East Penn Press

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Movie Review: ‘Smallfoot’ small

Thursday, October 11, 2018 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

“Smallfoot” is “Frozen” without the ice-skating.

And also without Olaf.

“Smallfoot” has gorgeous animation of snow-laden landscapes of mountains and trees. The detail of artistry is impressive. For example, the hair on Migo, a Yeti (voiced by Channing Tatum) is incredible, as is the animation of the face, eyes, mouth and physical movements of the character.

A Yeti is also known as the Abominable Snowman, a mythical apelike creature said to be taller than humans. The Yeti is said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. Stories of the Yeti entered popular culture in the 19th century. In the Northwest United States, there are alleged sightings of Bigfoot or Sasquatch.

The conceit in the storyline of “Smallfoot” is clever. It’s a reversal of contemporary mythology about the Yeti. Whereas, humans wonder if Yeti exist, in “Smallfoot,” the Yeti wonder if humans exist.

In “Smallfoot,” the Yeti live in a mythical village on a very high mountain, or in a realm “above the clouds” somewhere between myth and reality. It’s never quite clear.

The plotline, such as it is in “Smallfoot,” is also never quite clear. It’s the usual mumbo-jumbo where ancient myths are rewritten for politically-correct contemporary audiences’ feel-good consumption.

The other aspect of “Smallfoot” that should be stated is that it’s really an animated film musical, much as are many contemporary animated feature films. In “Smallfoot,” it seems that a song comes along every 10 minutes or so.

The music was composed by Heitor Pereira. The songs were written by the movie’s director-screenwriter Karey Kirkpatrick and his brother, Wayne Kirkpatrick.

The songs include “Perfection” sung by Channing Tatum, “Wonderful Life” by Zendaya, “Percy’s Pressure” by James Corden (music from the song “Under Pressure,” sung by David Bowie and Freddy Mercury, with additional lyrics by Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick); “Wonderful Questions” by Tatum & Zendaya, “Let It Lie” by Common, “Moment of Truth” by CYN, and “Finally Free” by Niall Horan.

The songs are derivitive and not particularly memorable.

“Smallfoot” is directed by Karey Kirkpatrick (director, “Over The Hedge,” 2006; screenwriter,”The Smurfs 2,” 2013; “Charlotte’s Web,” 2006; “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” 2005; “Chicken Run,” 2000; “James and the Giant Peach, 1996), who cowrote the screenplay with Clare Sera (“Blended,” 2014). “Smallfoot” is codirected by Jason Reisig (theatrical feature film co-directing debut; supervising animator, “Trolls,” 2016; “Kung Fu Panda 3,” 2016).

“Smallfoot” is based on the book, “Yeti Tracks,” by Sergio Pablos.

Not only does the screenplay lack a compelling storyline, “Smallfoot” lacks the usual funny dialogue and quips. The animation action sequences are derivative of classic Chuck Jones “Looney Tunes” such as those featuring the characters Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner.

While each of the characters’ voices is good, none is distinctive, as, for example, are the voices of the characters in the animated feature film, “Shrek” (2001).

In addition to Channing Tatum voicing Migo, there are James Corden (Percy Patterson, a wildlife documentary filmmaker); Zendaya (Meechee, a female Yeti and the Stonekeeper’s daughter); Common (The Stonekeeper, the Yeti chief), as well as LeBron James, Gina Rodriguez, Danny DeVito and Yara Shahidi, who each voice other characters.

Another problem with “Smallfoot” is that, unlike with many animation films, the facial and body images of the characters do not reflect the facial and body characteristics of the actors who portray them. This is probably because the Yeti in “Smallfoot” have a certain herdlike sameness and resemble tall shaggy dogs with moon-like faces not unlike a character from a Dr. Seuss storybook.

“Smallfoot” should be of interest to children 10 and under.

“Smallfoot,” MPAA rated PG (Parental Guidance Suggested Some material may not be suitable for children. Parents urged to give “parental guidance.” May contain some material parents might not like for their young children.) for some action, rude humor, and thematic elements; Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy; Run time: 1 hr., 36 mins. Distributed by Warner Bros.

Credit Readers Anonymous: Approximately one-third of the way into the”Smallfoot” end credits, there’s a brief scene.

Box Office, Oct. 5: “Venom” put the bite on No. 1, opening with $80 million, the biggest October weekend opening ever (“Gravity” was the previous October opening weekend record-holder with $55.7 million in 2013), keeping “A Star Is Born” opening at No. 2, with $41.2 million for the weekend and $42.6 million since opening Oct. 4, as “Smallfoot” dropped one place to No. 3 with $14.9 million, $42.7 million, two weeks, and “Night School” dropped out from No. 1 with $12.2 million, $46.7 million, two weeks.

5. “The House With A Clock In Its Walls,” dropping two places with $7.2 million, $55 million, three weeks. 6. “A Simple Favor” dropped two places, $3.4 million, $49 million, four weeks. 7. “The Nun” dropped two places, $2.6 million, $111.3 million, five weeks. 8. “Hell Fest” dropped two places, $2 million, $8.8 million, two weeks. 9. “Crazy Rich Asians” dropped two places, $2.1 million, $169.1 million, eight weeks. 10. “The Predator” dropped two places, $900,000, $49.9 million, four weeks.

Unreel, Oct. 12:

“First Man,” PG-13: Damien Chazelle (Oscar winner, “La La Land”) directs Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke and Kyle Chandler in the Biography Drama about astronaut Neil Armstrong and the space mission where he became the first man to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969.

“Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween,” PG: Ari Sandel directs the voice talents of Jack Black, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Madison Iseman, Ken Jeong in the Animated feature film Comedy sequel based on R.L. Stine’s book series.

“Bad Times at the El Royale,” R: Drew Goddard directs Chris Hemsworth, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, and Jeff Bridges in the Mystery Thriller. Lake Tahoe’s fictional El Royale, a rundown hotel, is the setting for the story on a fateful night.

“Beautiful Boy,” R: Felix Van Groeningen directs Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney, and Christian Convery in the Biography Drama. The film is based on the memoirs of father and son David and Nic Sheff about their family battling drug addiction.

“The Oath,” R: Ike Barinholtz directs Billy Magnussen, Tiffany Haddish, John Cho, and Ike Barinholtz in the Comedy. The Thanksgiving table is the setting for a family who dish about politics.

Two Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes