Phil Stafford /

Danny DeVito is one of the most recognizable faces in the comedy world, and as a father, one of his greatest passions is lending his talents to his family-friendly entertainment, particularly animated movies that resonate with children. In an interview with The Christian Post, the 79-year-old father of three reminisced about his roles in “My Little Pony” and “Hercules,” explicitly chosen for his kids, and his directional work on “Matilda,” inspired by his daughter’s love for the book.

DeVito said, “I started out doing ‘My Little Pony’ because my kid was born like 40 years ago, and she loved ‘My Little Pony.’ I went and did the voice in that. And then I did ‘Hercules’ because I wanted my kids to hear my voice coming out of these various and crazy characters. And then when ‘The Lorax’ came along, that was perfect; they were a little older. It’s a fun thing to go to a movie theater and sit with an audience, especially if there are kids.”

He continued, “When I sit there, instead of watching the movie, I sit and watch the kids. There’s so much joy. It’s like the first time I took my kid to see ‘Peter Pan.’ My daughter Lucy was a kid sitting on the edge of her seat, just mesmerized when that window opened and Peter Pan flew through the window. That’s the stuff. That’s why we do it.” The Emmy-winning actor is now lending his talents to “Migration,” the new animated film from Illumination. Rated PG, the film features the vocal talents of DeVito, Kumail Nanjiani, Keegan-Michael Key, Awkwafina, Elizabeth Banks and others.

“Migration” follows a family of mallards who try to convince their overprotective father to go on the vacation of a lifetime. They attempt to migrate from New England through New York City to Jamaica. Along the way, the ducks must overcome numerous obstacles, including unfriendly birds, thunderstorms and other unexpected hazards. Throughout the journey, the ducks accomplish more than they ever thought possible, overcome their fears and learn the importance of family. The animated film is from the studio behind such comedic family movies as “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” “Minions,” “Despicable Me,” “Sing,” and “The Secret Life of Pets.”

DeVito stars as Uncle Dan, the curmudgeonly and adventure-averse uncle who isn’t afraid to share his opinions with his family — and anyone who will listen. DeVito said, “Uncle Dan is a tough character. He’s kind of stuck in the mud, in a way. But it’s good fun. And I know the kids love it.” Though a comedy, “Migration” includes deeper themes, including courage, perseverance and prioritizing family over all else. Director Benjamin Renner said he made sure to avoid “lazy” jokes in the film so that the viewing experience would be uplifting and enjoyable for the whole family.

DeVito said this desire to make a family-friendly, thoughtful film contributed to the depth of “Migration,” in addition to its more profound subject matters. He said, “The idea is it’s not a joke movie. The funny stuff comes out of the fact that it doesn’t have to be always a punch line; it has to be something that you relate to the audience, you and the kids, and the funny. I think all of those things were touched on in ‘Migration.'”

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