A well-designed animated feature that has some nice hidden themes to do with the importance of acceptance and tolerance. It’s like getting your kids to eat their vegetables without knowing it. Hopefully, it will rub off on some adults too.
When it comes down to it, sometimes timing isn’t just everything; it can be the only thing. Smallfoot comes out at a time when the world has taken notice of its leadership having little acceptance of other’s beliefs and ideals. Worse, many feel administrations have shown little to no tolerance for those who disagree with them. Smallfoot is an animated film for children that has some nice teachable moments with some consistent laughs along the way.
The films start with a song and dance number by a loveable Yeti named Migo (voiced by Channing Tatum; yes, if there wasn’t anything else Tatum can do, he can sing, he’s delightful at it, and life continues to be unfair for the rest of us) who starts the day with his father Dorgle (Danny DeVito) to signal to the village the day has started by ringing a gong and being slingshot straight into it head first. As he is about to be flung, Migo is distracted by his childhood crush and the Stonekeeper’s daughter, Meechee (Zendaya), who then flies off course and runs into a down plane with a Smallfoot (named for a mythical human creature that only a handful of Bigfoot’s think exist). After telling the tale to his community, he is banished by the Stonekeeper (Common). Pretty soon an opportunistic outdoor television personality Percy Patterson (James Corden) gets wind of talk of a Yeti and wants to make a television special out of it.
Smallfoot is from writer-director Karey Kirkpatrick who adapted one of the best animated features of the 90’s in James and the Giant Peach and co-wrote one of the more underrated British sci-fi comedies in A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He has written a well-designed animated feature that mixes well-timed moments of acceptance, tolerance, and even censorship. Combined this with some old-fashioned Looney Tunes-esque cartoon escapades, which is a not huge surprise since it’s from Warner Brothers Animation Group, his animated film is light, breezy, clever, and has plenty of heart without delving into preachy melodrama.
Smallfoot by no means is a bold political statement. The hidden themes about acceptable and tolerance are subtle. There is no doubt that these are intentional but are magnified by today’s political climate. It might be the animated film children need right now. Having your kids watch Smallfoot is almost like getting them to eat their vegetables without knowing it. Let’s hope some of this rubs off on some adults as well.
It’s a simple matter of timing being everything, you see.
M.N. Miller has been a film and television writer for Ready Steady Cut since August of 2018 and is patiently waiting for the next Pearl Jam album to come out.