Smallfoot is a warm, likeable film reflective of a golden age for kids’ cinema. It has a number of serious messages which do not in any way compromise how enjoyable it is to watch.
As the title implies, the plot revolves around a yeti, Migo (voiced by Channing Tatum), who discovers that humans exist. His claims are met with ridicule and ostracism from his community, and in his quest to prove himself, he uncovers some darker truths about his entire way of life. This sounds like heavy going for a children’s film, yet the serious themes are explored with a lightness of touch which ultimately renders this an entertaining and rewarding film for all the family. It is uplifting to see how far we have come from Disney princesses, with a film which encourages children to believe in themselves and be true to their natural curiosity.
Visually, the film is stunning - about as awesome as animation can get. Sweeping landscapes, twinkling skies, detailed textures and of course a large helping of slapstick comedy. I remember being told in school art classes that gadgets don’t make good subjects for visual art, yet the film’s rendering of a range of machines, including some older video game references just for the accompanying adults, was masterful and added to the graphic delights of the experience.
The star-studded cast was near perfect: Danny deVito was instantly recognisable in his role as Migo’s dad Dorgle, no doubt reinforced by the animation reflecting the actor’s diminutive stature. Tatum demonstrated his versatility as an actor (and, more surprisingly, a singer!), being fully immersed in the silliness of being a yeti, proving he has more to him than his poster-boy looks. The chemistry between the supporting cast was clear, heightening the humour of the film. My only quibble with the casting was James Corden, whose expedient, fame-hungry TV presenter Percy was uncomfortably easy to believe, and when Percy experienced an epiphany that transformed him into a nicer person, the voice of Corden made him yet difficult to warm to…
The soundtrack was physically toe-tapping, particularly the powerfully gripping and catchy, even subversive, rhythms of ‘Let It Lie’, one of the songs written by polymathic director Karey Kirkpatrick, which deserves to be a hit all on its own. The musical numbers were set off beautifully against the classical score, which elevated the entire run-time into an audible treat. My main disappointment with the film overall was that there weren’t quite enough of the original songs: they teased but repeating one of the main themes very shortly after it had originally been performed struck me as lazy, and a wasted space which could have been filled with a more imaginative alternative. Despite this, the film is a welcome addition to an increasingly sophisticated offering of kids’ cinema, which the whole family can enjoy.
My little brother had the following to say: