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Smallfoot (2018) Movie Review By Stephen McLaughlin


Directors: Karey Kirkpatrick, Jason Reisig (co-director)
Writers: Karey Kirkpatrick (screenplay by), Clare Sera (screenplay by)
Stars: Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya, Common, Danny DeVito

Smallfoot is an animated film by Warner Bros (Warner Animation Group’s 5th feature film)  that is about a Yeti named Migo (Tatum) who is convinced that the elusive creatures known as “humans” really do exist and must prove of their existence to his Yeti Tribe. Set at the top of the mountains the tribe live their life in isolation keeping with their traditions of observing and obeying their beliefs which are set in stone, Migo after witnessing a “Smallfoot” goes against his people and beliefs that there is no such thing and is banished as an outsider by the tribe and the Stonekeeper (Common). To prove to his people Migo sets out on a quest to prove the existence and once again be accepted by his community with the help of his friend Meechee (Zendaya) and the S.E.S (Smallfoot Evidentiary Society)

While this is all happening we are introduced to the Smallfoots….oh wait, I mean the Humans and their side of the story. Enter Percy (Corden) who along with his television crew and looking for their next big news story. Percy is kind of like the Steve Irwin of his times. His interest and care into wildlife with integrity is what captured the publics imagination of him and his shows, but with failing viewers now, Percy comes up with a plan to trick the audience into thinking he comes across a Yeti (His colleague Brenda played by Yara Shahidi dressing up as a Yeti) and is convinced this will spiral him back in the big time.

This is where both civilisations meet accidentally and I have to admit I thought Percy was going to be the villain of the movie or at a stretch, be the one who captures or exposes the Yetis to the Humans and maybe have some kind of moral dilemma at the films peak. Unfortunately there isn’t really a villain here. Smallfoot is more about acceptance and tolerance and to be fair I think Kirkpatrick and Sera get there message across without it being too taxing or forced. The story is also interesting enough as things unfold the tribe and the Storekeeper have been keeping a few things back from their people in regards to humans which I will keep spoiler free.

Tatum now in his fourth animated film after The Lego Movie, The Lego Batman Movie and The Book of Life is good as the main character Migo. The character is likeable and Tatum delivers the lines to suit the characterises of a vulnerable Yeti seeking acceptance by his people and the humans. Some of the scenes with his father played by Danny Devito are well written and gives us an inside into the working minds of the Yeti Tribe and the conflict in their beliefs.

Corden as Percy is just James Corden and what he does best. Like him or not, he has the enthusiastic zing to carry his characters in animated films. Look at his work in Trolls or the Emoji Movie. Not exactly amazing films, but he leaves his presence and he does this here again. Setting up Percy in those early stages of the story could have gone another way and I’m sure Corden would have done well in portraying him as a villain, but credit where it is due, he equally carries the human aspect of the story through the character and for once doesn’t take over the screen.

Zendaya like Corden manages to add energy into her character of Meechee. There are hints of Anna Kendrick’s Poppy from Trolls in her delivery and this is due to the characters optimism over her beliefs of Human Existence. Zendaya’s Meechee is also the daughter of the Stonekeeper, so there is conflict between them and a strained relationship.

From a filming point of view I liked the look and feel to the film. Yes it is self contained in two settings, that of the mountain top and the city below, but it looks stunning and the CG animation looks great in its backdrop and characters. I also loved the communication technique the filmmakers went with in how both Yeti and Human hear each other (to each other, not the audience members) From the Yeti perspective we hear the humans are squeaking high-pitched beings and from the human point of view we experience that the Yetis are all growls and roars. Thankfully this little trick isn’t overused and I can confidently say that you will get a little laugh out of that technique.

Overall, Smallfoot is a delightful animated film that comes in at 1 hour and 36 minutes. I’m telling you that, the time will fly in as the story is compelling and the characters are relatable and likeable. It is about understanding and acceptance and if you have a young family I would recommend taking them along as the kids will enjoy it. Recommended.

Man on the Moon (1999) Movie Retro Review by John Walsh


Director: Milos Forman
Writers: Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski
Stars: Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Gerry Becker

The Milos Forman directed Man on the Moon from 1999 has been back in the spotlight once again in the last week with the reveal of the behind the scenes documentary, Jim and Andy. I’m a massive fan of Jim Carrey, had watched this film before, but decided to rewatch it again after being surprised with the announcement of the aforementioned documentary’s forthcoming release.

It’s a biopic and a bloody good one at that. It follows the eventful life of eccentric entertainer Andy Kaufman. This man was perhaps the closest living embodiment of Marmite humanity has ever had, which for anyone that hasn’t been acquainted with the stuff, is a beef extract paste that you either love or hate. I love the stuff personally, which is fitting because I also happen to enjoy the uniquely odd blend of often cruel humour, art and entertainment that Mr. Kaufman championed.

Taking the helm of portraying the man was, as mentioned, the magnificent Jim Carrey. Kaufman was a real hero of Carrey’s, a fact that’s instantly palpable from the first scene onwards. He went deep into this character, going fully method, refusing to leave the character during the entirety of the film. This didn’t go at all smoothly, as I said the real man was eccentric and abrasive at the best of times, and it’s that very fact which has stopped the behind the scenes footage from being released for nigh on twenty years.

The film itself does an excellent job of charting out his career. From the painfully awkward moments of his standup beginnings under the guise of Latka in small bars and clubs, his most popular time in the hit show Taxi, right through the upper echelons and subsequent troughs of his career. Such as the famous (or infamous) breakthrough ‘Mighty Mouse’ appearance on SNL. And listen, don’t think for a moment that Man on the Moon is a gush fest either because it isn’t. It doesn’t hold back or try to portray him as anything other than the deeply troubled genius of a performer that he was.

It happily displays all his flaws and stubborn insistence on being something of a pioneer at the time, even if it meant pushing the boundaries of art to breaking point. For instance, the creation of the obnoxious and divisive Tony Clifton (a schizophrenic act that’s still going to this day) and his reciting of the Great Gatsby, complete with posh English accent to an unimpressed and ever dwindling audience or the prolonged wrestling tour, during which he wrestled dozens of angry women that he ripped into at will and the ensuing kayfabe beef with Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler.

Likewise, it also explores his personal life, oddly platonic, but romantic relationship with Lynne Margulies (who he met on the wrestling tour) and his strong belief in transcendental meditation, showing his interaction with Indian gurus on several occasions. One such interaction even hints at one of the latter being the inspiration behind the aforementioned Mighty Mouse act and the vitally important, awkward silence which surrounded it. It also touches upon the tragic circumstances of his death and the odd conspiracy theories that surround it. Many to this day still believe he faked it.

Carrey is on tremendous form in this one. His performance, looks and mannerisms is/are eerily bang on. He received plenty of flak from certain circles about overacting and hamming it up, an opinion which I vehemently disagree with. You just have to check the comparison videos on Youtube to see how close he got and he clearly has the passive Kaufman down. It’s perhaps possible that he was asked to dial it up during certain scenes, but overall he did an incredible job of portraying a unique and complex man.

Other noteworthy performances would be Danny DeVito as George Shapiro and Paul Giamatti as Bob Zmuda. The former actually worked with and knew the real Kaufman from his time on Taxi and was enjoyable as the agent/manager. Interestingly enough, they got all the original members of that show to return for this film, including a certain Christopher Lloyd.

Ultimately though, this film is going to illicit the same response as the man its portraying. I feel like it will split viewers down the middle. You’ll either love it and enjoy the intense journey it takes into the life of Kaufman. Or maybe you’ll hate it, find it hard to get on board with the humour or art and consequently find the entire thing an uninteresting borefest. That’s certainly the split reaction it garnered in my household. One thing can’t be denied though. It’s beautifully directed, has a great story, features an Oscar worthy performance from Carrey and has a great R.E.M. heavy soundtrack. That’s certainly good enough for me.

I’d normally give a recommendation, but my best suggestion for this one is to try the first twenty or thirty minutes, see how you feel and take it from there.

Rating: 4/5