Hi, everyone! Welcome to Greta’s Junkyard — a blog I started in 2013 that serves as a dump of my favorite things. This includes topics on beauty, fashion, travel, and lifestyle. Sometimes, it also contains snippets of my life as well as milestones! My name is Gretchen Gatan Fragada and I’m a writer and editor based in Metro Manila. I’m a wife to Cayo, a fur mom to Booboo and Bellatrix, and a first-time mom to a toddler daughter named Cambria. Recently, we were invited to the special screening of Illumination’s Migration at SM Megamall. It was also Cambria’s first-ever movie to watch at a movie house!
The Colorful Characters and Talented Voice Cast of Illumination’s Migration
The talented cast of Kumail Nanjiani, Tresi Gazal, Elizabeth Banks, and Caspar Jennings voice the Mallards in Illumination’s Migration. “We tried to find actors that were somewhat like their roles,” shares director Benjamin Renner. “That was great because we could ask them to share experiences and adlib with their performances.”
Mack (Kumail Nanjiani)
Mack is the overly cautious patriarch of the Mallard family. He harbors irrational fears of the outside world and insists the family stay in the safe confines of their pond. His anxieties and worldview are tested when, at the insistence of his wife, Pam, he embarks on an adventure alongside his family. Mack is voiced by Oscar® nominee Kumail Nanjiani, who infused a touch of himself into the character. “I’ve seen some of Kumail’s stand-up shows where he displays a similar demeanor to Mack,” Renner says. “He brings a sense of skepticism and a protective outlook to the character.
Kumail’s brilliant performance not only captured Mack’s essence but also infused humor through the clever lines he contributed. He was able to make Mack a compelling and relatable character, fully convincing us of his journey filled with moments of reluctance.”
Pam (Elizabeth Banks)
Pam is the daring, open-minded, level-headed and quick-witted natural leader of the Mallard family. She constantly sticks up for the children and wants to see them grow and experience life beyond the comfort of their pond. The role is voiced by Emmy nominee Elizabeth Banks, who was initially drawn to Pam’s incredible spirit. “I was totally free to improvise,” says Banks. “We had a great script, but then we also got to play. I imagined how I spoke to my kids, which made it familiar territory to me. And what’s great about animation is how they are capable of working on
the timing, helping you craft the joke. You almost give them raw materials to play with, and then it’s fun to see how it ends up on screen after the fact.”
Director Benjamin Renner knew Banks was the perfect fit for the role of Pam. “From the moment she entered the recording booth with her infectious laughter, I knew she would bring so much to the character,” Renner says. “She nailed it effortlessly, sometimes leaving me feeling useless as a director because she delivered her lines flawlessly. It was so effortless and fun working with her.”
Dax (Caspar Jennings)
Dax, the son and oldest child of Mack and Pam, is on the edge of adolescence and yearns to be independent. He is thrilled that his family is finally leaving home and going somewhere new. He leaps at any chance to be the hero, only to be reeled back in by his overprotective dad. The role is voiced by Caspar Jennings, the son of Garth Jennings, who directed the “Sing” franchise for Illumination.
“Dax’s character was a joy to bring to life,” Renner says. “As the elder child of Mack and Pam, Dax represents that pivotal stage on the edge of adolescence, where the desire for independence clashes with the safety of the familiar. Caspar amazed us with his talent and versatility. He skillfully captured the essence of Dax’s adventurous spirit and yearning for heroism, while also portraying the vulnerability of a young bird held back by his overprotective father.”
Gwen (Tresi Gazal)
Gwen is the daughter and youngest member of the Mallard family. She’s a duckling that’s as impressionable as she is adorable. Her sweetness and wide-eyed naivety occasionally land the family in less-than-ideal situations, but she also inspires her family to accomplish things they never thought possible. The character is voiced by Tresi Gazal, the daughter of the film’s editor, Christian Gazal.
The character of Gwen also proved to be a helpful tool for the filmmakers in terms of the film’s narrative. “Whenever we had an issue with a sequence, we would find a way to make Gwen come in and make the scene hilarious or fun,” says the director. “I love movies that depict children as weird because children are weird. Being a weird kid myself, I find their oddness funny.”
Uncle Dan (Danny DeVito)
Uncle Dan, a curmudgeon to the core, lives by one simple philosophy: No one can tell you what to do if there’s no one in your life. His lonely bachelor life acts as the cautionary tale that convinces Mack to give his family the adventure they’ve always wanted. Uncle Dan is voiced by Emmy-winning comedy icon and Oscar® nominee Danny DeVito. Shares Banks, “I remember being in the booth one day recording my character when I got to hear a Danny DeVito line, and I burst out laughing. I couldn’t believe how his dry sense of humor just undercut anything that was going on. It was perfect! His performance is obviously one of my favorites in the movie.”
DeVito’s performance was also a highlight for director Renner. “Danny just wants to make you laugh and will not quit until he achieves it,” says Renner. “Of course, you can’t use everything that comes out of his mouth in a family movie, but it’s great to be around someone like him who only wants to make people happy and share those emotions with the audience. Working with Danny DeVito has been one of the best experiences of my life.”
Chump, portrayed by Golden Globe winner Awkwafina, is the scrappy and streetwise leader of a rag-tag band of New York City pigeons. Chump’s first interaction with the Mallards involves a duck vs. pigeon misunderstanding, but after tensions settle, Chump vows to help the wayward Mallards by personally introducing them to a friend who will show them the way to Jamaica.
As is the case with all her roles, Awkwafina’s infectious energy shone through during the voice recording sessions. “She brought her unique personality to the character,” Renner says. “Working with her was effortless and enjoyable. She contributed ideas and brought a lot of comedy to the role. The collaborative process and the freedom to adlib allowed us to build the character together.”
Delroy (Keegan-Michael Key)
Delroy, voiced by Emmy winner Keegan-Michael Key, is a rare Jamaican parrot who has been captured and caged by a hot-blooded chef. He’s introduced to the Mallard family who are desperately in need of directions to Jamaica, Delroy’s sorely missed homeland.
Key embraced the director’s vision for the role. “Keegan-Michael has incredible energy and brings a strong presence to the film,” Renner says. “His volume, energy, and Jamaican accent matched perfectly with the character. His commitment and performance were exceptional.”
Cambria’s Experience Watching Illumination’s Migration
Since Cambria just turned two years old last December, I wasn’t sure if she would stay throughout the film. However, to our surprise, she did! And what made it even more memorable was that she laughed and engaged with the movie. She understood when the birds were in trouble and would say, “Oh no!”
She also became drawn towards Delroy — perhaps because of his red feathers. Red happens to be Cambria’s favorite color. It was such a fun and eye-opening experience for our little family! It made us realize we can start watching children’s movies together at the cinemas.
Be sure to catch Illumination’s Migration with your family and loved ones when it lands in cinemas on January 17, 2024! Also, I hope you can follow me on Facebook and Instagram at @gretchengatan to stay updated on new posts and articles. Until the next one!