“Smallfoot”- Movie Review
In early 2013, Warner Bros. launched their feature animation studio, Warner Animation Group. The division started out strong in 2014 with The Lego Movie, and they’ve built a solid track record for themselves ever since with films like the Lego sequels and the 2016 comedy, Storks. When you really look at it, WAG has become a silent yet worthy competitor in the family film industry, And if anything, its latest feature, Smallfoot, proves things are so far so good.
The musical adventure stars Channing Tatum as the voice of Migo, a happy-go-lucky yeti who lives among other yetis high up in the snowy mountains. Migo is next in line to become the bong ringer, a task that, according to the ancient stones his village lives by, will bring the sun over the horizon. One morning, things go awry. Migo winds up outside the village walls and comes in contact with a “smallfoot” (i.e. a human), something the stones say don’t exist. He goes back home and tries convincing the others that smallfoots are real, but of course, they don’t believe him. So Migo sets out on a quest to prove that what he saw was real. Along the way he comes across Percy Patterson (voiced by James Corden), a TV show host desperate for ratings, and the two form an unlikely bond.
Initially, I had little interest in seeing this movie. I’d seen a brief behind-the-scenes featurette a dozen times in the theater- you know, the one where a few of the voice actors come out and urge you to see their movie and donate to charity, the one that played more than the actual trailer- and while the premise looked promising, nothing about the film popped. But when I started watching and reading the reviews, my mind slowly changed. I came around in the end, and as it turns out, this movie isn’t as run-of-the-mill as I’d expected.
Smallfoot is a cute and clever family film that’s weak on the humor but strong in its message. The moral is one you often find in kids movies- be open to new ideas and understand that despite our differences, we can come together as friends. As familiar as it is, it’s not conveyed in a lazy fashion. You can tell the filmmakers put a lot of effort into it on a technical level. The animation is beautiful, and the song numbers, while sounding a little too similar at times, are fun. The voice-actors go a good job, especially Tatum as the lovable protagonist.
The film plays on ideas of faith, curiosity and the tough choices that people make when the truth threatens to cause everything you’ve ever known to unravel. It lets children know that it’s okay to ask questions sometimes, and that it’s even healthy to do. I also respect the writers for not settling on a mustache-twirling villain. The film makes you believe it’s going that way, but near the halfway point, you realize the character who was set up to be the bad guy really isn’t bad at all. Rather, the true antagonist is the matter of misunderstanding.
Overall, Smallfoot is a likable movie, one that’s clearly geared toward just kids than to both kids and adults. The animation, the music, the voice-acting and certain elements of the story are proof that the filmmakers cared about crafting a smart, well-crafted film. I just wish it was funnier. I could count on one hand the number of chuckles it got out of me. Besides that, this is a decent movie to take your family to. It’s not one of the best of the year, but it is worth your time.