Review by George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong
Perched atop a mountaintop, very high above the clouds, live a community of Yeti who happily and peacefully co-exist as they perform daily preassigned duties designated to keep them safe and sound. They follow rules set by the Stone Keeper (voiced by the musician, Common) who wears a garment of interlocking tablets, each with a rule on it that must never be questioned or broken – much like Moses and the Ten Commandments. When we first meet Migo (voiced by Channing Tatum), he is learning the ropes from his father whose only one duty is bang the gong which gets their day started. One day, while distracted by Meechee, the daughter of the Stone Keeper and that he has a crush on, he lands on a mountain ledge, where he sees an airplane crash and a tiny person escape. He can’t believe he has seen the mythical Smallfoot and when he tells the village of his discovery, he is accused of lying, as one of the tablets disavows their existence, and is banished from the community. Migo ultimately finds a secret group, which includes Meechee (nice work from Zendaya), that believe in the existence of the Smallfoot. Meanwhile, beneath the clouds, we meet Percy (the great James Corden), a nature show host. Panicked that his ratings are failing and his show will be cancelled if he doesn’t find a Yeti, he concocts numerous phony sightings and circumstances. Needless to say, Migo and Percy ultimately meet and try to help each other out.
SMALLBOOT offers more than the premise and story outlines. I was fortunate to see a screening of this Movie with a theatre filled with younger children and their adult chaperones and they laughed uproariously through the many pratfalls on screen, reminiscent of Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner. More importantly, this Movie’s target audience is not brow beaten with the theme of SMALLBOAT; that the truth will always prevail. The message is subtly but beautifully strong and clear.
Director Karey Kilpatrick’s (best known for Chicken Run and Over the Hedge) wit is evident throughout and he has a visual flair that makes this animated feature a joy to watch. He also gets nice vocal performances from all his Cast, which include Danny DeVito, LeBron James and Zara Shahidi (from TV’s Blackish. I enjoyed the many sight gags as well. However, his strengths do not include music or songs. With the exception of a nicely executed rap version of Queen’s “Under Pressure”, performed delightfully by Corden, the songs Disney-esque, but mostly forgettable. A small caveat in the big, entertaining Movie that is SMALLFOOT.
Warner Bros. Canada release SMALLFOOT Friday, September 27, 2018.