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Warner Animation Group has form, of course, with "The Lego Movie" combining laugh-out-loud humour for the kids with a knowing, subversive quality to keep the Mums and Dads entertained. It also produced "Storks", a much more pedestrian effort. Thankfully, "Smallfoot" belongs in the former camp.
Boasting impressive CG animation courtesy of Sony Imageworks, "Smallfoot" takes a tale reminiscent of "Monsters Inc." -- two groups ignorant and fearful of the other, in this case yetis and humans -- and twists it with a clever, topical message about the perils of putting dogma and self-interest ahead of critical thinking and the greater good. Ignorance really isn't bliss. This adult-friendly message may elude kids too busy laughing at the many visual gags, including a fantastic sequence involving fraying rope that brings to mind classic Warner animations of yesteryear, but it elevates the movie above most of its peers and ensures that not-so-young audience members are entertained too.
The film isn't quite Disney/Pixar level -- the yeti character designs are a little odd, as though the animators were trying to avoid too close a resemblance to Pixar's Sully, and the featured songs are catchy rather than great (Zendaya's "Wonderful Life" being the stand-out).
Still, "Smallfoot" is a thoroughly entertaining family film that aspires to be different, backed by appealing protagonists, well-judged comic moments, a thought-provoking message, and a rewarding resolution that steers clear of being saccharine. Recommended.
Adapting from the book 'Yeti Tracks' by animator Sergio Pablos is Dreamworks Animation veteran Karey Kirkpatrick and his co-director Jason Reisig, and the duo fashion a lively, fast-paced and colourful action adventure that sees our hero Migo (Channing Tatum) venture below the clouds concealing their mountaintop habitat to find the smallfoot and prove that he isn't lying or delusional. But had the movie simply been about Migo confronting the ostensibly deceitful Stonekeeper, it would probably be no more than the stuff of Saturday-morning cartoons; instead, Kirkpatrick and co-writer Clare Sera find unexpected depth digging deeper into why the bigfoots had sequestered themselves in the first place, weaving in a poignant lesson on the dangers of fear and close-mindedness as well as the transformative power of communication.
Lest you think that the movie ends up being heavy-handed, we can reassure you that it never does, or for that matter turn preachy. On the contrary, there are plenty of amusing details along the way - like how the exuberant Migo is at first perfectly content to follow in his father's (Danny DeVito) footsteps to have himself catapulted headfirst towards a giant gong every morning in order to wake the sun up; or the band of rebel Yetis called the clandestine Smallfoot Evidentiary Society (or S.E.S. in short), led by the Stonekeeper's own daughter Meechee (Zendaya), who assist Migo on his quest; or how Migo first runs into Percy (James Corden), an animal TV show host whom he will become unlikely buddies with, when the latter in his desperation for clicks tries to convince a fellow reporter to dress up in a Yeti costume so he can pretend to have captured one on camera.
Just as worthy of mention are the couple of Looney Tunes-esque sequences that are clearly meant to hark back to its parent studio's golden era of animation. Migo's initial descent becomes an extended set-piece that includes a tangle with a rope-bridge and its two precipitous cliffs, as well as with the broken body of the propeller plane which Migo had seen the original smallfoot crash-land out of. Later on, a refuge from a blizzard inside a deep cave becomes the scene of a series of comic misunderstandings, including a warming up on top of a pile of burning firewood, an encounter with an irate mother bear who had just put her baby cubs to sleep, and a classic display of language barriers. There is inventiveness in each of these gags, and calibration in both pace and rhythm, so even though they are zippy and zany, they never get too hectic for their own good.
Kids will also love the couple of musical numbers, penned by Karey and his fellow Kirkpatrick brother Wayne, including the narration-and-song opening 'Perfection' by Channing Tatum, the inspirational 'Wonderful Life' by Zendaya, and the edgy rap 'Let It Lie' by Common. To be sure, none of these reach the heights of Disney's 'Frozen' or even 'Moana', but they are definitely catchy enough to sustain their own energetically animated diversions. They also give the off-the-beaten voice cast ample opportunity to demonstrate their lesser-seen (or heard?) talents, and we dare say that Tatum, Zendaya and Common pull off the singing parts beautifully. Those familiar with Corden's 'Carpool Karaoke' series will be glad to know he has a quirky number here too, that is based on Queen's 'Under Pressure'.
So even though 'Smallfoot' never hits the Pixar gold standard of feature animations, or perhaps even the subversive ingenuity of Warner Animation Group's own 'The Lego Movie', there is plenty of fun and laughs to be had in this fable on lies and 'myth-understandings', as well as on mis-communication and the lack thereof. Like we said, you'll be pleasantly surprised that its makers haven't opted for just another superficially glossy piece of kids' entertainment, and have instead decided to evolve the narrative in more complex and satisfying ways. It isn't small or unambitious by any measure, and is in fact big on both entertainment and emotion, so you'll find that there's something for every member of the family - big or small - in this delightfully joyous celebration of wonder, discovery and truth.
The songs mostly didn't blow me away, although Common was pretty incredible (uncommon?). There were a lot of big laughs from both me and my daughter.
Gets a 10 because anything that is that funny that combines a great message in a way that both children and adults can relate to is extremely rare to encounter.
the songs were the highlight for me and i loved how they played with music genres instead of giving the same pop songs that you usually find in animation movies. I highly recommend this movie for the families, but i doubt the impact it's going to make with so many animation movies being released recently.
On a brief note of WTF??? The song that rips of "Under Pressure" by Queen/Bowie is quite possibly the worst song my ears have ever been subjected to. How in the world was that approved by those artists? And for god's sake, why did James Corden agree to sing it? If you think Vanilla Ice ruined that song, you have no idea. I wish, wish, wish that Khan, from Star Trek 2, would get another Ceti Eel and put it in my ear to nest and release its eggs into my brain. I then wish the baby eels would eat up all the parts of my brain where the memory of that song exists - no matter how much devouring that took. Honestly, it's that bad. And it's on Spotify. wow...
Now Common's song, that was awesome!!!!
1. Always tell the truth no matter what. With emphasis on "no matter what".
2. Intergrity over money and fame. Dont deceive people just for money and fame.
3. Love over money and fame.
Percy was famous when he got back from the mountains because of the video. He gave up all of that by saving Migo.
This is the movie i want my kids to watch. None of those immoral Disney characters.
Movie: Small Foot (2018)
Directors: Karey Kirkpatrick, Jason Reisig (co-director) Writers: Karey Kirkpatrick (screenplay by), Clare Sera (screenplay by) Stars: Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya
Cute: Animated movies often take this approach, but Small Foot especially took the reins of selling the terrifying yeti as a cute, cuddly, anthropomorphized group that look fluffy and stylish at the same time. It's characters have that adorable round face, big shining eyes, and a happy, peppy attitude that feeds positivity to the audience around. As such, hearts will melt and smiles will shine bright as they watch the group come to life.
Animation: No surprise here, a big budget production from WB has fluid movement and articulated sequences that show off their computer work. Small Foot's design is also colorful, vibrant, and somehow a tribute to the fashion/culture of multiple ethnicities that represent their voice actors. I myself loved the styles of the yeti's and how chique their fur was structured to make them unique. Definitely not the most realistic, but it works.
Strong Messages: What would a kid's movie be without important life lessons and adult politics present to provide a double layered story? Small Foot is just that, working to teach the audience the importance of trust, the questioning of theories to pursue truth and make life better, bringing cultures together to make for peace, and a variety of other messages that the world can stand to learn. It's powerfully done, with all the magic thrown in to help bring the message to full light and let it fully settle in. Where other films are a little more subtle, Small Foot decides to just blare it full blast to get the message across, even promoting a few songs to teach the lessons.
Funny at times: I think this states it enough, but Small Foot attempts a lot of comedic styles to entertain all ages. Many of the running jokes are tributes to vine and internet videos that should be familiar to the modern era. Some are brilliantly timed, and others are included haphazardly, there to be funny for the kids alone. I myself like the cleverer references or clever wordplay, which there is actually a decent amount, so kudos to them.
Songs: While it seems the modern trend is to turn everything animated into a musical to get soundtracks out and money in. While that trend gets annoying at times, have to say that the music of Small Foot was very entertaining and fitting to the scenes that were designed with them. Beautiful, passionate songs led by Zendaya gave me the goosebumps and held such emotional fire to motivate your desire to learn new things, while the Corben's twist on Pressure was clever, fun, and humorous to break things up. Nevertheless, this would be a fun setlist to play in the car and one worth investing in.
Lacking The Disney Magic: We know there are plenty of reasons why this is the case, but for me Small Foot is lacking the same power that bigger budget productions hold. Small Foot may be cute, but it didn't push the boundaries of creativity, character cultivation or design. It's not bad by any means, and while there is some originality, all the pieces don't quite line up.
The Overdone Comedy: Again, I like many of the things this movie offers in terms of laughs, but Small Foot has difficulties with finding that balance between too much and too little. The movie loves beating running joke horses to death, while skimping on jokes that were more diverse and bridged multiple ages.
More Songs: Can't believe I'm saying this, but in truth, the movie actually needed a few more songs to round out the experience. Zendaya's song is amazing, but for me not so much to fashion most of the screen time songs around it. At least three different renditions were played during the film, plenty of opportunity for some of those more humorous songs to fill instead.
Character Usage/Development: Lots of voices, means lots of time management needs, and Small Foot does okay to some degree. The problem is, that they just don't integrate the characters as well as I think they could have done. So many potential plot points, hindrances, and obstacles could have been introduced to add more to the story, but musical theatrics and cuteness took over. Much more was needed on many fronts to really tie all the characters together and launch more stories to the mix. This is probably due to lower run time, which was appreciated, but perhaps will set up for some type of Netflix series.
Overall, Small Foot is a fun ride that will appease the target audience easily enough. Music is fun, the jokes are a variety of references to get on board with, and it has that cute atmosphere you got from the trailers. And if you've got the little ones enjoy it with them, but realize this one doesn't quite have the magic behind it like it wanted. It's a little off balance, did not take the potential of developing characters, and needed more of the gimmicks to help give it that push it needed. So overall, most are going to either avoid or reserve this one for NetFlix/Redbox.
My scores are:
Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 7.0 Movie Overall: 6.0
Silly highjinks and bodily function humor.
I couldn't have been off by any more.
The kids will laugh.
They'll oh and ah at the fancifully world.
And us lucky adults get a story about friendship (natch) and what it means to be a part of your tribe. How do you best protect your loved ones.
And when is it best to be a trailblazer and when to two the line.
All this and cute character designs and smart plotting.
Definitely not to be missed.
Add in some slightly religious undertones with the stones and how they can never be wrong and you get - meh. Went to a birthday party with seven kids aged 5-9. None of them liked this. None of the parents liked it past a couple laughs.
Danny Divito was really the only high point in this.
Wait for Redbox
Smallfoot was a great animated film. First of all the lesson in this film was great for kids. You would normally have a lesson of being a good friend or don't lie but this film adapted to real life. The animation was really good. The hair on the yetis looked like real hair. The voice acting was pretty good. LeBron James character was probably my favorite. He was funny. Also when they left the main yeti I actually felt for them and didn't just think a bad character left. The crude humor didn't really fit in though. That was a major complaint I had.
Smallfooot was a great kids movie. It was fun for the whole family.
The story is not entertaining. The only funny part was shown in the trailer. The writing is simplistic and has no depth and fails to engage its target audience.
Really a poor attempt. I won't even bother watching it on tv when it airs for free on local channels
Smallfoot avoids the usual Disney formula and doesn't force its message down the viewer's throat. Lessons of acceptance and tolerance are important, especially in today's cruel and entitled world, but Smallfoot knows it's a family film first and balances the tone with fast-paced, comedic animation that serves as a clear ode to Looney Tunes (even the Yeti designs are reminiscent to the late Chuck Jones' art style), and some rather catchy and energetic musical sequences that effectively tell the story and display how the character's are feeling, like a good musical should. I was very taken aback that the film was a musical overall. I was not expecting such a chipper opening sequence in "Perfection", which introduced the film's world and customs in a swift, understandable, and soulful manner. I had no idea Channing Tatum could sing, and he sounds excellent. The film even attempts different genres with its songs. Common, despite his unfitting casting the old and wise figure called the Stonekeeper, delivers a rousing rap sequence with "Let it Lie", backed up by some heavy-hearted themes and burning imagery. This film has tons of musical variety and I love it.
As for the voice acting, as I mentioned above, there are some awkward mis-castings, Common, despite boasting one the film's best musical sequences, just doesn't fit the old and wise characterization, and I found athlete LeBron James' casting to be completely random, like Antz territory of force celebrity casting. Did Warner Bros. expect a basketball player to bring unique essence to his character? On the bright side, Channing Tatum proved to be likable lead. Tatum has always surprised me. Despite his pretty boy figure, he is quite a convincing actor, even through voice only. Tatum put a lot of curious and fun-loving spirit into Migo. I just wish the other characters were a tad more interesting. Zendaya, despite a dreamy singing voice, served as the obvious love interest, and Danny DeVito, while I bear an admiration for the man, played the supportive widowed father that we've seen in every movie ever. James Corden also had his obnoxious moments as Percy. I liked the scenes better where the yetis heard him speak in a low-pitched squeaky tone due to his shorter size.
In spite of its familiar elements, Smallfoot is a delightful romp. It's one of the better non-Disney and DreamWorks animated films and very worth checking out, regardless of your age. Channing Tatum is a charming lead, the music is catchy and expressive, the story is fun and interesting enough with healthy messages, and the animation is very entertaining and gorgeous to look at. The miscasts and often cringy jokes (there's literally a repeated image of a twerking pig and it really bothered me) do make it short of a complete classic, but I'm one to place Smallfoot alongside the Hotel Translvania films, Storks, 9, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in the sacred collection of under-appreciated animated films that deserve better viewership. Sadly, due to mainstream criticism, I don't see Smallfoot doing well with its theatrical run, but I implore that you give it a chance. See it by yourself, even take your kids if you're a proud parent. Contrary to popular opinion, Smallfoot has something for everyone. Grab your gear and take a hike!