‘Migration’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: Does Mack Change His Mind About Migration?


Migration is a new animated film by Illumination, the same company that brought the Minion films, that is sweet and charming for viewers of any age, even though it is targeted mostly at children. Following a family of Mallard ducks, the film presents the family setting out on a migratory adventure for the first time in their lives. Along the way, the four make new friends and learn new lessons in their attempt to fly towards the idyllic waters of Jamaica. Overall, Migration does not have much beneath the surface, but the narrative and the visuals make it a fun watch.

Spoiler Alert

Plot Summary: What is the film about?

Migration begins at a small pond somewhere in the United States, where a family of Mallard ducks live in peace and contentment. The family is headed by Mack, a duck who has lived his entire life in this very pond, just like his forefathers, and intends to teach his kids the same values. But the two kids of Mack and his wife Pam, the elder Dax and the younger Gwen, are both quite bored of living the same life every day, restricted to just the pond. They want to venture out and see what lies beyond the pond, much to the horror of Mack, who is terribly scared of the world outside. In order to teach his kids to stay put at the pond, Mack tells them nightmarish stories every day, in which two adventurous ducklings always get killed and eaten up by predatory birds like herons and eagles. Pam is not fond of this practice of her husband, though, as she, too, dreams of seeing the world and not just remaining limited to the pond.

One day, a flock of migratory ducks flew by the area and took a stop at the pond, leading to great interest by Dax, Gwen, and Pam. While Pam waits to discuss the matter with Mack, the two ducklings flout their father’s rule and go over making introductions with the new guests. They learn that these ducks are flying to the beautiful waters of Jamaica to enjoy the warm weather, and the siblings are immediately excited by the idea that they get of Jamaica. Dax also makes acquaintance with a duck named Kim, who is around the same age as him, and the two are naturally quite interested in each other. When Pam and Mack also join the conversation with the migrating ducks, it does not lead to anything positive, as Mack refuses to go on any such adventure. The flock soon leaves, and Pam, Dax, and Gwen feel frustrated and sad at their drab existence.

Mack remains confident that he has made the right choice until an older duck, Uncle Dan, tells him that spending his whole life at the pond has been the best idea. Dan is old, bitter, and lonely since everyone has left him, and this makes Mack realize that his life will also soon be similar. Refusing to hold himself back within the safe boundaries of an easy life, Mack decides to go on migration with his family, much to the happiness of Pam, Dax, and Gwen.

What experiences do the Mallards have on their journey?

As the Mallard family, also accompanied by Uncle Dan, is on its very first flight out of their home, none of them are able to figure out the direction in which they should fly. Although Mack confidently takes the lead, he gets the family to fly straight into a horrific storm, and the five have to take shelter from heavy rains. It is at this shelter that a tall heron comes across them and reaches out to them with extreme interest. Mack is immediately alarmed, for he has known all his life that herons are predators who eat ducks, and so he tries to avoid getting any attention from them. However, the heron insists that the family must take shelter at her house, and unwilling to sour the situation, Pam agrees to the advice. As the ducks make their way to the house, they are introduced to Erin and Harry, a pair of elderly herons who live in the swamplands. Erin explains that the two of them would also migrate a lot during their younger days but had to stop since Harry grew very old. At present, Erin holds the responsibility of bringing food to the house, and for the longest time, Mack has been sure that they are the food for the night.

The fear is alleviated when Erin brings out a frying pan for the ducks to spend the night on, and the scary appearances of the herons also make the Mallard family spend the night in utmost fear. When the storm is over, and the skies are clear at midnight, Mack encourages the family to fly out, but Erin wakes up and stops their attempt right away. Although it seems like the elderly herons really intend to kill the ducks and eat them, the truth is far from it, as Erin saves Dax and Gwen from a large predatory fish, and the Mallards spend the night at the house. The lesson here is that not all preconceived notions and generalized teachings about dangers are true, and the only way to get over one’s fears is to have new experiences, as learned by Mack.

The family keeps flying the next morning, and they unintentionally end up in the large metropolis of New York City, which is terribly confusing and new for them. A fight breaks out between Dan and a group of local pigeons when the old duck finds a sandwich and is immediately cornered by the pigeons. As a result, the leader of the group, Chump, has to come out to fight and is not at all amused by Mack referring to pigeons as vermin. Pam has to step in to defuse the situation, and it is also she who negotiates a split between the two sides of the sandwich. Won over by Pam’s understanding nature, Chump decides to help the family reach Jamaica and takes them to someone from the very place.

Migration next introduces a majestic scarlet macaw from Jamaica named Delroy, who is unfortunately in a horrible situation at the moment. This is because the bird is kept in a cage by a human chef who runs his own restaurant in New York City. Although Delroy wants to escape and reunite with his family members in the truly paradisiacal world of the Caribbean, there is simply no way for him to do so. Thus, the Mallard family steps in to help the bird, and in the process, Mack and Pam are spotted by the disgruntled and obnoxious chef. The human grows vengeful against the ducks, for they have caused chaos in his kitchen, and he intends to get hold of the birds and cook up some extravagant dishes with them.

However, the Mallards and Chump together are able to hold up against the chef, and they manage to get the key to Delroy’s cage, using which the macaw frees himself and flies out into the open sky. He then promises to take the ducks to Jamaica, where he too wants to return, and the group leaves New York City, leaving behind their new friend, Chump. Mack and his family also learn how to make new friends and to help them out when in danger through this experience. Their efforts also pay off, as Delroy now leads them towards their dream destination of Jamaica.

How does Dax prove his worth to his father? 

On their long flight towards Jamaica, the birds have to take a break when little Gwen refuses to relieve herself in the sky, and in the process, they come across a group of white Pekin ducks. The pekins seem to be living a wonderful life, as all their needs are looked after by human workers, and they spend their days amidst ample food and entertainment. Mack decides to stay back at the place with his family to spend a day amidst such luxury, but a very different reality is soon revealed. While the family is busy playing around with the other ducks, Dax hears the loud noise of a truck horn and decides to check on the matter by himself. He is scared beyond wits to find that the same chef as earlier was now at the place, paying the humans to look after the ducks and then helping up the birds on his truck. It becomes evident that this entire place is a farm where ducks are raised for slaughter, and this is why all their needs are looked after by humans so that the farm can increase their profits.

Dax tries to tell the leader of the pekins, GooGoo, about all this, but the latter simply refuses to believe it. When Mack gets to know the situation and also becomes sure of it after spotting the chef, he takes over the responsibility of explaining the matter to GooGoo. The father had always been very overprotective of his children, but this was getting in the way of Dax’s feelings. The duckling started to think that his father was undermining him, not believing in his capabilities, and thus considering him to be worthless. While Mack only wants to ensure his son’s safety and so tells Dax to be with his mother and sister, the youngster takes the advice in the wrong direction and decides to take matters into his own hands or wings. Dax attempts to stop the chef and is immediately attacked by the man, and Mack has to jump in and save his son.

Although the group of birds, including the pekins, are able to survive the ordeal this time, a huge argument between Mack and Dax spoils the mood. But they find themselves in greater danger at night when the chef brings his helicopter to look for the birds and finally captures them. The chef had paid for the lot of Pekins, and since he is also vengeful against the Mallards, he gets hold of the entire bunch. Only Dax and Gwen are left behind since they have been sitting away from the rest of the flock, and this finally gives Dax a chance to show his bravery. Although the duckling’s feathers had been injured earlier by the chef, and he could not take flight, he came up with a plan very quickly. Since a great struggle had taken place, some of the feathers of the birds had come off, among which were also Delroy’s colorful long plumes. Dax attaches these very feathers to his wings and uses them to fly high in the sky.

As Mack and Pam are able to free themselves from the chef’s helicopter, they are rescued by their ducklings, much to the joy of them and the entire bird flock. Mack finally accepts that he had been wrong in being so overprotective of Dax and that he should have trusted in the instincts of his son earlier. Dan, Delroy, GooGoo, and the other pekins are able to escape the helicopter, too, bringing an end to the reign of terror that the human chef had created for so long.

Does Mack Ultimately Change His Mind About Migration?

As the birds continue on their flight towards Jamaica, they are finally able to reach the island and soak in the warm pleasures of the idyllic place. Delroy is also delighted to reunite with his Macaw family, and they all welcome the Mallards and the other guests to their homeland.

Migration‘s ending shows scenes from the next spring, when the Mallard family is ready to return home from their long vacation. However, Mack is not willing to return just yet, for he has found a large group of penguins who need to be escorted home. Unlike his former self, Mack is now aware of how traveling broadens one’s mind, and so he intends to go around the world more often and learn new things about life. As a result, he agrees to take the penguins back to the South Pole along with the rest of his family members. Although Pam is hesitant at first because of the long distance they have to travel, she finally agrees, and together with Uncle Dan, the Mallards once again set off on a new adventure. Pictures that follow the end credits also show the Mallard family together with the penguins on their way to the South Pole and then finally at the glaciers as well.

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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