Smallfoot Review: A warm and fuzzy film about cold beings
A fun kid-friendly animation adventure that has its moments for adults too
Warner Bros' latest offering in the animated genre, Smallfoot, has a neat concept - Humans fear the mythical yeti but what if these beings were real and believed that humans were the myth? The yeti live at the peak of what appears to be Mount Everest, up above the clouds, in a floating island - which is believed to be pooped out by a giant yak - below which there is nothingness.
Cast: Channing Tatum, Zendaya, Common, LeBron James
Director: Karey Kirkpatrick
Based on a book called Yeti tracks by Sergio Pablo, the film traces the journey of a young yeti called Migo (Channing Tatum), who after encountering a crash pilot, realises that smallfoot (aka humans) exists and whatever he has been fed all along were lies. When he brings this up with the village-elder, Stonekeeper (Common), he gets banished - for in this village you do not doubt the coda (read excommunication for heresy). Fun fact: The Stonekeeper is so called because he literally wears a stone robe that has been passed down by elders, who have made new rules and alternative facts (read Moses and Tablet of 10 commandments) to ensure that the concept of humans remains a myth. After being banished, our hero tries to land in a human village at the foothills of the Himalayas, and get a smallfoot back to lift his banishment and prove he was right all along. He enlists the help of other banished yetis Gwangi (LeBron James in his animation debut), Kolka (Gina Rodriguez), Fleem (Ely Henry) as well as the daughter of Stonekeeper Meechee (Zendaya), who have a Smallfoot Evidentiary Society, in this quest. The human in question, Percy (James Corden), is a Steve Irwinesque character - someone once relevant and inspiring, but now, disowned and is desperate for a break.
Warner Bros is quite clear about its target demographic: the children. There are moments, however, when the film digs into its inner Pixar and ensures that the adult also gets transported to his/her younger days. One such moment is an enjoyable Wile E Coyote-inspired sequence involving Migo going in search of the human. Another moment is when Percy and Migo communicate, but Percy's language comes across as cute, high-pitched shrieks, whereas Migo's language comes across as growls. The film largely works as long as it keeps up to its original concept and treats morally relevant areas like exclusion vs inclusion but runs into problematic areas when it tries to shoehorn protectionism vs free trade arguments.
Also, the film tries to borrow a key element - songs in animated films - from Disney. It has as many as four songs, two numbers deserving mention for different reasons; while the Under Pressure cover is distinctly bad both as a musical and story element, the Let It Lie number performed by Common with its rap infusion, is near perfect in the way it is shot and executed.
Smallfoot, while being far from perfect and having quite some problems that plagued the previous Warner Bros' animation venture, Storks, still offers clean, family-friendly adventure.