Migo the yeti has a little situation – literally! He’s stumbled upon a “smallfoot”.
They’re the things that we’d call humans, so we’re actually smallfoots… erm, smallfeets?
Migo (voiced by likeable lug Channing Tatum) lives amongst a substantial community of yetis high atop a mountain with its base obscured by clouds, which in turn obscure a small herd of apparently incredibly strong yaks that are holding the place up in the air. Well, this is one of the lines fed to them in order for the Stonekeeper (Common) to maintain control of his people. What’s holding up the yaks? Don’t question the stones!
But some of the tribe’s younger members do question the accepted order of things, in fact the Stonekeeper’s very son and daughter are founding members of the S.E.S. (which is in no way affiliated with the State Emergency Service). This one’s the ‘Smallfoot Evidentiary Society’, and after Migo spots that actual smallfoot one day when a plane crashes into his mountain, he’s soon let into the club by its excited members – and exploratory plans are hatched.
Meanwhile, a dazed pilot hits a local village claiming he’d encountered a bigfoot. TV nature documentarian Percy (animation omnipresence James Corden), who’s watching his ratings plumb new depths, pricks up his ears and sets out in hunt of this apparent big guy. Well, actually he’s just going to fake it all, but…
Smallfoot has an interesting pedigree. It was originally planned as a typical animated movie comedy/adventure, but then somebody decided to make it a musical as well. Perhaps it was all of those frozen things everywhere that sparked the idea…? As such, a good half dozen songs dot proceedings – sometimes a tad awkwardly. These range from your typical tween-friendly singalongs with swooping, inspirational choruses through to Corden rapping over Queen and Bowie’s ‘Under Pressure’ backing track and the undisputable highlight, Common’s stunning ode to blind acceptance ‘Let It Lie’.
These musical outbursts bump up against a fairly standard Monsters, Inc. styled story of fear of the unknown, that’s regularly punctuated by callbacks to the classic days of Warner Bros animation. There are some quite fabulous sight gags plucked straight from the Wile E. Coyote handbook – plus a hilarious recurrent, scene-stealing yak.
Smallfoot tries to be a lot of things, and it’s better at some of them than others. At times there’s message overload, but ultimately they’re admirable messages – and it manages to have a few stabs at mobile phone culture that hit the mark in a way in which The Emoji Movie could only ever have dreamed of.
We don’t recommend Smallfoot for very smallfooted kids, as it does have some scares, violence and slight language, but for those aged around seven and up there’s plenty to provide some solid school holiday entertainment. Some of those myriad good messages may even sink in – our test smallfoot’s favourite part of the movie, which we won’t reveal because spoilers, delighted us with hope for the next generation that’s coming through.
In cinemas: September 20, 2018
Starring: The voices of Channing Tatum, Zendaya, James Corden
Directed by: Karey Kirkpatrick, Jason Reisig