‘The Willoughbys’ Review – Subtle Distinction Between A House And A Home


The Willoughbys takes you on a comedy ride with the opening narration spoken by a roof-top CAT. It is the story of four kids neglected by their parents who are too obsessed with each other. The family of Willoughbys has enjoyed a lineage having acclaimed painters, writers, fighters, and philosophers. But the current Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby are a total waste. The eldest son Tim is inclined towards saving his family’s prestige.

Things get worse when the cat indulges in the matters of the family. An orphan kid ends up in Willoughby’s house amplifying the hatred of Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby towards kids. They throw away their kids warning them to get rid of this new baby if they want to share the roof.

Tim, his younger sister Jane and two younger twin brothers both named Barnaby try to locate a new home for the orphan but end up leaving the baby on the door of a candy factory owned by Commander Melanoff.

On their way back home, the kids plan to send their parents to vacation to get rid of them. Though the parents leave, they assign a nanny to look at their kids. A series of comical and dramatic events make the kids orphan.

‘The Willoughbys’ Ending

Afraid of being orphaned forever and living in foster homes and social care institutions, the Willoughby kids locate their parents and set out on a journey to bring them back. They reach the location, the chilly mountain top somewhere in Sveetzerlünd” (parody of Switzerland). But as usual, self-absorbed parents steal the kid’s balloon-wagon and leave them to die in the cold. The kids finally realize that it is better to be an orphan than having parents like these. They accept their end, their death in the mountains when help arrives.

Linda, their nanny and candy factory owner, Commander Melanoff save the kids. They also adopt Willoughby children who live happily ever after at the candy factory with their new loving family.

The Willoughbys is an endearing animated film with likable characters. The computer-generated graphics are soothing and appealing. Even the storyline is delightful with a few entertaining bits. Tim’s obsession with mustaches is amusing. The stray cat is cunning and adorable at the same time. Her witty one-liners are the best bits of the entire film. The film becomes something unique, with just one character.

Even though the narrative is funny and engaging, it doesn’t leave an emotional impact. Or maybe, it didn’t intend to. The cruelty of the parents is treated superficially in order to avoid any negative impact on the young viewers. It had a premise to explore the impact of absent parenting but the film maintained its distance from anything serious or substantial. Similarly, it had a solid premise to make a distinction between a house and home which in itself is a very promising theme. The film, however, decided not to visit the preachy or the dark streets. From that perspective, the narrative is entertaining. An adult though, might not find the film striking enough.

The Willoughbys is 2020 animated film directed by Kris Pearn. It is streaming on Netflix.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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