Turning the legend of Bigfoot on its head with plenty of laughs comes the animated comedy, “Smallfoot” (Warner Bros.). Co-written by Karey Kirkpatrick and Clare Sera, and directed by Kirkpatrick (Over the Hedge), “Smallfoot” opens in a village high in the mountains where a content group of yetis live. They are a happy group, satisfied with the simple tasks of their day-to-day lives.
The yetis, lead by Stonekeeper (Common), have a strict code of conduct, they must live according to the stones, which have come via inspiration to generations of stonekeepers. As far as the yetis know, the stones are the truth and questioning is. not. allowed.
Migo (Channing Tatum) dreams of succeeding his father, Dorgle (Danny DeVito), as the village’s gong-ringer, a very important post, as the gong welcomes the light given by the snail in the sky and wakes up the villagers to another day. Frustrated that his training isn’t going as well as he hoped, Migo takes a walk on the mountain to ease his disappointment. While there, he witnesses a plane crash and beholds something he believed didn’t exist...a Smallfoot...a human.
Rushing back to the village, Migo tells his story but when the villagers investigate, the plane and survivor are gone. Migo’s revelation has everyone worried because the stones tell them there is no such thing as a smallfoot. But Migo knows what he saw and for his insistence that the stones are wrong, Stonekeeper banishes him from the village.
Wandering the mountain, he comes upon Meechee (Zendaya), Stonekeeper’s daughter, who secretly heads a group of village oddballs, dubbing themselves the S.E.S., Smallfoot Evidentiary Society. Meechee believes with all her heart that humans exists and has been collecting evidence, including a tiny “scroll of invisible wisdom” (which is actually just a roll of toilet paper). Migo decides to risk it all and go below the clouds to look for evidence of the smallfoot.
In the human world below, Percy (James Corden) struggles to make his nature television show a success. The ratings have dropped recently and his producer, Brenda (Yara Shahidi), is ready to call it quits. Percy’s willing to do whatever it takes to make his show a hit, even to getting someone to dress up in a yeti costume so he can capture the ‘discovery’ on film. When Migo wanders into the town, Percy thinks it’s Brenda in the costume. But it’s not and Percy passes out, enabling Migo to wrap him in a sleeping bag and carry him back up the mountain.
To Migo, Percy sounds like a squeaking mouse and to Percy, Migo sounds like a roaring monster, which freaks him out even though Migo is just curious, not dangerous. When Migo presents Percy to the yeti village, their whole way of thinking is thrown into doubt. If the smallfoot does exist, does that mean the stones could be wrong? As Migo and Percy become friends, Percy’s presence in the yeti village brings to light some dark truths as the yetis begin to ask questions for the first time.
The actors who lend their voices to the characters all inhabit them with great aplomb. Tatum brings a boyish quality to Migo’s wondering and Zendaya gives Meechee the right balance of gentleness and excitement. As Percy, James Corden brings his comedy sense up a notch, poking fun at his own television background, with a great rant about ratings. Tatum, Zendaya, and Common all lend their singing voices to the film as well.
“Smallfoot” tickles the funny bone throughout the film and there were times when I was laughing out loud with the rest of the audience. The physical humor of the film is reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner from Looney Tunes, the yetis so huge that they are seemingly indestructible.
Catholic parents can find in the film some good segways into conversation with kids, especially regarding the essential value of integrity, as it ebbs and flows in the character of Percy. Being courageous enough to seek and discover the truth, as Migo did, is especially important in our ‘everything goes’ society. Yes, “Smallfoot” is a fun, animated movie, but the values found in the story are worth pursuing.
Thanks to Catholic News Service for permission to re-post this review.