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story.lead_photo.caption The Yeti-like Mr. Link (voice of Zach Galifianakis) recruits a famous explorer to help him find his missing relatives in Chris Butler’s animated comedy Missing Link.

It may not be saying much to declare that Missing Link is possibly the greatest movie every made about Bigfoot.

The bar is pretty low.

Missing Link

88 Cast: Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis, Zoe Saldana, Timothy Olyphant, Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas

Director: Chris Butler

Rating: Rated PG for action/peril and some mild rude humor

Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

The Steven Spielberg-produced Harry and the Hendersons has been the pinnacle, and it's subpar for Spielberg's production company, Amblin. Most Sasquatch tales wind up like the Mystery Science Theater 3000 offering Cry Wilderness, which also came out in 1987. Without Jonah Ray and the 'bots, it's more fun to be stomped on by Bigfoot than to endure the movie.

Thankfully, Laika Entertainment (Coraline, ParaNorman), the quirky Oregon-based animation studio, understands the northwest mythology and has come up with enough delightfully goofy content of its own to make us wonder if there really are furry humanoids trampling through the woods.

Even if you don't really care if we'll ever find Sasquatches near Mount Ranier, Missing Link is loaded with a long series of breathtaking action sequences, gorgeously opulent sets, endearing characters and snappy dialogue.

Considering what Laika accomplished with Kubo and the Two Strings, it's a given the studio creates delightful eye candy. Thanks to writer-director Chris Butler (ParaNorman), there's enough nutritional value to keep a large primate healthy.

Missing Link concerns a brave but frustrated 19th-century explorer named Sir Lionel Frost (voiced by Hugh Jackman), who frequently finds mythical beasts like the Loch Ness Monster but has even greater difficulty proving it.

When he finds Nessie, for example, the camera breaks before he can present the photo.

Sir Lionel is brave enough to save his beleaguered assistants from harm, but his titanic ego makes keeping good help impossible.

Nonetheless, he receives an encouraging letter from a mysterious fellow named "Mr. Link" telling him the elusive Bigfoot isn't so hard to find.

When Sir Lionel arrives in Washington state from London, he learns that not only is Sasquatch easy to find, but the beast wrote the letter. Mr. Link (Zach Galifianakis) is completely sentient as well as completely naked.

The only reason his handwriting isn't better is that he doesn't have opposable thumbs to go with his large feet.

It turns out Mr. Link wants to be found because there aren't any other beings like him, except for the Yetis who live in the hidden village of Shangri La in the Himalayas. Life gets lonely when there aren't other hairy people to hang out with.

Working with the widow (Zoe Saldana) of a less fortunate peer of Sir Lionel's, the three embark on the journey, but they are pursued by a ruthless bounty hunter named Stenk (Timothy Olyphant) who simply wants to mount Mr. Link on the wall.

Butler's quick pacing and eye for detail make the journey more thrilling than exhausting. With dozens of exotic locales and harrowing situations, Missing Link features enough harrowing scrapes for several live action movies, much less a stop motion film. It's easy to forget that each detail in the movie (from the ones in lakes, mountains or saloons) had to be hand-crafted because the story is sufficiently involving.

It's also delightful to see Sir Lionel learn to chase after something other than accolades. The movie may be aimed at youngsters, but there are far too many adults who could learn from his mistakes.

There are a few gags that could be considered pandering to grown-ups in the crowd, and main villain Lord Piggot-Dunceb (Stephen Fry) is a boring snob compared to the more lively Stenk.

Nonetheless, Sasquatch has provided Laika an opportunity to demonstrate what kind of stories can be told with stop-motion and how eloquently they can be delivered. Because Bigfoot is such an indelible part of American folklore, it's great that he can finally leave behind something other than phony paw prints or, um, something else.

Explorer Sir Lionel Frost (voice of Hugh Jackman) and the widowed Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana), accompany Mr. Lemuel Link (Zach Galifianakis) to the fabled valley of Shangri-La in Missing Link.

MovieStyle on 04/12/2019

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