Director Benjamin Renner held a specific rule while creating his latest animated feature, “Migration”: No fart jokes. Renner, known for his Oscar-nominated film “Ernest et Célestine,” applies this rule to maintain a family-friendly and universally enjoyable tone. In an interview with EW, he shares his commitment to crafting gags that resonate with all ages.
Renner, a French director with a preference for hand-drawn animation, was initially surprised when Illumination chief Chris Meledandri expressed interest in him for “Migration.” The studio is known for 3D animation like “Minions” and “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” However, Renner and Meledandri shared a vision for the action-packed comedy, leading to their collaboration.
“Migration” follows a charming family of unconventional ducks, voiced by Elizabeth Banks, Tresi Gazal, and Caspar Jennings, trying to persuade their overprotective father (Kumail Nanjiani) to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. The ensemble cast includes Danny DeVito, Awkwafina, Carol Kane, Keegan-Michael Key, and more. Renner describes the film as a duck version of “Little Miss Sunshine,” emphasizing the theme of familial cooperation.
Writer Mike White, known for “The White Lotus,” explains that the film utilizes a “comedic fantasy landscape” to explore themes of curiosity, adventure, growth, and the accompanying anxieties. Contrary to some other Illumination movies, White suggests that “Migration” has poetic elements and parental themes that transcend the typical children’s movie, while still appealing to kids with its visual zaniness.
The cast’s vocal talents contribute to the film’s vibrancy, with Renner praising Elizabeth Banks for bringing ideas and energy to her character. White compares Kumail Nanjiani’s delivery to a “Jack Lemmon quality,” describing him as an everyday man with a comic neurotic energy.
As for “Big Duck Energy” (BDE), White humorously attributes it to Danny DeVito, highlighting the actor’s improvisational skills during recording sessions. Originally scheduled for a summer release, “Migration” will now land in theaters on Dec. 22, aligning serendipitously with its theme of the importance of home and family during the holidays. White underscores the message that “a home is where your family is,” emphasizing the significance of shared experiences over location.