Plot: An isolated village of yeti citizens is self sufficient and runs like clockwork, as everyone fills a specific role and for the good of the community, the yetis pitch in and make sure things go as planned. Migo is young, but he can see first hand how important these roles can be, as his family has been in charge of waking up the sun for generations, a job his father Dorgle now fulfills. But one day Migo will take over and if the sun isn’t woken up, the entire yeti village will come to a halt, since that is how the entire process is started each morning. The rules are strict, but the Stonekeeper makes it clear the rules protect the village and those within, though some dissidents believe the rules aren’t as harmless as they might seem. When Migo is curious about the rumors and tries to learn more, he winds up starting an adventure that takes him to unexpected places and could change life at his village forever.
Entertainment Value: Smallfoot seems to be more ambitious than most animated films aimed at young audiences, as it tackles issues like totalitarianism and organized religion, at least in premise. The movie softens as the narrative unfolds, but it does dish out some savage barbs at times, so at least the writers threw some punches, even if they couldn’t go all out in that area. Those moments prove to be highlights, as we watch characters that feel much more interesting and deep than most in the genre, seeking out the truth, even if it means pushing back against their entire culture. That might not sound that wild for a typical film, but for a PG movie that seems designed for young viewers, that is impressive, I think. But this is by no means all on those terms, as Smallfoot also drums up the usual slapstick humor, mediocre song routines, and general goofiness, so it is inspired only in bursts. So it does entertain on the expected levels and while it is a little heavy handed in places, the social commentary doesn’t dampen the silliness, so kids should still have fun here. I admire the filmmakers for taking a chance and aiming a little higher than usual, as it helps Smallfoot stand out somewhat, but I wish the overall execution was more consistent and effective. But if you have a younger audience in need of laughs, Smallfoot should deliver.
The movie’s animation is bright, colorful, and well detailed, with some fun character designs and remarkable depth. I saw the film in 3D and it looked impressive, but even in a standard presentation, there is a real presence of depth and as I said, the attention to detail stands out. I love to scan the backgrounds in these animated features to see what kind of little touches have been included and Smallfoot doesn’t disappoint, as even mundane scenes are sprinkled with interesting elements. The animation looks smooth and refined, perhaps not quite on par with Pixar, but that’s the high watermark, so it isn’t a complaint at all. The yeti designs are a lot of fun, staying close to the established look, but with some funky twists. I also appreciate the heavier narrative elements more, since the characters look so silly and carefree. The voice cast is eclectic, with talent like James Corden, Channing Tatum, Gina Rodriguez, Danny DeVito, Zendaya, and Patricia Heaton, as well as basketball legend Lebron James and Rick & Morty star Justin Roiland, so this is a fun group.
The Disc: This Blu-ray release from Warner Brothers looks excellent, as you’d expect from such a new release and how visually dynamic Smallfoot is. The image is crystal clear and razor sharp, so the animation shines and you are drawn into the movie’s world with ease. The colors are rich and vibrant, with pristine, bright whites and deep blacks, just a beautiful presentation. On the extras front, we have a sing-a-long version of Yeti Set Go, music videos, and an animated Smallfoot mini-movie.