The Willoughbys aren’t your average family. Father and Mother (Martin Short and Jane Krakowski) are so besotted with each other they ignore their four children – Tim (Forte), Jane (Alessia Cara) and identical twins both named Barnaby – and selfishly see their offspring as an inconvenience.
Having been raised on scraps and punished by being locked in the coal hole, Tim and his siblings aren’t too fond of their parents, either, and decide life would be far better if they raised themselves. Hatching a sneaky plan to send their parents off on a worldwide trip they’re unlikely to return from, the kids also have to contend with the arrival of a nanny (Rudolph) as they try to establish a happy home – at last – for themselves.
Based on the book by Lois Lowry, this fun animated adventure should appeal to fans of darkly humorous tales like The Addams Family and Lemony Snicket, who will enjoy the idea that, unlike traditional kids’ movies where the main character is an orphan but wishes they weren’t, these kids are desperate to get rid of their awful, terrible parents and become orphans as it’s the best option.
With a nicely twisted sense of humour that will appeal to adults and kids – check out the Matrix-like appearance of the orphanage staff – this wobbles slightly with its narration (delivered by Gervais voicing a mildly amusing cat) but otherwise charms thanks to the quirky plot, sprightly pacing and bright animation.
Is The Willoughbys suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This movie is aimed at the over-8s and there is nothing that should disturb them. It does have dark themes – the kids being badly treated by their parents and wishing them dead – but it is played lightly so shouldn’t upset viewers.
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