American films

Smallfoot film review: yetis meet humans in animated comedy that questions conventional wisdom

High-concept comedy about seeking the truth despite what everyone tells you will intrigue adults but probably go over the heads of children, who must content themselves with some slapstick

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 September, 2018, 5:18pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 September, 2018, 5:18pm

3/5 stars

The thirst for knowledge is pitted against conventional wisdom and belief systems in this high-concept comedy by Warner Animation Group, about a tribe of yetis who struggle to come to terms with the discovery that the mythical creatures they call “smallfoot” (i.e. humans) exist beyond their Himalayan village.

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Young yeti Migo (voiced by Channing Tatum) is set to take over his father’s duty of waking up the sun each morning by hitting a big gong with his head. But when he accidentally flies past the target and chances upon a human pilot nearby, Migo’s statement about his discovery leads to him being banished by the village elder Stonekeeper (Common).

Encouraged by his friends in the clandestine Smallfoot Evidentiary Society, Migo literally takes the plunge to look for the human race below the clouds. When he befriends Percy (James Corden), a nature-show host struggling for ratings, and takes the smallfoot back home, the story takes a turn to reveal the past encounters of the two species.

While its message about the importance of seeking the truth in the face of conventional wisdom, whether political or religious, may intrigue adult viewers, the challenge to their values faced by its characters will probably fly straight over the heads of children. They will have to make do with some silly slapstick.

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There are nice touches to Smallfoot, the best of which is that the yeti and human characters hear only gibberish in each other’s speech. Less interesting is the movie’s final third, built upon the by-now very cliched view, to be found in every other contemporary animal movie, that humans are predatory by nature.

While it starts out as a parable of faith and mythmaking, Smallfoot ends up being just another family adventure in which everyone finds ways to get along. This is a fun movie that is nevertheless less memorable than it should be.

Smallfoot opens on September 25

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