Netflix’s The Willoughbys Review: One of the Worst Movies of 2020?

After half a decade in development, The Willoughbys has finally been released on Netflix. But was it worth it, or was Lois Lowry's tale better as a book?
the willoughbys review

The Willoughbys was announced all the way back in 2015 and just now finally released in 2020. What took so long, you may ask? Well, Bron Studios had some trouble finding a distributor for the film – eventually landing on one in 2017. Watching the film may explain why distribution was in question.

The film is about a group of kids convinced they’d be better off raising themselves. The Willoughbys are children who hatch a sneaky plan to send their selfish parents on vacation, then decide to embark on their own high-flying adventure to find the true meaning of family.


While this may seem like a pretty generic plot for an animated movie, this movie is anything but normal. Viewers can expect to be pleased with a creative approach to the film’s animation style, but otherwise the story is at best a poor attempt at an animated Mary Poppins ripoff.


the willoughbys 2020

The movie can’t seem to decide whether or not it wants to have the most generic plot possible, or one that is so bizarre I find it almost impossible to explain to other people.

The majority of the movie, as stated earlier, is about the Willoughby children hatching up a plan to send their parents on vacation. Without getting into spoiler territory, the kid’s plan is borderline cruel and evil. In fact, I was shocked to see a kids’ movie take such a dark turn.

The Willoughbys also seems to imply that being an orphan is inherently a bad thing, and the evil agency who takes up orphans and makes it their goal to give kids mediocre to bad lives is truly bleak. If you are a parent reading this review, I would definitely steer away from showing this film to their kids as I feel this movie encourages kids to make poor decisions and gives a muddled stance on what it means to be an orphan.

Ricky Gervais’ portrayal of the film’s feline narrator was definitely a highlight, as was the film’s animation and soundtrack. The same can’t be said for the rest of the film, however, and I definitely would not recommend you watch The Willoughbys. And in a time where there aren’t exactly any other films releasing to choose from, that’s definitely saying something.

The Willoughbys releases on Netflix April 22 with a runtime of 92 minutes with a rating of TV-Y7.


Picture of Bryce West

Bryce West

Bryce West is a writer/producer and a grad student at the University of Southern Indiana. West created his first television program at the age of 18 titled, The Film Reel. The Film Reel is a movie and TV talk show that has ran from 2019-present on News Channel 15 in Mt. Carmel, IL.