Smallfoot review: Right in time for the colder weather, Warner Bros animation house takes us to a mountaintop to hang out with a bright and colourful bunch of characters in one of the more pleasant surprises of the year.
Channing Tatum voices Migo, a young Yeti who lives a life of bliss atop a mountain above the clouds in a society that believes nothing exists below the cloud line. When Migo unwittingly discovers a human, he is banished from the village. With a small band of fellow banished yetis, he seeks to prove what he saw and question the laws that his very society has been built upon.
There is much about Smallfoot that takes you by surprise. The concept itself is bright and fun, taking the perspective of Yeti conspiracy theorists who have their belief system shaken upon the discovery of a ‘smallfoot’. It allows for the film to have an unexpected amount of depth in terms of having its characters question the status quo to the point where the whole foundation of their society is irrevocably changed. All that, and it also has some very funny gags and sweet pop songs.
The characters themselves are all very appealing and drive the thematic concerns of the film, encouraging a strong moral backbone that inspires minds to question inconsistencies within the regulated order of their society. Migo and his friends (featuring Zendaya as Meechee, something which has already inspired a bizarre feel-good meme) are endlessly curious and their enthusiasm is infectious and charming, leading to a very appealing adventure.
Tatum, Zendaya, Common, LeBron James and Danny DeVito power the cast with their star personalities, as well as providing a great deal of comedic energy and engaging vocal performances. Tatum, Zendaya and Common also provide the vocals to some of the songs in the film, most of which prove to be fun and catchy pop song James Corden also features in the cast, and he is less appealing, as his songs are the most derivative by their nature (and he’s just not a very good singer in this). The introduction of his human character, in general, throws the focus of the film off a tad, but thankfully his character of Percy, a struggling nature documentarian, has a satisfying enough to make his presence tolerable.
The thought-provoking depth of Smallfoot’s concept and moral backbone comes hand in hand with a great sense of humour as well. The comedy on display is a mix of witty background gags and Wile E. Coyote-esque slapstick, leading to moments of comedic invention that has a nice dash of old school charm to it.
Smallfoot more than holds its own across the other family animated offerings that we have seen so far this year. It has a gallery of charming characters, pleasing songs, and a rich story that offers an engaging concept amongst its gallery of gags. Its plot of a society essentially becoming ‘woke’ offers a moral story that kids can enjoy and also one that older audiences can engage with on an intellectual level. It is nice to see a kids film that strives to capture the interest of mature audiences not just through innuendo and adult humour but through a thoughtful approach to thematic concerns. An inventive, funny and big-hearted adventure that all the family can enjoy. You must ‘sas-watch’ this (sorry).
Smallfoot review by Andrew Gaudion, October 2018.
Smallfoot is released in UK cinemas on Friday 12th October 2018.