Director: Karey Kirkpatrick and Jason Reisig (co-director)
Screenwriters: Karey Kirkpatrick and Clare Sera
Screen Story: John Requa, Glenn Ficarra and Karey Kirkpatrick, based on the book Yeti Tracks by Sergio Pablos.
Le Bron James
Runtime: 96 mins.
Australian release date: 20 September 2018
Previewed at: Hoyts EQ, Moore Park, Sydney, on 16 September 2018.
Smallfoot, the latest musical cartoon comedy from the Warner Animation Group, is bound to be a hit with the littlies, perfect for the up-coming school holidays. The film is scored by Heitor Pereira, a guitarist with the band Simply Red in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, and most of the six bright and breezy musical numbers were written by director Karey Kirkpatrick and his brother Wayne, and performed by members of the cast including Common, Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya and CYN. As a bonus track, Niall Horan’s new song Finally Free plays over the end credits.
Near a Yeti (or Bigfoot) village on top of a mountain high above the clouds, a plane crashes in the path of a young Yeti, Migo (Channing Tatum), who was flung off-course during gong target practise (in Yeti mythology banging the gong raises the sun every day). While investigating the aeroplane wreckage, Migo discovers a ‘smallfoot’ - a human - who is as startled to come across the ‘mythical’ being as is the bigfoot itself. Moments later the pilot, still wearing his parachute, is whisked off the mountain by the wind but when Migo relates the story of his discovery to the Stonekeeper (Common), the village chief-cum-priest, he is banished for challenging the status quo. As he’s leaving, Migo encounters a group known as the S.E.S. (Smallfoot Evidentiary Society,) who are the only believers among the Yetis and who promise to help him prove the existence of the smallfoot. Their leader is Meechee (voiced by Zendaya), who’s the Stonekeeper’s daughter and who is keen on Migo, although she hasn’t declared her affection for him. Migo decides to drop down through the clouds in search of the smallfoot and there he meets Percy Patterson (James Corden), a cable television Natural History presenter whose ratings are lagging because he hasn’t really got much to reveal to his audience. Their meeting is very funny as neither can understand the other and they totally misinterpret each other’s meaning. When Migo takes Percy back to his village, the reception he gets from the Stonekeeper is completely unexpected and leads to a rollicking adventure with lots of precarious moments.
The animation is stunning; two of the most notoriously difficult elements to animate are fur or hair, and water in all its forms, including ice and snow, and the film is full of all those things. Migo alone has more than 3 million individual strands of hair, so the creation of the characters is a credit to the animation team. Most children’s narrative follows the righteous path and Smallfoot is no exception. The story emphasises the value of science and integrity, and it enters a world that dispels pre-conceptions by showing how we need to search for the truth before we rush to judgement. Not a bad message for enquiring minds and, judging by the reaction of the young audience members at the preview session, one they were receptive to. It sets up the expectation of a robust discussion with parents on the way home from the cinema.