Starring: Will Forte, Maya Rudolph, Alessia Cara, Terry Crews, Martin Short, Jane Krakowski, Ricky Gervais, Vincent Tong
OUR RATING: ★★★½
Netflix’s animated comedy directed by Kris Pearn and Cory Evans. The story follows the Willoughby children, who make a sneaky plan to send their selfish parents on vacation as they are convinced that they would be better off raising themselves. The siblings then embark on their own high-flying adventure to find the true meaning of family.
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Our Favorite Quotes:'The best stories are the hard ones.' - The Cat (The Willoughbys) Click To Tweet 'A perfectly imperfect family. And while they didn't get everything they wanted, they got what they needed.' - The Cat (The Willoughbys) Click To Tweet 'Life's a bitter treat without someone sweet to share it with.' - Commander Melanoff (The Willoughbys Trailer) Click To Tweet
The Cat: If you love stories about families that stick together, and love each other through thick and thin, and it all ends happily ever after, this isn’t the film for you, okay?
The Cat: This is my city. I’ve seen it all. Look at them. Boring people living boring lives. I’m not judging. Yeah, I am. I’ve stared into a lot of windows, okay? I’ve seen happy families, supportive families, functional families. Ugh. But the best stories are always in the windows where nobody looks.
The Cat: I’m the narrator, by the way. And a cat. Get over it, yeah?
The Cat: This family’s story is weird. You know, hidden away from the modern world in their old-fashioned home. I’ll show you around. Fantastic mouse hunting here. When I say “old-fashioned”, I mean they go back a long way. A family legacy of tradition, invention, creativity, and courage. Their greatness passed down like their magnificent facial hair from generation, to generation, to generation. Until this one.
[we see Father and Mother kissing]
Father: [to baby Tim] I am your father, and that sweet woman that you insulted with your rude birth is Mother. If you need love, I beg of you, find it elsewhere. Thank you. Oh, you are Tim, and you are a Willoughby. Good day, sir.
The Cat: His loving parents had no love left over for Tim. All they gave him was his name. Oh, and siblings. A sister named Jane, and twin brothers, both named Barnaby. They’re creepy.
The Cat: Okay, this Willoughby story is odd, alright? But it’s not all bad. At least they ate every family meal together. And by “they”, I mean these two.
[we see Father and Mother eating their dinner]
Father: You like it spicy, don’t you?
Mother: Oh, I don’t just like it, I loaf it.
The Cat: They just forgot to share with their kids.
[as Tim spies on his parents eating their dinner]
Tim: I do not predict leftovers.
Jane: But I’m so hungry I just want to eat my own tongue.
Barnaby A: Me too.
Barnaby B: Me too.
Barnaby A & B: Us too.
Tim: May we have food?
Mother: We eat today’s food. You eat yesterday’s food.
Tim: But you ate all of yesterday’s food yesterday.
[pointing to Jane]
Father: It’s that girl! She brought the small one.
Mother: They’re creepy.
Barnaby A & B: Hi, mommy.
Father: [to Tim] Son, you insist on bothering us with your childish needs. Go to the coal bin! Good day, sir.
[as Tim goes to the coal bin]
The Cat: Poor Timothy. That’s a rotten place for a hairless kid in short trousers, ain’t it?
Tim: [to himself] Sometimes, I wish I wasn’t a Willoughby. We used to be great. We were soldiers and scientists, kings and philosophers, explorers and aviators, artists, and poets! We climbed the unclimbable, and we always ate together at tables, like a family, where every Willoughby had a mustache, even the women. We could be great again. No.
[draws a mustache on his upper using a piece of coal]
Tim: We will be.
The Cat: Against all odds, the Willoughby children still had determination, imagination, and hope.
The Cat: Let’s face it. This Willoughby family isn’t great, and by the looks of it, they never will be. Not without a little help. Maybe it was the dark and stormy night. Maybe I’ve looked in one too many windows, but this story got to me. I know, narrators aren’t supposed to get involved, but just a little nudge.
[as she sees a box being placed outside their gate]
Jane: Wow! What a mystery. It’s like we’re in a book!
[as they are approaching the box left outside their gate]
Jane: I’m just going to have a quick look to see if it’s dangerous. If it is, run. Different directions, zigzaggy and stuff. Okay? So it can only eat one of you. Alright.
Barnaby A: What’s this feeling I’m feeling?
Barnaby B: Fear. Fear.
Barnaby A: Definitely fear.
Jane: Remember, twins, zigzaggy.
[the twin turn and run off together as Jane is about to open the gate]
Barnaby A & B: Zigzag. Zigzag. Zigzag.
[referring to the box left outside their gate]
The Cat: I know what you’re thinking, because I’m thinking exactly the same thing, “What’s in the box? And can we empty it so I can sit in it?”
Mother: Father, I love the smell of fresh yarn in the morning.
Mother: [to Father] Harvesting your mustache makes such lovely yarn.
[after they find a baby inside the box that was left outside their gate]
Tim: Where did you get that thing?
Jane: We found her outside, living in a box. She’s an orphan.
Barnaby A: Smells like an orphan.
Barnaby B: Looks like an orphan.
Barnaby A: Got a box like an orphan.
[referring to the baby]
Tim: Jane, you know our parents hate children! And babies are the most childish children of all!
Jane: Well, I love her and nobody’s going to take her away from me.
[as Tim and the twins leave follow Jane to find a home for the baby]
The Cat: I guess it’s hard to leave home for the first time. Although, I was six days old when I left. All my folks ever did for me was lick my eyeballs open, sent me packing.
[referring to Tim]
The Cat: He’ll be alright. Maybe.
[as they arrive at Melanoff’s candy factory]
Jane: Isn’t it wonderful? The perfect home.
The Cat: Usually in old-fashioned stories, rainbows have treasure at the end, don’t they? Not this one.
[naming the baby]
Tim: Her name is Ruth.
Tim: Yes. Because re-orphaning her makes us the ruthless Willoughbys. Now be ruthless and say goodbye.
Jane: Okay. Oh, Ruth. I’ll always know where to find you. At the end of the rainbow.
Jane: I really hope we’re doing the right thing.
Tim: Of course we are, Jane. A great man with a great home must have a great family. Just imagine what that lucky orphan’s life will be like.
Jane: I wish we had a home like Ruth, where you didn’t have to steal food, and nobody would say, “Shut up, Jane!”
Tim: Oh, we would eat at a table like the great Willoughbys of old. Our mustaches would grow long, and no one would ever have to go to the coal bin again, unless they wanted coal.
Jane: What if we became orphans?
Tim: That is your iffiest what-if yet. We have parents!
Barnaby A: Bad parents.
Barnaby B: Terrible parents.
Jane: But what if we didn’t?
Jane: Think about how great our family could be if they were gone!
Tim: Jane, are you seriously suggesting…
Jane: We orphan ourselves! Yes!
Tim: How do you propose we discard of two insidious grownups?
[she points to the butcher, who at that moment hacks some meat]
Tim: [horrified] No!
Jane: No, not there. There!
[she pulls his face to look at the Travel Agency, but Tim sees a man cutting a tree and gasps]
Jane: No! There.
[Tim see the Travel Agency]
[after Jane and Tim decide to send their parents away]
The Cat: I love this plan. Okay, humans, calm down. Don’t get all sensitive. “Ooh! This is bad.” It’s nature. It’ll work out. Look, these kids needed a change. You know? I did warn you this story wasn’t all fluffy and fuzzy.
[as they are creating a travel brochure for their parents]
Tim: We shall craft a murderous adventure that gives our insidious parents exactly what they want.
Jane: To be left alone with their love!
Tim: Precisely. A romantic getaway, hiding deadly orphaning opportunities. If they do not melt in the hottest places on Earth, they shall drown in the wettest. Cannibals will feast,
unless they freeze in glacial ice, or dissolve in fields of acid first. They shall not escape the bears. But if they do, we have saved the deadliest spot for last, the Unclimbable Alp, in Sveetzerlünd.
Jane, Barnaby A & B: He who goes up does not come down.
[referring to the travel brochure]
Mother: What does it say, Fatherkins?
Father: “See the world.”
Mother: See the world?
Father: “Have adventures.”
Mother: I’d love to have an adventure!
Father: You know what else, Mother?
Mother: What, Father?
Father: No children allowed!
Mother: Oh, I would love that.
[referring to Mother and Father]
The Cat: “To adventure.” Are they gullible or what? I mean, I never thought they’d fall for it. Did you?
[as they watch their parents drive off]
The Cat: Well, that was easy.
Father: To adventure!
The Cat: Everyone got what they wanted.
Mother: To adventure!
The Cat: All good. Told you this would work out.
Jane: They’re gone? We did it!
[looking at a painting of one of his ancestors and imagining Edmund is speaking to him]
Edmund: Timothy, you are the man of the house! With great responsibility comes great mustache.
[bursts through the front door]
Barnaby A: Stranger!
Barnaby B: Danger!
Nanny: Fear not, skinny orange boy, for I am your nanny!
Tim: No, I’m in charge!
Jane: I’ve read about nannies. What kind of nanny are you? Did you fly in on the east wind or the west?
Jane: Where’s your umbrella?
Jane: Do you eat children?
Jane: Why are you here?
Nanny: I was hired by your loving parents.
Nanny: I’ve got no qualifications, but a cheery disposition. Here to service all your childish needs. I cook, clean, sing!
Jane: What?! You sing?
Nanny: Yeah! All nannies sing.
Jane: I sing too.
Nanny: What if we sing together?
[referring to the twins]
Nanny: You guys are like little baby Albert Einsteins, but with weirder hair.
[referring to Tim, as she’s the feeding the children]
Nanny: What’s his deal?
Barnaby A: Jealous.
Barnaby B: Definitely jealous.
Jane: Yeah. It’s a classic power struggle.
[referring to his siblings]
Tim: Traitorous Willoughbys. More like Will-not-be’s!
Nanny: [to Tim] I know you miss your old-fashioned parents. Change is hard. I’ve been there. I think maybe you just need to eat.
[after Tim refuses to eat and accidentally throws his oats on Nanny’s face]
Nanny: You disrespect my oats, you disrespect me. I have no choice, but to put you in…
[we then see the coal bin]
Nanny: The coal bin? I was going to say time-out. You know, “I have no choice, but to put you in a time-out.” Why in the world would your parents ever put you in a coal bin?
Tim: Having childish needs.
Barnaby A: Like food.
Barnaby B: Sweaters. Love.
Jane: Oh, taking in an orphan.
[referring to Ruth]
Tim: We got rid of her.
Nanny: What? Back up the abuse caboose. Where did you get rid of a baby?
[Nanny goes goes to get Ruth from Melanoff’s factory]
Nanny: Oh, this is the worst home ever! Poor little orphan.
Tim: We should not be trespassing. Disturbing this great man’s work.
Nanny: What great man?
Nanny: Wait a minute. Commander Melanoff is real?
Commander Melanoff: Um, yes.
Nanny: [chuckles] Wow! That is a, that’s a strong fashion choice. Do you dress like that every day, sir?
Commander Melanoff: I, uh…
Nanny: Are those medals candy?
Commander Melanoff: Uh, maybe.
Nanny: [to Melanoff] Hey! Where’s the orphan, candy man?
[after Nanny rescues Ruth from the candy conveyor belt]
Commander Melanoff: You! Big-haired lady. Give me back my baby!
Nanny: Your baby? I don’t think so, sugar daddy. A nanny knows things, and this nanny knows these messed-up Willoughbys left a baby on your doorstep!
Commander Melanoff: Wait, are you the angels who brought her to me?
Nanny: I wouldn’t call them angels, exactly.
[as suddenly vomits out a rainbow colored liquid]
Commander Melanoff: Oh, my.
Nanny: What are you feeding her?!
[referring to Ruth]
Commander Melanoff: How could something so tiny make so much poop? I haven’t slept in nine days!
Nanny: Oh, that explains a lot.
Commander Melanoff: I called Orphan Services for help, but…
Nanny: Orphan Services? No, you shouldn’t have called them!
Commander Melanoff: Well, I mean, “Find an orphan you don’t know, call…”
Commander Melanoff: Oh-oh?
Nanny: No! Giving a baby to them is like locking a puppy up in a cage.
[referring to Ruth]
Nanny: This factory isn’t baby proofed. She can’t just eat candy for the rest of her life. I mean, next thing you know, she’s going off to college, she could be a doctor. Maybe she’ll write the next Moby Dick, or paint the next Mona Lisa. Fly an airplane to the moon. I mean, she could be the next president. You know? And then you’re going to have to go to the White House, and maybe not wear a candy suit, you know? It’s a lot.
Commander Melanoff: That sounds sweet.
Commander Melanoff: It’s time for this candy man to become a family man, who also makes candy.
Nanny: Well, if you ever need help, you know who to call.
Tim: Oh, the service for orphans.
Nanny: What? No, Skinny Bones! You could call me. You know, I’m a nanny.
[as Melanoff hugs them]
Barnaby A: Is this a hug?
Barnaby B: I don’t know. But I like it.
The Cat: Unfortunately, these Willoughby kids would soon get some disturbing news that their parents were still alive.
[referring to Mother and Father as they manage to survive numerous disasters]
The Cat: They say that love conquers all. It does for these two. How many lives have these cats got?
[after they find out their parents are selling their house]
The Cat: Who could sleep on a night like this? Well, I could, actually. I’m a great sleeper. But these Willoughby kids can’t.
[Tim then calls Orphan Services to report Nanny]
[referring to the potential buyers of the house]
The Cat: Like mice nibbling at the edge of a trap, these hopeful people were about to get caught in the war of the Willoughbys.
Tim: What the Willoughby?
Nanny: Tim, I might work for your parents, but my duty is to look after you guys. I should have told you they were selling the house. I’m sorry. But I just couldn’t bear to break your weird little hearts.
Jane: Oh, thank you, Nanny.
[as Orphan Services enter the house]
Orphan Service Agent: We have reason to believe a bad nanny is harboring orphans.
Tim: As a Willoughby, I demand you leave our home!
Orphan Service Agent: You’re the orphan.
Nanny: No, no, no. They have parents. You leave them alone.
Orphan Service Agent: Linda? Is that you?
Nanny: Uh, yeah.
Nanny: But I’m a nanny now.
Orphan Service Agent: Are you wearing toilet paper again?
Nanny: Yes, I am. But it…
Orphan Service Agent: Oh, you look ridiculous.
Nanny: It’s a costume!
Orphan Service Agent: Once an orphan, always an orphan.
Jane: Nanny? You’re an orphan?
Nanny: No! I mean, I was. I mean, I am.
Orphan Service Agent: We tried to find her a home, but no one ever wanted her.
Jane: That’s not true. We want her.
Nanny: See? They want me.
[after she finds out it was Tim that reported her to Orphan Services]
Nanny: I was just trying to be a good nanny.
Jane: But you are!
Orphan Service Agent: No longer required.
Jane: No, you are required!
Orphan Service Agent: Go, Linda. Before these children hurt you more.
[Nanny runs out, crying]
[as the Orphan Services agents take the children away]
Orphan Service Agent: You will adopt standard childhood experiences. Homes will be allocated. Schools will be assigned. Until your biological parents return, you are officially orphans.
Orphan Service Agent: Have a nice childhood.
The Cat: These poor kids. Alone, scattered, lost. Like me, really.
The Cat: The Barnabys were cared for in a modern home, plugged into the Internet, their little brains flooded with, well, you’ve been on the internet.
The Cat: Jane’s hosts believed in the healing power of music. But Jane’s song was gone. Her what-ifs, no more.
The Cat: Tim resisted change, running away from well-meaning families like the Wilsons, the Walters, the Waddingtons. He wanted his old-fashioned Willoughby life back. But it was gone. No home. No family. Someone’s got to look after him.
[as Tim is confined at the Orphan Services center]
The Cat: It’s tough out there, in the city. Sometimes, you’re the cat. Sometimes, you’re the mouse. At least he’s got a box. Okay, it’s a bit dark, but, uh, you know.
[we see Nanny taking a bus to leave town]
The Cat: Poor Nanny tucked her tail and ran, away from her past. You know, never look back. Of course, it’s nobody’s fault, really. Fine. I’ll stop the bus.
[we see the bus suddenly screach to a stop to avoid hitting the cat]
The Cat: Happy now?
[as Nanny breaks Tim out of Orphan Services disguised a guard named Phil]
Nanny: I’m busting you out.
Tim: I do not deserve this busting you speak of. Leave me, Phil, to my short-panted guilt.
Nanny: Oh, pity party, huh? Guess I didn’t get my invitation.
Nanny: Sure, you screwed up. I screwed up too. I left you kids there alone. I ran away. But I came back, and I’m not leaving here without a Willoughby.
Tim: I’m just a Will-not-be. All I wanted was to be a great Willoughby with a great family.
[Nanny suddent hits him with his pillow]
Nanny: Are you saying Jane’s not great?
Nanny: Barnaby A’s not great?
Nanny: Barnaby B’s not great?
Nanny: You’re not great?
Tim: Okay, okay! I get it! Stop!
Nanny: Look, Skinny Bones, you have a family. They need you, and you need them.
[Nanny holds up Tim’s helmet]
Tim: My head protector.
Nanny: Let’s blow this pop stand and do something great, bro-bro.
Tim: Let us get blowing, brother-brother.
[as they are being chased by the Orphan Service Agents]
Tim: Nanny, the gate!
Nanny: Gate, schmate. Phil ain’t no sheep!
[after Tim and Nanny and collect the siblings]
Tim: We’re not the Willoughbys without your what-ifs.
Tim: What if I say I am sorry?
Jane: What if you did?
Tim: What if you accept my apology?
Jane: What if you stop telling me what to do?
Tim: What if you stop getting me into trouble and stuck in a coal bin while you get to play with orphans and eat meatloaf?
Jane: I accept your apology.
[after Tim declares they have to get their parents back]
Nanny: But you guys have bad parents!
Tim: Yes, I know they’re despicable. But they’re the only ones we’ve got. Look, the Orphan Service lady said that if our biological parents return, we can stay together. We have to get them back.
Jane: Well, we do know where they’re heading. Sveetzerlünd.
Barnaby A: He who goes up…
Barnaby B: Does not come down.
[referring to Mother and Father]
The Cat: How could such clever kids come from these two? I mean, this is Darwinism at work, isn’t it? Do we really have to save them?
[as they watch Nanny, Melanoff and Ruthie bonding]
Tim: It’s almost like…
Jane: They’re a family.
Jane: Guys, do you think Nanny will be mad we snuck out and ran off with the dirigible and stole her phone?
Barnaby A & B: And her purse.
Tim: Oh, she is definitely mad. But we orphaned ourselves! We will unorphan ourselves.
The Cat: As these Willoughbys flew east towards the sunrise, I’m just along for the ride, in this cone. I told you this story would be exciting. Will they reach their parents in time? Don’t know. I’m in a cone!
[to the gas attendant a she rushes past him]
Jane: Good morning, we’re going to stop our parents from killing themselves. Bye!
[as he watches the candy-fueled dirigible take flight]
Gas Attendant: Yeah! Nice!
[as they’re following their parents trail to the top of the mountain]
Jane: Ice to see you.
Tim: [laughs] Great pun, Jane.
[after they find their parents nearly frozen to death, but still kissing]
Jane: Their kiss, it’s still warm!
Tim: We have come to your rescue.
Mother: Rescue? Us?
Father: But how?
Jane: We knew where you were going.
Tim: We sent you away.
Barnaby A & B: The Reprehensible Travel Agency.
Mother: The brochure?
Father: Mother’s balls! This was you?
Jane: We wanted, um, to orphan ourselves.
Barnaby A: But we were wrong.
Barnaby B: Very wrong.
Father: Oh, my.
[to their parents]
Tim: Look, we are not a perfect family. We’re not even a good family. But you need us to get down this alp, and once we’re down there, we need you so that we can all stay together. You don’t have to love us, but will thou be our parents, again?
Jane, Tim, Barnaby A & B: Please.
[after the kids plead to them to be their parents again]
Mother: Oh, Father, maybe we were wrong. We can do better.
Father: Shall we? For love.
Mother: For love.
[as they approach the kids with open arms, they suddenly shove them aside]
Father: Get out of my way!
[as they run towards the candy-fueled dirigible]
Father: Would you look at that machine?
Mother: Oh, I do love to fly.
Father: Run, Mother! Run as fast as you can!
The Cat: I did not see that one coming.
[after they abandon the children and take the dirigible]
Father: Mother, where did you learn to drive?
Mother: I thought you were driving, darling.
The Cat: Unfortunately, the Willoughby parents remained thoroughly…
Mother: What do these pedals do?
The Cat: …incredibly, and utterly selfish.
Father: Oh, dear.
[they fly out of control and crash]
[after they watch their parents crash in the dirigible]
Jane: Any chance they survived that?
Tim: I don’t think so.
The Cat: Oh, no. All the determination, imagination. Doesn’t matter how good you are, does it? The world can be a pretty cold place.
[as the children are alone and prepare to succumb to the cold]
The Cat: Oh, tragic. But remember, this is an old-fashioned story, and as such, it can’t end like this, can it?
[we then see them being rescued by Nanny, Melanoff, and Ruth]
[after Nanny, Melanoff, and Ruth rescue the children]
Nanny: Speaking of folks, where are they? I want to tell them how great their kids are.
Barnaby A: They stole our dandy dirigible.
Barnaby B: We have really bad parents.
Jane: You mean had.
Tim: We’re orphans. For real.
Commander Melanoff: Oh.
Barnaby A: No parents.
Barnaby B: No home.
Barnaby A: No place to go.
Jane: We’ve lost it all.
Tim: But we have each other.
Tim: Look, we sailed a candy dirigible over an ocean. Climbed the unclimbable.
Barnaby A: We didn’t actually climb.
Barnaby B: I know, but it’s a nice speech.
Tim: So as long as we stick together, we’ll be okay. With or without parents.
[to Nanny, Melanoff, and Ruth]
Jane: What if…
Tim: We became a family?
Barnaby A & B: Hi, mommy.
Nanny: I’m all in!
[she picks the kids up and hugs them]
Commander Melanoff: Diddly-dee! Same with me!
[he then picks Nanny and the kids up and hugs them]
Nanny: Commander, get us out of here. It’s too cold to be mushy.
Commander Melanoff: Grandy dandy!
[as the’s flying them off the mountain]
Nanny: Why aren’t we using the helicopter?
Commander Melanoff: We don’t need no helicopters! We’re family!
The Cat: Okay, it’s a bit weird, alright? But we got there in the end. Determination, imagination, hope. Told you I know a good story when I see one. The best stories are the hard ones, you know?
[after they’ve been adopted and are living in the candy factory]
Tim: Hmm. It’s not bushy.
[we see Jane is growing a mustache but not Tim]
Jane: Still, it is a mustache. I think we know what that means, right, Tim?
Tim: We’re not doing the great thing anymore, since that happened.
[we see the twins have grown full bushy mustaches]
Barnaby A: Mustache.
[as we see the children, Nanny, Melanoff, and Ruth become a loving family]
The Cat: Look at them, a perfectly imperfect family. And while they didn’t get everything they wanted, they got what they needed. I guess we all need love. Even me. See? They all lived happily ever after. Which is more than I can say for, you know.
[we see Mother and Father survived the crash and are stranded in the middle of the ocean]
Mother: Oh, mushy buns, I do love seeing the world with you. Even the wet bits.
Father: Nothing will stop us from adventuring, Mother.
[as they kiss a shark jumps out and devours them]
Father: Oh, dear.
[post-credits lines; we see the cat cleaning himself when he notices the audience]
The Cat: What? Don’t look at me like that. It’s not disgusting. That is how I wash. Everything.
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