There are times when it is OK to covet the innocent way children can look at something. The latest case is the animated adventure “Smallfoot,” where that naiveté is needed to make it a fun experience.
Director Karey Kirkpatrick (“Over the Hedge”) offers a twist on the myths and legends about Bigfoot (or in this case, Yeti). In the Himalayas, a community of Yeti has been living a hidden existence from the world. There are only rumors of a creature known as the smallfoot.
A young Yeti, Migo (voiced by Channing Tatum), risks his life and goes against the rules in search of a smallfoot. This takes him to a small village where he meets Percy (James Corden), a wildlife adventurer. The smallfoot is proof their existence isn’t just legend. What Migo doesn’t realize is the truth may be more dangerous than legend.
Kirkpatrick tries to make the Yeti world as interesting-looking as possible, but when you have creatures with light-colored fur stomping around a snow-covered town, the kind of color explosions that dazzle young viewers aren’t there. “Frozen” was set in a similar snowy world, but that movie expanded the color range with the use of royal blues and silvers. “Smallfoot” is a vanilla-looking movie from start to finish.
Give Tatum credit for providing surprisingly good vocals for the “Smallfoot” opening tune, “Perfection,” and both Common and Zendaya deliver with their tunes. But, the musical numbers end up being as uninspired as the film’s design.
Overall, the voice talent works, especially Tatum and Common. Tatum has just enough juvenile enthusiasm to make Migo a likable character, while Common gives the community’s top leader, Stonekeeper, enough of a sinister tone to give the movie a workable villain.
The biggest problem is the script, which features a herd of writers with Kirkpatrick and Clare Sera (“Blended”) at the forefront. This is an animated story and some leeway must be given (such as the freezing and thawing of Percy), but there are too many inconsistencies in the story.
In the end, the script for “Smallfoot” looks like a committee got together and tossed out ideas. Those thoughts were swept into a pile and used to tell the story even if none of the ideas connected or made sense.
“Smallfoot” falls into a middle category at every turn. The animation, writing and music are neither good nor bad, making it a project that envelops itself in mediocrity. “Smallfoot” will leave a tiny footprint on the film world.
Starring Channing Tatum, Zendaya and James Corden, Common. Directed by Karey Kirkpatrick.
Rated PG or action scenes, rude humor. Check listings for theaters. 1 hour, 49 minutes.
Bottom line: The script is a problem, but because it’s animated, it gets some leeway
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