the internet.

Did I miss your review? Use the comments to tell me about your movie-related/review blog and I’ll follow. I like following movie-related blogs and pull quoting from my reading list as well as other new blogs shared, liked and discovered.

Happy movie watching!

2 thoughts on “20+ The Willoughbys Reviews – Darkly Whimsical with Curious Animation

  1. I am definitely into the dry sense of humor and animation style (not much the character designs) but this film has a real pacing issue. The plot feels disjointed and nothing is really focused on specifically. Overall a 7/10 movie, recommended for more mature kids and fans of that sort of Roald Dahl whimsy. Also, freaky gargling platypus dad.

    On your free time I suggest watching Ricky Gervais hosting the latest Golden Globe’s. Tom Hanks discomfort is a joy to experience for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I fixed Dahl’s first name for you. I smiled, because I’ve made that same mistake. Probably after I went to McDonald’s and had Ronald McDonald on the brain, lol.

      I wonder what The Willoughbys novel is like? Not sure if I’ll get around to reading it, but I bet the story is better than the movie (almost always the case). I used to try and avoid watching movies that I hadn’t read the books, but time-wise any more that’s a totally unrealistic goal for me.

      Liked by 1 person

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