Freeze Frame: “Missing Link” (PG), “Little” (PG-13)

Yes, the laborious stop-motion animation technique still has a place in a world dominated by CGI cinema. “Missing Link” is a visual treat from the folks at Laika Studios. Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana and Zach Galifianakis provide the voices in this comic tale about a big-headed Victorian explorer who discovers and befriends a big-footed sasquatch. The mildly amusing storyline is very slight and will soon evaporate from your memory, but the plush textures of the images help make up for the movie’s narrative weaknesses. A strong script is the only thing missing in “Missing Link.”

I was really rooting for “Little,” a movie that flips the script on the Tom Hanks classic, “Big.” Marsai Martin from TV’s “Blackish” stars as the nasty, selfish founder of a high-tech firm who is magically transformed into the body of her 13-year-old self. She learns some valuable lessons, relying on her assistant Issa Rae and returning to the hard knocks of middle school. This comic fantasy has some strange lapses that play like some crucial scenes were left on the cutting room floor. And dividing the story between the two leads diminishes the story’s impact. Still, Rae is likable and Martin is a force of nature.

Also opening this week, “Hellboy!” is a reboot of Mike Mignola’s violent comic book film series. “Slut in a Good Way” is a French-Canadian teen comedy. “After” is a romantic drama based on a Wattpad bestseller. “Mia and the White Lion” is an English language French production of a children’s story, about a young woman’s attempt to save a rare white lion. Joaquin Phoenix plays Jesus and Rooney Mara is his ardent follower in the Biblical epic, “Mary Magdalene.” “Boo!” is a horror flick about a suburban family’s battle with a supernatural force.

The 23rd annual Kansas City Film Festival International takes place April 10th – 14th at the Cinemark Palace on the Plaza. Information on all of the movies and events is available at