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Making Friends is an 2022 American 3D computer-animated/traditionally-animated comedy-drama film produced by Sony Pictures Animation, Aleka Entertainment, and Scholastic Entertainment, and distributed by Columbia Pictures. Based on Kristen Gudsnuk's graphic novels of the same name, the film was directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and written by Lord & Miller, Karey Kirkpatrick, and Kristen Gudsnuk. The film revolves around a girl named Danielle, who is struggling to make friends, before she stumbles across a magic sketchbook that lets whatever is drawn inside of it come to life. After creating a friend with it, She has to deal with the problems that come with creating a magic friend, as well as having one of the creations try to take over her town.
The rights to Gudsnuk's book were purchased by Aleka in 2018, shortly after the book came out. Sony Pictures Animation later won a bidding war against Universal and Paramount to produce the film. They began active development of the film in 2019 with Phil Lord and Christopher Miller attached as directors.
The film premiered in Los Angeles on July 25, and was released in the United States six days later on July 31 by Sony Pictures Releasing under its Columbia Pictures label. It earned over $496 million worldwide on a budget of $90 million at the box office. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised its blend of 2D and 3D animation, humor, colorful visuals, and voice acting. A sequel, Making Friends 2: Back to the Drawing Board, released in 2025.
Plot[edit | edit source]
Danielle Radley is a student from the town of Melton, Connecticut who is new to middle school, and is having a hard time. Her two best friends are not in any of her classes, and not only is she having a tough time making new friends, she is also being bullied. One day, as her family visits their deceased great-aunt Elma Witkowski's house, she finds her old sketchbook. Thinking her drawings are nice, she decides to keep it, before Aunt Tracy and Uncle Dave take the first two, leaving Danielle with the one she finds the least interesting. On the bus ride home from school that day she comes across her old friends Joan Quincy and Leah Tung, as they wish Danielle was in their lunch wave so that they could continue hang out. As Danielle gets off the bus, she gets confused for a boy by one of the other students, embarrassing her.
At her house, Danielle decides to sketch Prince Neptune, her favorite character in the show Solar Sisters. Suddenly, Neptune's sentient head springs to life right out of the page, scaring Danielle. Curious, she asks if he is the real Neptune, to which he confirms that he is. Danielle's mother Linda comes into the room, noticing that Danielle's room is a mess. Once Linda exits, Neptune uses his magic powers to tidy her room Neptune begins to refer to Danielle as his "princess", although she replies by saying that she is not, she is just a regular girl. Later at night, Danielle questions what she should do with Neptune, fearing that since he is a bodiless head, he'll scare people. Neptune says that he could come along in Danielle's backpack, a plan that she agrees to.
The next day at school, Danielle gets bullied in class by Nick Maloney, causing her to run out of class crying. This angers Neptune, who offers some advice to help Danielle, however she comes up with a plan of her own. Hiding in the bathroom, she uses the sketchbook to come up with Madison Fontaine, who she envisions as a cool friend who is always by her side. She immediately comes to life, taking notice of Danielle and hugging her. Neptune tries to greet her, however she begins to question why Danielle has a talking head in her backpack. Danielle introduces Neptune to Madison, and the two warm up to each other, before Madison forgets what she's supposed to be for a second as a side effect of her coming from the sketchbook. Madison comes back to her senses and helps Danielle look cooler, as they return to class and Danielle puts Neptune back in her locker.
In the hallway, she encounters Tom Torres, who is having trouble finding his homework. Unable to find it, she uses the sketchbook to create a copy of his homework, thanking her. Danielle returns to class, where Madison is being introduced. Cara tries to convince Madison to sit next to her, however she decides to sit by Danielle. After school, Neptune decides to stay at Danielle's house so he can recover from his headache. Madison begins to question if it is safe for him to be by himself, since he is considered evil, but Danielle thinks he's just misunderstood. Madison says that they should go to the mall as she doesn't feel like going home yet, however she begins to forget where home is, and Danielle, beginning to worry, says that her parents are still finishing business in New York, and she can stay at her house. Danielle decides to sketch up magic rings that enable their user to fly, and they use them to travel to the mall. While there, they try on some new clothes, and Danielle adapts to a certain style. Madison suggests that she should wear something that reflects her style, however Danielle says that she wants to be cool, and Madison disagrees, and she tells her to just exist while not caring about what other people think. At night, returning home, Madison asks if Danielle's parents know that she's coming over, and she reassures that she told them a while ago. They arrive at her house, and she introduces Madison to her family. They go into Danielle's room, where Neptune has been waiting for them. He suggests that she should draw his body, so he could blend in at school easily. Although his new body works at first, it then fails as his telekinetic abilities are limited, and that he needs to harvest human energy to recharge them, which Madison does not allow him to do. Terrified by the experience, the bury his body in the backyard. Later at night, Danielle talks with Neptune about how she should talk to Madison about her coming from her sketchbook and not being a "real" person. Neptune responds by saying that family is overrated, since his parents sold him to the Dragon Lord when he was younger in exchange for their kingdom, before they were betrayed and murdered.
At school the next day, Leah compliments that Danielle looks cool, and Madison takes credit for her looking like that. Nick comes back at Danielle, before Madison immediately approaches him and roasts him for bullying Danielle, and Nick storms off defeated. Danielle and Madison continue spending most of their time together, and a few days later, Madison asks Neptune if he misses his family, mostly his brother Prince Saturn, and Neptune responds by saying that he has made peace with his brothers death, partially because he got revenge on Lord Dragon. He then asks Madison if she misses her family, causing to Danielle to finally admit that Madison doesn't have parents. Madison attempts to respond with a backstory, but Neptune interrupts her by saying that she came from the sketchbook. She doesn't believe it at first, but after a failed attempt to call her parents, Danielle tells the truth to Madison, and Madison flips through the sketchbook, finding her original drawing in there, and causing her to get mad at Danielle. She tries to convince Madison to stay, but she leaves. Danielle finds her sitting on the road, and says that she will try to figure something out. Madison comes back inside, but the two are now separated and barely talk to each other. Danielle finds that Madison is now hanging out with Cara, and is completely ignoring her. At lunch, Tom finds out that he left his original science report at home, and begins questioning why there are two of them. Nick comes to the table Danielle and Tom are sitting at and picks on her, causing Tom to snap and push Nick, before the three are sent to the councilor's office. Danielle later catches up with Madison, trying to let her stay at her house, but Madison says that she's already found a motel she's staying at. Danielle tries to convince her to let her parents adopt her, but she responds by saying that's she's fine alone, and she needs space to figure out who she is. Neptune comes up with a plan to help her get more friends, which Danielle agrees to.
The next day, Neptune begins speaking to Danielle through a microphone, trying to make her say certain things. She rejects most of his plans, but she accidentally says a piece of his advice to Aleesha, causing her to storm off in anger before she apologizes. Aleesha later begins missing most of her classes for the pep rally, and Danielle talks to Neptune about her loneliness. He lectures her about how he could have become a classmate like Madison, but instead she kept him in her locker, and forbidden human energy, his main energy source. Danielle agrees to let him use some of hers, and agrees to find a way to give Neptune a body. She comes up to Amanda, and tries to use Neptune's advice. This backfires, angering her and causing her to stab Danielle with her pen. Madison comes across Danielle, and she tells him about the earrings Neptune uses to communicate with her. Madison then yells at Neptune, and throws the earrings out of the window. Madison and Danielle then go into the library where she tells her about her attempts to get into the motel, which failed due to her being a minor. She is then assigned to a foster family, the same one as Amanda.
The students then head to the pep rally, where Joan and Leah introduce Danielle to Rhonda. As the pep rally begins, Tom notices that Madison joined the cheerleaders. However, the pep rally is then cut short when Prince Neptune bursts through the ceiling, now with a full body, trapping all of the students inside the gym. She then proceeds to sketch up Solar Sisters Transformation lockets and flying rings for all the members of the group. As Neptune harvests the energy of most of the students, including Matt, the group proceeds to use their transformation lockets as they go to fight Neptune. He then notices Danielle and tries to convince her to join his side, before the group, as well as several other students, try to attack at Neptune, before he knocks all of them away. The battle moves outside and to the center of town, where Neptune proceeds to tase the group as he reveals that he drew his new body himself, as he has telekinesis. Madison rips his page out of the sketchbook, and Tom tells her to destroy it in order to defeat Neptune, but she is reluctant as her sketch is on the other side. She rips the paper, but it doesn't effect either of them as they're both "alive", even though they came from the sketchbook. Neptune then asks why Danielle brought him to life if she refuses to join his side and rule Connecticut, to which she replies to it as an accident, Neptune and Danielle then proceed to share a kiss, as Aleesha believes the fight is over, before he proceeds to steal the sketchbook as he uses it to rule the town.
Upon arriving at Neptune's newly-formed lair, the group infiltrate Neptune's lair and use Joan's truth bombs to attack the Knightmares since, according to her, it's their only weakness. With help from Tracy and Dave, Madison plans to plant a massive Truth-bomb to defeat Neptune. However, Madison is outnumbered by the Knightmares when she is about to upload the video, while Joan and Leah furiously fight the Knightmares after seeing her get captured.
Danielle is eventually captured. Facing Neptune to justify saving humanity, Danielle explains that no matter how she and her friends struggle, they will always stay connected despite how far apart they are. Neptune rejects this reasoning and drops Danielle from his lair. , saving her and helping the rest of the group. They band together to fight the rest of the Knightmares, and Danielle then gets the idea to defeat Neptune with the power of friendship, an idea that confuses everyone at first, before they proceed to hold hands, causing a great force that blasts Neptune all the way to the moon. The group then notices all the destruction that's been caused in Melton and begin to worry.
At Danielle's house, the group gets informed that they will be transferred to different schools until the damage has been repaired initially worrying them, as Danielle and Madison proceed to make up their friendship. Danielle is assigned to Bridgeford Middle School, where she meets a student named Grace, and stumbles across Nick, who is stuck as a pig. She uses her transformation locket to turn him back into a human, before meeting up with Grace's friends, Rose and Sophie, as the group quickly become friends.
In a mid-credits scene, Alex comes out of a locker that was scattered from Neptune's attack, and he stumbles across one of Neptune's Knightmares. It terrifies him and causes him to run back into the locker, which then falls over on the Knightmare, but traps Alex. He begins to hit on the locker to have it move so he can get to his house, refusing to open the locker as the Knightmare is still stuck on the front. Meanwhile, Neptune, still on the moon and having lost his sanity, begins plotting his revenge.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- Kristen Schaal as Danielle Radley
- Chloë Grace Moretz as Madison Fontaine
- Josh Brolin as Prince Neptune
- Jonah Hill as Nick Maloney, a bully who constantly picks on Danielle.
- Jeff Garcia as Tom Torres, a Guatemalan-American and one of Danielle's friends
- Sarah Silverman as Joan Quincy
- Awkwafina as Leah Tung
- Will Forte as Matt
- Dulcé Sloan as Aleesha Robinson
- Brooke Dillman as Rhonda
- Kristen Wiig as Cara McCoy
- Jenny Slate as Lauren Radley
- Tina Fey and Tim Heidecker as Linda and Chuck Radley
- Drew Barrymore as Aunt Tracy
- Christopher Miller as Uncle Dave
- Jung Sheppard as Edward Yang
- Bobby Tisdale as Alex, a boy who’s seen frequently throughout the movie climbing into his own locker and shutting the locker door behind him.
Additional voices[edit | edit source]
- Kirk Baily
- Rajia Baroudi
- Susan Boyajian
- Rebecca Davis
- Johnny Gidcomb
- Jean Gilpin
- Nicholas Guest
- Sean Kenin
- Arif Kinchen
- Jennie Kwan
- Phil Lord
- Susan Leslie
- Christopher Miller
- Cullen McCarthy
- Scott Menville
- David Michie
- Kamali Minter
- Sariann Monaco
- Joey Naber
- Jonathan Nichols
- Juan Pacheco
- Jessica Pennington
- Michelle Ruff
- Nick Shakoour
- Alyson Stoner
- Daisy Tormé
- Kari Wahlgren
- Dean Wein
- Diamond White
- Debra Wilson
- David Zyler
Production[edit | edit source]
Development[edit | edit source]
In August 2018, Variety reported that Aleka Entertainment had acquired the rights to the graphic novel to develop a film based off it, with Phil Lord and Christopher Miller attached as directors. Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Sony were considered to produce the film. It was later announced in February of 2019 that the film would be produced by Sony Pictures Animation, and the film would be a CGI-2D hybrid. They were originally going to do a completely CGI film, but they decided to do a hybrid one since it would make the film stand out more. Karey Kirkpatrick was also attached as one of the writers of the screenplay, and Rich Moore also signed on as producer following his move from Disney to Sony Pictures Animation. The crew is working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Animation[edit | edit source]
In a 2019 interview with Phil Lord, he reported that the animation for Danielle's world would be animated at Sony Pictures Imageworks using CGI, and the animation for people and objects that come from the notebook would be done using 2D animation done at Aleka.
Casting[edit | edit source]
In June 2020, it was announced that Kristen Schaal was cast as Danielle Radley, alongside Chloë Grace Moretz as Madison Fontaine. Benedict Cumberbatch was originally intended to be cast as Neptune, before being replaced with Josh Brolin.
Music[edit | edit source]
Following the release of the first trailer, Phil Lord confirmed on Twitter that his frequent collaborator Mark Mothersbaugh will compose the score for the film. In January 2021, Gudsnuk revealed on Twitter that the movie's soundtrack will incorporate songs from various artists, including The Ramones, Ricky Martin Journey, The Cars, R.E.M, and Foreigner, as well as two brand new original songs, one by The Flaming Lips.
Release[edit | edit source]
The film was released on July 31, 2022 by Sony Pictures Releasing in 3D and Dolby Cinema.
Marketing[edit | edit source]
The first teaser trailer was released on August 7, 2021, and was attached to The Boss Baby: Family Business. The film's second trailer was released on April 10, 2022, and was attached to Sonic the Hedgehog 2, DC Super Pets and Lightyear.
Home Media[edit | edit source]
Making Friends will be released on digital by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on November 16, 2022, with Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD, and DVD versions following on November 25.
Reception[edit | edit source]
Box office[edit | edit source]
Critical response[edit | edit source]
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 96% based on 143 reviews, with an average rating of 9.2/10. The critical consensus reads: "Making Friends is a visual tour-de-force and combined with a funny, and sometimes touching, story, it makes for a film anyone can enjoy." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 86 out of 100, based on 21 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Accolades[edit | edit source]
Making Friends won Best Animated Feature Film at the 80th Golden Globe Awards, and won the same award at the 28th Critics' Choice Awards and the 95th Academy Awards, among several other awards and nominations.