Directed by Karey Kirkpatrick.
Featuring the voice talents of Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya, Common, LeBron James, Danny DeVito, Gina Rodriguez, Yara Shahidi, Ely Henry, Jimmy Tatro, Patricia Heaton, Jack Quaid, Sarah Baker, and Justin Roiland.
A Yeti is convinced that the elusive creatures known as “humans” really do exist.
Out of this year’s animated films, Smallfoot comes as a nice surprise. The film tells a pretty concise story with a good cast, pretty funny moments and surprisingly deep themes that most animated films don’t touch upon. The film is both entertaining and meaningful for young and old viewers alike, even if it doesn’t quite reach the highs of some other films in the animation genre. The blu-ray has a few features to keep younger viewers interested, but not a whole lot on how the film itself was made. Still, Smallfoot is an enjoyable enough film for audiences.
The film follows Migo (Tatum), a yeti who lives with the rest of his society in secret from the world as they obey a bunch of sacred and often convoluted rules to keep their world going. One of those rules, however, is that there is no such thing as a ‘smallfoot’, but when Migo meets a human one day, he travels down their mountain and begins questioning what he and his people thought they knew all their lives. It’s a pretty clear cut story as Migo discovers more about both his society and mankind while developing something of a friendship with Percy (Corden), a wildlife and animal enthusiast who has lost his integrity and sense of wonder. Their stories parallel and then intersect with each other as Migo begins having doubts about what his discovery will mean for the yetis while Percy begins to regain his self-respect.
The theme of discovery is one that is familiar in animated films, but its just the tip of the iceberg for Smallfoot. Some of the bigger themes the film explores is that of faith and the subsequent questioning of that faith as Migo and the other yetis follow a strict set of rules and beliefs to keep them away from man’s world. Other topics it tackles is fear of the unknown, demonizing the ‘other’ and communication as neither Migo or Percy can understand each other’s language. Its some pretty deep stuff in a kids movie that sets itself apart from other animated fare by tackling such heavy topics, especially as Migo spirals further into a crisis of faith and conscience.
Tatum and Corden give good performances as Migo and Percy respectively and do well vocalizing their emotional and philosophical struggles throughout the film. Tatum is funny and charismatic as Migo, making it pretty easy to root for and relate to him as his worldview is completely changed. The rest of the cast do fine jobs with Zendaya, Common, Danny DeVito and even LeBron James standing out with their characters. There are some characters, though, who fall to the wayside a bit and lack development and purpose for both the story and comedy. Because of this, most of the supporting characters are fairly forgettable.
The film does move along at a nice pace. It doesn’t take long for the story to get going and never feels like it drags itself out for a long period of time. Many of the jokes and slapstick elements land quite well, such as Migo’s fall from their mountaintop home with some pretty funny imagery or the misunderstandings between Migo and Percy. There are also several musical numbers throughout the film with a few of them being quite catchy, on of which being a parody of Queen and David Bowie’s ‘Under Pressure’ sung by Corden. The animation is also pretty well done, though there’s nothing in the imagery to make it distinct enough from other animated films.
The Smallfoot blu-ray isn’t rich in special features, but does include some nice additions. Concerning the songs, the blu-ray has a sing-along version for audiences to follow along with. Also included is a short about a young yeti girl as she’s teased by her classmates about her superhero dreams. However, there is only one feature that really looks at the making of the film as various members of the cast and production team discuss the film’s out there premise and themes they wanted to explore. Aside from a few storyboard sequences of scrapped or alternate scenes, there’s nothing about how they animated the film or came up with the songs either, leaving the features a bit bare bones.
Smallfoot is an entertaining enough movie with some surprisingly deep themes on faith, religion and discovery that aren’t covered very often by other animated films. Most of the cast give nice performances, though the supporting characters don’t do enough to justify their presence. Its unfortunate that the blu-ray’s features cover so little as it would have been nice to get some more thoughts on the story and themes as well as creating the film’s visual look and music. Young children should enjoy Smallfoot and there’s definitely enough for adults to enjoy as well.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★