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Illumination's ‘Migration’ Is a Heartwarming Tale of Family and Courage, Director Says

Michael Foust | Crosswalk Headlines Contributor | Updated: Dec 15, 2023
Illumination's ‘Migration’ Is a Heartwarming Tale of Family and Courage, Director Says

Illumination's ‘Migration’ Is a Heartwarming Tale of Family and Courage, Director Says

The newest family-friendly movie from Illumination may sound like a fictional tale, but the film’s director says it’s based on real-life events … sort of.

Migration (PG), which opens in theaters Dec. 22, follows the story of a Mallard family -- dad Mack, mom Pam, and their two kids, son Dax and daughter Gwen -- who venture out on the first migration of their lives. Up until that point, the father had been reluctant to migrate, believing it to be too dangerous.

Illumination is the same animation studio that produced the Despicable Me, Minions, Sing, and The Secret Life of Pets franchises. Illumination also was behind Super Mario Bros.

Co-director Benjamin Renner said Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri contacted him about the idea after reading a story about real-world ducks who no longer migrate.  

“Some of them stopped migrating because of global warming,” Renner told Christian Headlines. “Winters are getting more and more warmer, so some ducks decide, ‘I don't have to migrate. Actually, I'm good here.’ 

“They don't have to go through the effort of going on a trip that might kill them, you know because migration actually is quite dangerous for birds.”

The real-world story about ducks who no longer migrate, Renner added, formed the framework of a story that has a solid message for parents and children alike. 

Migration, he said, is a “very human relatable story of a couple where the husband” believes “he can make his family happy in this little paradise ... and he's in his comfort zone and everything.” The mallard wife “is saying, ‘We need to challenge life -- that's how life should be lived.’” 

The movie challenges viewers to be courageous and step out of their comfort zone, Renner said. The film also showcases a loving family composed of parents and children who support one another.  

It stars Kumail Nanjiani as Mack, Elizabeth Banks as Pam, Caspar Jennings as Dax, Tresi Gazal as Gwen, Danny DeVito as Uncle Dan, and Awkwafina as a pigeon named Chump.

Migration is rated PG for action/peril and mild rude humor. 

Photo Courtesy: Illumination 

Video Courtesy: Illumination via YouTube


Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.



Illumination's ‘Migration’ Is a Heartwarming Tale of Family and Courage, Director Says