The latest stop motion animated film from Laika Studios lacks the originality of its other works

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Laika, the animation studio behind "Coraline," "ParaNorman" and "Kubo and the Two Strings," has made its name by being a step ahead and a cut above Hollywood's competing animation houses. 

While painstakingly detailed and often visually breathtaking, the broad adventure-comedy "Missing Link" — which is much more mainstream-leaning than Laika's previous offerings — is missing something.  

It could be due to the casting of Zach Galifianakis as Susan, the yeti at the center of this tale of inter-species friendship and understanding. Sure, Galifianakis is the last voice you'd expect to hear coming from a bigfoot, and that's the joke, but it's not a good enough joke to sustain the character or the film.  

If the script had more up its sleeve it might not be as big of a problem, but "Missing Link" plays things straightforward, which is also to its detriment.  

Hugh Jackman voices Sir Lionel Frost, an adventurer in search of monsters and myths; when we meet him at the opening of the film, he's tracking down the Loch Ness Monster. If he acquires proof of the existence of these rare beings, he'll be accepted by the hoity-toity society types he aims to please, or so he thinks, which leads him to track down the bigfoot, who himself just wants to find his way home to Shangri-La. We all just want to be loved and accepted. 

Writer-director Chris Butler ("ParaNorman") seems to be dumbing down; there's a weirder tale in here looking to let loose. The minute details of the stop-motion animation make "Missing Link" come alive, but Laika films need to let their freak flag fly. "Missing Link" is only at half-staff. 

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

'Missing Link'

GRADE: C+

Rated PG: for action/peril and some mild rude humor

Running time: 95 minutes

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