Smallfoot, the new animated movie, offers a glimpse into a unique world of Yetis, fanciful stones and even the morning ritual of a ringing of a gong. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant. The feature has its own identity but the concepts contained in it are universal, creating a potent message in a film that children can surely enjoy.
The Yetis in the feature live in a controlled land surrounded by clouds. The Yetis believe in things because those things were written on great stones and Stonekeeper (Common), the town elder, says they are true. They believe that the ringing of the gong is the reason that the sun comes out. They also believe that their home is floating above the clouds and that nothing lives underneath those clouds. They believe in those things because the elders tell them to.
Like in the novel The Giver (which also focused on a world where the elders dictated the rules), one of the younger characters in this story realizes that something may be amiss about what the elders are saying.
Channing Tatum, who offers a buoyant performance here, voices Milgo. Milgo is set to become the new ringer of the gong. Each morning, the gong ringer is shot from a slingshot towards the gong, which (according to the stones) launches the sun and wakes up the neighborhood.
One morning, Milgo accidentally meets a human (known as a smallfoot in the Yeti community). The elders say that smallfoots don’t exist, leading Milgo to question the community’s common knowledge.
Although the film’s beginning drags a little, Milgo’s investigation leads to some great moments. He joins a conspiracy theory-spouting group of outsiders in the community (which includes the elder’s own daughter) and he eventually journeys through the clouds to a smallfoot community. It’s here where he encounters Percy (James Corden), an animal-loving television host who really wants to break through in the ratings.
In a cast of well-known actors, Tatum really stands out in capturing his naïve but idealistic character. However, Corden also does a great job as the ratings-hungry Percy and some of his character’s facial expressions provide some of the film’s highlights.
Added to the fun is a series of songs that spring up throughout the production. One particularly great song is sung by Common, who voices the Stonekeeper. Entitled Let it Lie, the song is exciting and has a great beat offering this feature a great deal of energy as the lyrics reveal the truth behind the stones.
Some of the feature’s concepts may seem foreign to children but the script, which was adapted from the book Yeti Tracks by Sergio Pablos, has a few great moments of levity. Combined with the. colorful animation, the story itself should keep young people interested in some of the community’s unique personality. For adults, the story offers plenty of thoughtful ideas about searching out the truth for yourself and not just believing what people tell you.
As the Stonekeeper notes in his song, “The only thing stronger than fear is curiousity.”
Review by: John Hanlon