Dan's Review: "Smallfoot" is pleasing, not outstanding
Sep 28, 2018 01:42PM
● By Dan Metcalf
Smallfoot - © 2018 Warner Bros.
Smallfoot (Warner Bros.)
Rated PG for some action, rude humor, and thematic elements.
Starring (voices of) Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya, Common, LeBron James, Gina Rodriguez, Danny DeVito, Yara Shahidi, Ely Henry, Jimmy Tatro, Patricia Heaton, Sarah Baker, Jack Quaid.
Written by Karey Kirkpatrick, Clare Sera, Glenn Ficarra, John Requa.
Directed by Karey Kirkpatrick.
I have often opined on the how the rise in quality of computerized animation has been both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, we are often treated with several high-quality animated features (at least in terms of technical/visual experience). On the other hand, we’ve grown accustomed to them, accepting them as part of the routine cinematic landscape and nothing special. Pixar used to the be the “gold standard” of computerized animation, but several studios are able to replicate their quality (voice casting/scripts notwithstanding). Smallfoot hits theaters this weekend, and despite the quality of its computerized animation, could be “just another” cartoon in a list of many.
It’s the story of a Yeti tribe living somewhere in the high Himalayas, led by “the Stonekeeper” (Common) who orchestrates a nearly perfect communal existence via a list of creeds written on stones attached to his pelt. Migo (Channing Tatum) is the son of Dorgle (Danny DeVito) who acts as the village “gong ringer,” a position that requires being hurled head-first into a gong, an act that the yeti believe will cause the sun to rise. Migo aspires to one day take over for his dad but one day, he steps outside the village long enough to witness a plane crash and have an encounter with a “smallfoot” human pilot. He returns to the village to report his claim, only to be banished for his belief in human existence, which is forbidden by the yeti code. Migo immediately joins a secret group whose member believe in the existence of humans. They are Gwangi (LeBron James), Kolka (Gina Rodriguez), Flem (Eliy Henry) and the beautiful Meechee (Zendaya), who happens to be the Stonekeeper’s daughter (also Migo’s crush). The group helps Migo go on a quest to find proof of humans. One below the clouds, Migo heads to the nearest human village and meets Percy Patterson (James Corden) a failing wildlife TV host looking for a boost in his ratings. Migo takes Percy back to the yeti village, where their peace is disturbed by interaction with a human. Percy’s arrival also upsets the natural order of the Stonekeeper who reveals the truth about the yeti dogma and its sole purpose of keeping humans and yeti apart. Migo must decide whether to go along with the hoax or save Percy from a tragic end to maintain the yeti secret.
Smallfoot is enjoyable, fun and occasionally funny, relying heavily on pratfalls, sight gags, and a little bathroom humor. There are several pop songs performed during the movie, none of which are pleasant, but not exceptional. The animation is visually compelling and the voice casting adequate, but it’s not a “must-see” film that will join the lexicon of great animated feature films.
Some may notice the swipe taken at faith and religious dogma in Smallfoot, but the overall message is about love and friendship, which is always a good idea, no matter what your beliefs.