Follow TV Tropes

Following

Western Animation / Missing Link

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/missing_link_poster.png
Missing Link is a 2019 Stop Motion animated film by Laika. It's notable for being their first film to not have a Kid Hero since Corpse Bride (which wasn't fully a Laika movie anyway, though they were involved), and their first film to be devoid of any horror elements. In 2020, it became the first fully stop-motion film to win a Golden Globe Award.
Advertisement:

The story follows Sir Lionel Frost (voiced by Hugh Jackman), an avid explorer who seeks to discover proof of the world's most famous legends. One day, he encounters a sasquatch (voiced by Zach Galifianakis) who is the last of his kind, and wishes to join the Yetis, his cousins, in the mythical land of Shangri-La. Together, the two set off on an incredible journey to unite Mr. Link with his brethren.

Not to be confused with The Missing Link, The Missing Lynx, or the wrestler.


Advertisement:

This movie contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Prologue: The entire Nessie sequence at the beginning. It sets up who Lionel is, the existence of cryptids in this movie's world, and the generally adventurous tone, but otherwise doesn't really tie into the main plot.
  • Adult Fear: Imagine being Gamu, and then imagine a bunch of men come along and threaten to not only shoot you (and your chicken), but your infant great-grandson.
  • Almost Kiss: Nearly happens twice between Adelina and Lionel. The first nearly occurs during the elephant ride through the jungle, but the interferance of a sudden tree branch prevents it. Towards the end of the movie, Lionel attempts to give Adelina a goodbye kiss, but she stops him in his tracks.
  • An Aesop: You don't need the approval of others to define yourself. There's a difference between acceptance and friendship.
  • Advertisement:
  • And the Adventure Continues: The movie ends with Sir Lionel, now with Susan as his assistant, getting his hands on the Fiji mermaid, which he believes to be the key to finding Atlantis.
  • Armour-Piercing Question: Sick of him griping about the club, Adelina asks Lionel why he wants to join a group of old men who openly hate him. Lionel goes silent for a moment then forces himself to admit that he only wants to join because they said he couldn't.
  • Artistic License – Biology: As Christopher Lee once pointed out, nobody lets out a blood-curdling scream when they've been stabbed through the chest. (Not even when they're falling to their death like Stenk.)
  • Artistic License – Geography: Maps of the United States show Arizona and New Mexico despite the movie being set in 1909, before they became states.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: The eponymous Link is a Bigfoot, and the protagonists encounter a tribe of yetis.
  • Book-Ends:
    • The story begins with Sir Lionel's assistant quitting for good, and ends with Sir Lionel finding a new one, Susan.
    • The beginning of the story shows a shot of Sir Lionel's office, complete with a photo of Adelina. The story ends with a similar shot, but this time, photo Adelina's smile seems to smile upon the adjacent photo of Sir Lionel and Susan as friends.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Yes, Shangri-la may be lovely and pristine and overall preserves the very beauty of nature. But its inhabitants, the Yetis, are not only cold and isolationist, but heartlessly sentence all intruders to life imprisonment.
  • Disney Villain Death: Lord Piggot-Dunceby and his assistant fall to their deaths after the former destroys the ice bridge. Subverted by Stenk, who only falls after being struck by a giant icicle.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Zigzagged. The yetis' punishment for trespassing on their land is... not death. Instead, they imprison trespassers for life.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The photo of Aldous and Adelina counts as this for him, showing that he was a good husband as well as a great man.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The giant foot print in the snow can easily be a hint of the existence of the yeti and their part in the story.
    • A portrait of Adelina can be seen hanging on the wall of Lionel's office, showing his connection to her.
    • The letter Sir Lionel receives that gives him a lead to the elusive Sasquatch seems badly written. It's a telling hint that the letter was written by none other than the Missing Link himself.
    • The audience is treated to a view of the plaque for the Optimates Club. Sir Lionel's carriage unwittingly splashes mud onto it. This hints that Sir Lionel will come to disown his dream of joining their club.
    • As Adelina pushes her way through a crowd, she comes between a couple about to kiss. This foreshadows how she will turn down Lionel's kiss towards the end.
    • The Elder Yeti sharing the true name of Shangri-La, "Keep-Out-We-Hate-You", not only paints how isolationist the yetis are but how little they care for Mr. Link (or any outsiders for that matter).
    • The Elder Yeti refers to sasquatches like Mr. Link as the yetis' "red-neck cousins", reflecting her and the yetis' deep-rooted disdain for even their branch cousins.
  • Gender-Neutral Writing: When describing his encounter with the friendly prospector, Mr. Link never uses gendered pronouns, instead opting for the singular "they". This is to make it a surprise that the prospector was a woman named Susan.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • Whilst visiting a town nearby the location of the sasquatch, a prostitute flirts with Lionel from her window. A prisoner filing his way out of the town jail also flirts with Lionel.
    • When Mr. Link is going through the less than flattering newspapers he read about Lionel in, the last one mentions that he was caught "in flagrante" with a Russian ballerina, a phrase younger viewers are unlikely to know that means being caught in a sexual act. Lionel's embarrassed reaction seals it.
    • "Now, hold me tightly." "Are you... Are you sure? Adelina's watching."
  • Go Through Me: Lionel and Adelina pull this for Link when they stand up to Lord Piggot-Dunceby.
  • Irony:
    • Lionel is already an adventurer in his own rights, and an awesome one at that. Yet he feels he needs to join a club dedicated to so-called adventurers (who are more like your average petty poachers) in order to prove himself.
    • Lord Piggot-Dunceby standing atop a table like a barbarian whilst claiming he and British society "bring good manners to the world".
    • "The people we don't want here are trying to leave! Force them to stay!"
  • I Gave My Word: Sir Lionel gives his word to Mr. Link (and then has to explain what that means) that he will help him find a home.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The Yetis are extreme in their isolationism but Adelina concedes that they have a point that humans ruin the beauty of nature in vain and glorious efforts to validate their self worth.
    • Downplayed with Lord Piggot-Dunceby. He is right for the wrong reasons: Sir Lionel doesn't belong in the Optimates Club, but it's less to do with him being worthy to join and more to do with being in a league of his own.
  • Jerk-to-Nice-Guy Plot: Sir Lionel Frost starts out as a self-centered Glory Hound who is willing to put others in danger for his own reputation. During his journey with Mr. Link and Adelina, he learns to care about others and becomes Mr. Link's true friend.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Whilst denouncing Sir Lionel as man without proof of his accomplishments, Sir Piggot-Dunceby takes Lionel's mold-casting of a sasquatch footprint and deliberately drops it on the floor to shatter into pieces.
    • The Elder Yeti is no better when she not only tells Mr. Link to his face that he doesn't belong in Shangri-la, but says humans are more "his kind".
  • Kiss Diss: When parting ways with Adelina towards the end of the movie, Lionel leans in to kiss her, but she stops him halfway.
  • Lighter and Softer: This is Laika's first film completely devoid of horror elements. That said, it is still quite intense at times, especially in the chase scenes and climactic fight with Willard Stenk. See Vile Villain, Saccharine Show below.
  • Literal-Minded: Mr. Link admits as much after Sir Lionel hands him a grappling hook with the instruction to throw it over a wall and he throws the whole thing.
    Sir Lionel: I give you my word.
    Mr. Link: Okay, what is it?
    Sir Lionel: What?
    Mr. Link: The word.
    Sir Lionel: No, it was a figure of speech.
    Mr. Link: Sounds good, what is it?
    Sir Lionel: ...The word is 'trust'.
  • Mugged for Disguise: After a bar fight Sir Lionel has Susan wear a tweed suit a few sizes too small that they got off of one the unconscious participants. Later they mugged a nun for a disguise to evade Adelina at the train station, but she sees right through it.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: During the fight on the boat, Mr. Link attempts to save Frost and Adelina from Stenk, but due to his clumsiness and the boat rocking, he instead knocks out Frost and pushes Adelina overboard.
  • No Cartoon Fish: All the animals in the movie have asymmetrical features and oddly shaped limbs, possibly to make the more evenly-proportioned Mr. Link look better to viewers.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Susan avoids attention in public places the entire movie wearing an ill fitting tweed suit while barefoot.
  • Posthumous Character: Aldous Fortnight.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Twice over does Adelina point out to Lionel that he needs to check his ego and think about others for once in his life.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • The death of Sir Aldous Fortnight is treated rather gently, with Adelina truly grieving for her husband. She isn't so easily wooed back into the arms of the self-centered Lionel, not after how her late husband was there for her.
    • Sir Lionel thinks that Link should be able to scale a wall with his long arms and such. But Mr. Link is so clumsy that rather, he crashes though the wall.
    • Ama's baby is a small one, reminding audiences why toddlers and infants are referred as "snot-nosed".
    • When asked a second time if she can take them to Shangri-la, Gamu basically says no and offers to give her adult granddaughter Ama directions so she can lead in her stead. At Gamu's age, she's too infirm to journey through the mountains, much less guide our heroes.
    • When Mr. Link doubts he can throw Lionel out of a pit they are in, the latter replies "Nonsense! Now give it all you've got." How wrong he is.
    • In the case of the Yeti Elder, sometimes, people with cold personalities are just that, cold to the core. They can't always be changed by people who are warm, kind or at least good-mannered.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • Whilst riding in a carriage to Lord Piggot-Dunceby's club, Sir Lionel's carriage splashes mud onto every unfortunate passerby, reflecting Lionel's tendency to step on other people's toes without considering how they feel.
    • The way Sir Lionel and Lord Piggot-Dunceby make their deal next to a roaring fireplace, it gives a whole new meaning to the term "heated discussion".
    • After making a deal with Sir Lionel that he may join the club if he brings proof of a sasquatch, we see Sir Piggot-Dunceby march down a candle-lit hall. While he rants about all the new things that threaten his traditional world (the suffragette movement, electricity, evolution theory), his walking past the candles snuffs out each and every one of them.
    • Casa de Fortnight is behind barred gates, making it feel like Adelina is a bird in a cage. note 
    • After Lord Piggot-Dunceby destroys the bridge to Shangri-la, it rightly represents the Yetis' isolationism coming to a head where they've cut off all ties from the world.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Our heroes travel thousands of miles to reach Shangri-La and unite Mr. Link with his yeti "cousins" so he can belong, only to learn that not only do they not want Mr. Link in their world, but Lionel decides that Mr. Link already found somewhere he could belong: with his friends Lionel and Adelina.
  • The Shangri-La: It is described by Sir Lionel as a magical place where people do not age. Adelina corrects it, saying it's actually a place where people did not evolve, i.e. remained ape-like beasts. They actually find the place, which is inhabited by a tribe of unfriendly yetis.
  • Shout-Out: Inside one of Sir Lionel's desk drawers, there's the "Sleeping Beauty" story book, a doodle of a boxtroll, and a wooden monkey charm.
  • Small Role, Big Impact:
    • Aldous Fortnight has been dead for some time, but his map serves to lead our heroes to their destination, Shangri-La.
    • The prospector Susan who made a difference in Mr. Link's life is only mentioned, never seen on-screen or in some flashback. But her simple kind act of smiling nicely at Mr. Link meant so much to him that he wants to be named after her.
  • Stealth Pun: When Skenk remarks that Lord Piggot-Dunceby won't like the collective bad news that Sir Lionel is alive, still has the Missing Link, and is well on his way to Shangri-La, we Gilligan Cut to a shipping create labeled "nuts". Sure enough, in that same harbor, Lord Piggot-Dunceby is going nuts over his bad luck.
  • The Stinger: The closing credits include a time-lapse clip in which the animators set up the journey that Frost and company make by elephant through the jungles of India, using a combination of hand-built puppetry/sets and CGI. At the end, the Laika production logo morphs to show characters from all five of the studio's films to date.
  • Stock Ness Monster: Sir Lionel attempts to take a photo of the Loch Ness Monster early in the movie, but the creature destroys his camera and almost kills his assistant Mr. Lint.
  • Suggestive Collision: When Lionel and Adelina are having a conversation in her cabin on the boat they are traveling on, the waves cause the ship to list from side to side, causing the two to stumble into each other's arms.
  • Travel Montage: Several of them, with a twist: we see a line on a map each time, but it's actually being drawn by Sir Lionel as his plots the route.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: The film is a charming little story about a Gentle Giant bigfoot and a self-centered but well-intentioned explorer travelling the world to find a home for the former. But their pursuers, the snobbish Politically Incorrect Villain Lord Piggot-Dunceby and the ruthless assassin Willard Stenk, are utterly despicable, going as low as threatening a small child to get a confession out of an old woman.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: Implied. What is Sir Lionel's motivation to joint the Optimates Club despite that its member don't respect him or like him? Why does he want to be one of them? According to Lionel, it's because "they said [he] couldn't."
  • Wham Line: The Elder Yeti's line that Mr. Link doesn't belong in Shangri-la.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: A non-villainous example, where Sir Lionel's (former) assistant Mr. Lint emphasizes "I'm a human being!" and how he's had it up to here with being treated like a servant expected put his life on the line whenever they hunt for a new (possibly dangerous) creature.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: One of the themes of the movie. Adelina eventually has to point out to Sir Lionel that his treatment of Mr. Link is inconsiderate at best and selfish at worst. She recognizes that Mr. Link is a person in his own rights and even urges Sir Lionel to at least offer Link to name himself.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report