Smallfoot (2018) Review

Based on the book Yeti Tracks by Sergio Pablos, Smallfoot tells a story about Migo (voiced by Channing Tatum), a young yeti living high up in the Himalayan mountain village, where he is looking forward in taking over his father (Danny DeVito) as the new gong-ringer. The job basically requires him to hit a big gong with a helmet on his head to wake up the sun every morning. But on the day of his first practice run, Migo accidentally catapults himself off the target and landed somewhere down the snowy mountain. This is where he coincidentally encounters a malfunctioned plane come crashing down and discovers a Smallfoot a.k.a. human being. He goes back to the village and tells everyone about his shocking discovery — a result that causes him getting banished from the village by the elder Stonekeeper (Common).

Although no one in the village believes Migo’s story, the Stonekeeper’s daughter Meechee (Zendaya) thinks he’s telling the truth. With the help of her fellow cohorts (LeBron James’ Gwangi, Gina Rodriguez’s Kolka and Ely Henry’s Fleem) a.k.a. the Smallfoot Evidentiary Society (S.E.S.), she persuades Migo to find more evidence of the Smallfoot existence.

Soon, a series of unexpected events led Migo stumbling upon another Smallfoot in the form of Percy (James Corden), a natures-documentary TV host looking to salvage his poorly-rated show.

First things first, the story actually has potential. Smallfoot contains some underlying important messages about finding common ground between the yetis (bigfoots) and the human races (smallfoots). It even covers other thoughtful lessons like acceptance and tolerance.

It’s just too bad all these potentially strong messages only touches on the surface level. Which makes me wonder if co-writer and director Karey Kirkpatrick wanted to offer an animated movie that appeals to both kids and adults, why not give them a right balance of entertainment and intellectual undertones?

Instead, Kirkpatrick prefers to scale down his message-heavy storyline and buried them with an avalanche of usual animation tropes including generic slapstick gags and equally mediocre song sequences.

Fortunately, Smallfoot still has its few moments. There are exceptionally two songs worth mentioning here: a fun cover version of Queen/David Bowie’s classic song “Under Pressure” (“Percy’s Pressure”) and a scene-stealing rap song titled “Let It Lie” by Common.

The animation is both vivid and colourful, while every CG hair of the yetis is meticulously rendered to lifelike result. And as much as I find most of the slapstick scenes are forgettable, at least Kirkpatrick offers a refreshing yet quirky touch on how the yeti and human character tend to listen to each other during verbal communication (the voice of a yeti resembles of a growling animal from the human’s perspective while the human sounds like a squeaky mouse from the yeti’s point-of-view). The all-star voice cast ranging from Channing Tatum’s Migo and Zendaya’s Meechee to Common’s Stormkeeper and even a minor role by Danny DeVito’s Dorgle, are top-notch.

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