Rob Reviews "Smallfoot"
You know that holiday commercial where Santa runs into the M&M’s while he is delivering gifts to a house, and upon seeing each other, they both realize the other DOES exist and they mutually pass out? Now, take that and make it into a full-length animated feature with the voice talents of Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya, Common, LeBron James, Danny DeVito, and more with songs by Christian Contemporary legend Wayne Kirkpatrick and co-directed by his brother Karey and longtime animator Jason Reisig, and I bring you “Smallfoot”.
Tatum plays Migo, a Yeti who lives atop a mountain in a village where life is isolated from the rest of the world. His father, Dorgle (DeVito) is responsible for sounding the gong that they feel brings light to the village each day as told by a number of stones that is kept by the Stonekeeper (Common). Migo is next in line to take his father’s job, and when a test run goes wrong, he winds up outside the village where he runs into a “smallfoot,” who is a human who has crash landed on the mountain. The stones tell the village that this elusive creature does not really exist, and when Migo questions the tales of the stones, he is banished from the village where he meets up with a secret society that believes him. He winds up on an adventure that not only leads him to a smallfoot in the form of wildlife show personality Percy (Corden), who sees Migo as the thing that will get him the respect he deserves in his own career.
While Warner Bros.’ cinematic animation tends to leave me lacking when I leave the theater (the first two “Lego” franchise movies notwithstanding), this one does not fit into that category. I found myself laughing out loud more than once, even with jokes I saw coming a mile away. There are even a couple of sequences that pay tribute to their animation past that gave me a smile and kept the story moving nicely. The voice cast does a nice job here as well, complimented by Gina Rodriguez, “Black-ish” star Yara Shahidi, and Patricia Heaton to the point where I was able to kick back and enjoy the story on the screen and not think about who was who.
The odd part here is that the one thing that fell flat for me was the music. Although there was not as much of it as I thought there would be given the opening of the film, it was still just not great songwriting, especially given how prolific and amazing of a writer and performer Kirkpatrick is. I have been a fan of his for literally decades, and the songs used (even with seasoned performers that there are in this cast) seemed to be dumbed down too much to try to get to its target audience. This film would be better served if it were just a straight story and not try to find the next “Let it Go” in order to make this a film that would resonate more solidly as it’s script is strong enough to stand on its own.
I was very pleasantly surprised by “Smallfoot,” which was much better than it had to be. This could be a sleeper hit with kids that works well as a standalone story. Even though there is a possibility of more to come, I would personally prefer not in order to not water it down. (I now see that there is a pun there, but it totally was not intended.)