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"I Can't Knit": New Netflix Animated Comedy "The Willoughbys" Will Have You in Stitches

Ironically, if you're looking for a feel-good, unexpectedly funny and charming movie to watch with the kids while you safely quarantine at home, look no farther than The Willoughbys (2020). (It'll become clear after you watch it why it's ironic, LOL!)

Written by Kris Pearn and Mark Stanleigh, The Willoughbys, which is based on the 2008 novel of the same name, by Lois Lowry, and which premiered on Netflix on April 22, tells the tale of the youngest generation of Willoughbys, Tim, Jane and Barnaby A & B, and their plight to orphan themselves from their neglectful parents, Mother and Father, and find a more loving home.

Narrated by a blue cat, who couldn't have been voiced by anyone more fitting than Ricky Gervais, The Office (UK Series) (2001-2003), The Willoughbys offers loads of laughs, taking audiences on a journey of fun and funny highs, and heartbreaking lows. At its core, the story is a sad one, of four neglected children, who want nothing more than the basic needs from their parents: to be seen, heard, nurtured and loved.

I've watched the film three times, so far, and it STILL gets me every, single time! It's so smart, witty and hilariously funny, filled with zingers flying in from left and right and it hit Netflix just in time for the world to be under quarantine. (I don't know if that was planned -- if it was, the cast and crew did a superb job putting it all together in just two months -- but it truly is perfect timing!) With such an eclectic and talented cast, this movie could have very well been on the big screen! But, I'm glad it's on Netflix so I can pause and rewind my favourite moments!

Youngsters will be fascinated by all the bright colours, the music, the singing, the adventure and being able to see themselves in these characters; but I think the parents and adults may end up being more invested than the kids, LOL! The jokes will probably go over kids' head, and parents may find themselves rooting for the Willoughby children, as opposed to their parents, making parents want to hug their children just a little tighter. The film may also put a spark in a loving family to seek adoption as their next step.

Filled with shocking twists and turns, and an ending that I (and the cat) surely didn't see coming, The Willoughbys promises a fun ride filled with laughs, tears, triumphs, heart and family, however the latter may look to you!


The film stars:

The Last Man On Earth's (2015-2018) Will Forte as Tim, the eldest of the Willoughby children. He was thrown out of his mother's and father's bedroom by his father, Father, voiced by Martin Short, Father of the Bride (1991) & it's 1995 sequel, immediately upon birth, and tossed into the coal bin to fend for himself. Although he tries to put on a tough demeanor, underneath it all, he is, quite literally, a hungry child, who's starved of food (nicknamed "Skinny Bones" by their nanny, Nanny, voiced by SNL (2000-2007; 2008-present) star Maya Rudolph) and love, while simultaneously trying to uphold the honor that comes with being a Willoughby.

"Here" (2015) and "Scars to Your Beautiful" (2016) singer, Alessia Cara, in her first acting role as Jane, the fearless, yet unseen/invisible middle child, who loves to sing but whose singing is a distraction to her mother, Mother, voiced by 30 Rock's (2006-2013) Jane Krakowski, who constantly complains that she "can't knit". (I'd just like to point out that Short, as Father, delivers the funniest line in the entire movie, in my opinion, "If she MISSES a STITCH!" It's so short and simple, and most kids may never understand it, but the adults who watch it will, and if they know true comedy, will crack up every time they hear it! I know I sure do!)

Seán Cullen, Seven Little Monsters (2000-2003), who voices the youngest Willoughbys, twin boys, both named Barnaby (who are later identified as Barnaby A & Barnaby B by Nanny). They are intelligent but don't talk much, only speaking in one-word phrases and sentences when they do, and they take turns sharing one sweater (even though Mother is constantly knitting). 

White Chicks (2004) breakout star and current star of Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013-present), Terry Crews, as Commander Melanoff, the owner and manufacturer of the Melanoff candy brand. Contrary to his large stature and powerful voice, he has an ooey-gooey heart, and welcomes the idea of starting a family, when Nanny arrives to retrieve Baby Ruth, voiced by Dinosaur Train's (2009-2019) Brian Drummond, after Jane, Tim and the Barnabys dropped her off at Melanoff's doorstep, after she was dropped off at their gate.


Director: Kris Pearn with Cory Evans as pre-production co-director and Rob Lodermeier as co-director.

Cast: Will Forte, Martin Short, Jane Krakowski, Alessia Cara, Seán Cullen, Maya Rudolph, Terry Crews, Brian Drummond. Additional voices by: Fiona Toth, Michael Dobson, Nancy Robertson, Kathleen Barr, Kiefer Bahrich, Islie Hirvonen, Colleen Wheeler, Bonnie Riley, Alistair Abell, Caitlyn Bairstow, Emily Delahunty, Paul Dobson, Jordan Hemsley, Cole Howard, Eliza Norbury, Rondel Reynoldson, Cristina Rosato, Laird Scabar and Jason Simpson.

Genre: Computer-animated comedy

Premiered: April 22, 2020 on Netflix


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