Smallfoot

 

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Warner Animation Group's first musical explores inter-species suspicion and dogma with pizzazz and humour.

  

Smallfoot

Tales round the campfire: do human beings really exist?

 

Put yourself in the shoes of the Abominable Snowman. If you lived in such a remote part of the Himalayas, why would you believe that human beings existed? However, the civilisation of the Yeti, situated far above the cloud line, has been around so long that maybe just one of its number might have encountered Homo sapiens. One such is Migo who, after being accidentally catapulted far beyond the reaches of his village, happens to witness the freak crash landing of a “shiny flying thing.” But how can he convince his fellow Yeti of his sighting without being laughed out of the valley?

 

As soundtracks to musical films are once more proving to have commercial clout (in the UK, The Greatest Showman is the top-selling album of the year), the Warner Animation Group has opted to produce a musical for its fifth feature-length cartoon. There are not a lot of songs, but the singers have been chosen wisely. Channing Tatum is the voice of Migo and has a couple of numbers here, having proved his pipes in the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! Percy Patterson, the diminutive biped of the title, is voiced by James Corden, who made his musical mark in Into the Woods and is signed up for the film version of Cats. And as Migo’s love interest, the winsome Meechee, we have Zendaya, who is a professional songbird and played Anne in The Greatest Showman. There’s even a Spice Girl in the mix, although, as Mamma Bear, Emma Bunton doesn’t actually sing, but she does get to roar.

 

While there’s plenty of slapstick to keep younger viewers engaged, the film, with its themes of myth, open-mindedness and TV ratings, should appeal to a wider audience, too. More profoundly, it deals with scripture, faith, belief and religion, but not with a heavy hand. In fact, under the direction of Karey Kirkpatrick (who also co-wrote the songs), the film zips along nicely, with plenty of visual invention and numerous comic touches. With a marketplace congested with crass cartoons, it’s a relief to recommend an animated feature that hasn’t been produced by Disney, DreamWorks, Pixar or Studio Ghibli. If you can believe that.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Voices of  Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya, Common, LeBron James, Danny DeVito, Gina Rodriguez, Yara Shahidi, Ely Henry, Jimmy Tatro, Emma Bunton, Justin Roiland.

 

Dir Karey Kirkpatrick, Pro Bonne Radford, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, Screenplay Karey Kirkpatrick and Clare Sera, from a story by John Requa, Glenn Ficarra and Karey Kirkpatrick, Pro Des Ronald A. Kurniawan, Ed Peter Ettinger, Music Heitor Pereira.

 

Warner Animation Group/Zaftig Films-Warner Bros.

96 mins. USA. 2018. Rel: 12. October 2018. Cert. U.