Elizabeth Banks and Kumail Nanjiani talk about what they love about Illumination's adventure-packed new original comedy "Migration"

For both Elizabeth Banks and Kumain Nanjiani, joining the voice cast of “Migration,” Illumination’s new original comedy, was a no-brainer. 

“Migration” tells the story of a duck family that takes flight into the thrill of the unknown with a funny, feathered family vacation like no other. While dad Mack (voiced by Nanjiani) is content to keep his family, the Mallards, safe paddling around their New England pond forever, mom Pam (Banks) is eager to shake things up and show their kids – teen son Dax (Caspar Jennings) and duckling daughter Gwen (Tresi Gazal) – the whole wide world. After a migrating duck family alights on their pond with thrilling tales of far-flung places, Pam persuades Mack to embark on a family trip, via New York City, to tropical Jamaica. 

But as the Mallards make their way South for the winter, their well-laid plans quickly go awry. The experience will inspire them to expand their horizons, open themselves up to new friends and accomplish more than they ever thought possible, while teaching them more about each other – and themselves – than they ever imagined. 

An adventure for the entire family…

Nanjiani joined the movie because he felt that the film is something that families can enjoy together. “I just thought that, at its base, ‘Migration’ was a really good family movie,” he says. “And I felt that we are at a time when films like this, that are for everybody, just don’t get made anymore.”

Plus, it didn’t hurt that he got to work with people he admired! “To be able to work with [Illumination founder and CEO] Chris Meledandri, [writer] Mike White and Elizabeth Banks was very exciting to me,” continues Nanjiani. “Then Awkwafina, Keegan Michael-Key and Danny DeVito got cast, which was a great bonus that I hadn’t expected, but the main reason I wanted to do it was because I felt it was a movie everyone could enjoy.”

Banks was also excited to be part of the Illumination family because of the studio’s previous works – especially because they are movies that everyone can enjoy. “I wanted to be a part of ‘Migration’ because I think Chris Meledandri is a genius and Illumination films speak for themselves,” says Banks. “They are all just incredibly distinct, so I knew ‘Migration’ would be really funny and subversive, and that it would be both for kids and adults.” 

… that’s also a love story! 

Family dynamics aside, also at the heart of the movie is the relationship between couple Mack and Pam, whose philosophies about how best to live life happen to be polar opposites. 

Says Nanjiani, “I think Mack is proven right in that there is a lot of danger out there, but Pam is also right about the need to step outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself. They really learn from each other, and I believe that most great movies with two main characters are about that – about completing each other. So, I find ‘Migration to also be a romantic story with parts where I get emotional because it’s about a husband and wife finding ways to reconnect and rediscover their passion for each other. It’s truly about two people who love each other, falling in love again.”

Banks agrees and adds that the adventure the Mallards go on is the key to Mack and Pam achieving a balance. “I believe the story is about that sense of adventure as much as it is about this couple truly connecting and leaving the sort of humdrum of daily life,” she says. “And almost in the style of ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith,’ their adventure brings out the notion of them having to work together to solve the problems they will encounter along the way. There is a real tango in the film to achieve that because I feel they have become a bit disconnected. One of the things I most enjoyed about the film is that I think a lot of couples will see themselves in this movie, apart from the family adventure.”

A life-affirming message

Apart from bringing joy to audiences, Banks also points to the movie’s message as an inspiration. “I also wanted to be a part of a movie that had this message about shaking ourselves out of our nest and getting back out into the world, showing how necessary adventure is for the soul – especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, which is when we made the bulk of the film,” she shares. “I truly believe in the message of this film. I love it!”

Nanjiani agrees. “This film talks about the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone and living your life, and also about how relationships and families have to keep evolving,” he says. “Here we see that even though this couple has been together for many years, they end in a new place.”

And just as important, the film is visually stunning and fun to watch. “Migration is so fun!” says Nanjiani. “And it truly is a gorgeous movie.”

Watch “Migration” with your family and loved ones when it lands in Philippine cinemas January 17, 2024, from Universal Pictures International. #MigrationMovie

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