At first glance is the new Warner animated film SMALLFOOT just harmless family nonsense, but there is a smart message behind the latest prank from the makers of “The LEGO Movie”. We reveal more about this in our review.
The Plot Summary
One day, the bright young Yeti Migo (in the USA version: Kostja Ullmann) discovers something that supposedly doesn’t exist – a human being. The news of this “Smallfoot” causes enormous unrest in the simple Yeti community about what else there is in the big world beyond their snowy village. After all, Yeti society has always strictly adhered to the rules of the elders. Migo’s curiosity is piqued and he sets off on a breakneck adventure, during which he discovers the friendly human boy Percy, who until recently thought Bigfoots were just a legend. Together, the two of them work to ensure that humans and yetis finally approach each other and become friends…
Movie explanation of the ending
The more turbulent things are in the world, the more this is usually noticeable in the films made during this time. The US cinema landscape has looked different since Trump’s election than it did when Barack Obama was in office. After Brexit, British productions like “The Party” dealt with this drastic event and films like “Heil” would probably never have existed in United Kingdom if the shift to the right had not been noticeable a few years ago. Such developments even leave their mark in children’s and youth cinema. The best example of this: Detlev Buck’s fourth “Bibi & Tina” adventure, which was originally not supposed to be released and even had a very obvious Trump caricature in it. Those responsible for “Smallfoot” have never officially commented on the extent to which their animated adventure was influenced by global political chaos, but one thing is certain: With its appearance in these wild times, the CGI thriller based on the children’s book “Yeti Tracks” by Sergio Pablos wins an explosiveness and meaningfulness that perhaps would not necessarily have existed a few years ago. Overseen by The LEGO Movie masterminds Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the project takes a family-friendly approach to “adult issues” such as fake news, prejudices and stereotypes, but most importantly, how to overcome and fight against them. The makers manage to do all of this without any moral pointing fingers – even those who just want to have a good time at the cinema with their child will find in “Smallfoot” an adventure packed with slapstick, wordplay and amusing characters, which occasionally even contain trace elements of the typical Lord/Miller -Contains humor.
When they discover Smallfoot Percy, the Bigfoots are thrilled.
The fact that different species come together in an (animated) film and gradually get to know and understand each other is nothing particularly special. “Smallfoot” is no exception to this basic idea and its premise is clearly reminiscent of two famous franchises in particular: In “Monsters AG” people and monsters meet due to a mishap, and the question quickly arises as to who is here who is more afraid. And things are very similar in “Hotel Transylvania”, although it is even more clearly formulated here that it is primarily the famous film monsters who are pretty scared of the inexperienced teenage boy Jonathan. In these two films, the makers play beautifully with the idea of how the prefabricated image of another species is maintained by constantly firing up various clichés until the house of cards collapses when humans and monsters meet in person for the first time. “Smallfoot” takes this idea even further: Not only are there two societies living completely independently of each other (one made up of humans, one made up of yetis), each of them has also spun its own legend for the other. The myth of Bigfoot is the one known in the real world; In contrast, the yetis tell each other about Smallfoot – and both embellish their legends with a lot of imagination.
Of course, in “Smallfoot” both species meet at some point – and this results in many crazy situations for all age groups. On the one hand, it is the difficulties in communication and discovering each other’s habits and things that cause misunderstandings, chaos and therefore a lot of fun. On the other hand, you notice early on that the authors Karey Kirkpatrick and Clare Sera carry through their smart ulterior motive of the gentle message of understanding with equal sensitivity and consistency. What’s special: Because we experience the events through the eyes of two very young protagonists, the creators repeatedly confront us with the attitudes of the conservatives (i.e. the village elders) and the young people and Yetis who are striving for change and communication. As amusing as many of the individual scenes in “Smallfoot” are, the two directors Kirkpatrick are serious about it (“Through the hedge”) and Jason Reisig (responsible for the animation of “Puss in Boots”) with their message. You can also tell by the passion they put into each film element. So here and there they fall short of the average in terms of narrative and in the drawing of their characters (a song about the adventurer Percy’s professional situation was simply not needed – in fact, the isolated vocal performances are not even remotely like that creative as in comparable Disney films, especially since the musical approach is not even consistently thought through). When yetis stumble, crash into a rock with full force, or a chase gets out of control in the best slapstick style, then such gross motor humor is aimed primarily at younger viewers – and at least it works.
The elders watch over everything that happens in the Yeti Village.
Nevertheless, “Smallfoot” is even smarter when you focus on the underlying meaning of the story. Without a specific antagonist, the audience gradually learns where all the prejudices about the other species come from, making it possible to even understand the motives and thoughts of those who initially close themselves off from communication. “Smallfoot” is not an accusation, not an educational film – but it is a prime example of how filmmakers can subliminally enrich their project with more than just gags and a harmless “If you just want to, you can do anything!” message, like that it has now become commonplace, especially in family cinema. This makes “Smallfoot” stand out from the crowd of animated productions, which can only be said to a limited extent when it comes to the technical design. For a CGI trick production from a large major studio, the film looks at best solid (roughly comparable to the last “Ice Age” film), but cannot keep up with the attention to detail of major franchises. The USA dubbing actors are convincing across the board. While the original version includes names like Channing Tatum, James Corden and “Greatest Showman” star Zendaya, in this country it includes Kostja Ullmann (“My blind date with life”) and Aylin Tezel (“Liliane Susewind – An Animal Adventure”) one of the best-known names in the voice cast. They all breathe authentic life into their characters and thereby ground even the most absurd situations, while giving the film the necessary heart in the quiet moments.
Conclusion: “Smallfoot” is a real discovery among this year’s animated films, because the animated adventure, which is sometimes a little over-the-top, contains a subtle message of understanding that could hardly be more timely.
“Smallfoot” can be seen in USA cinemas from October 11th.