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.