“If there’s a question causing you to go astray, just stuff it down inside of you until it goes away”
This is the teaching religiously followed by a community of Yetis living on top of a mountain, high above the clouds. This Bigfoot village believes that the world came out of the butt of the Great Sky Yak, and that the whole mountain is carried on the back woolly mammoths. Every morning, the gong-ringer has to sound the gong so that the giant glowing snail would travel across the sky, signaling the start of a day. These may sound ridiculous and nonsensical but for the Yetis in Karey Kirkpatrick’s animated film “Smallfoot”, questioning these “truths” is blasphemy. You don’t go around asking things like, “if the mountain is carried by mammoths, then what’s carrying the mammoths?” You stuff these sacrilegious thoughts away until you get back that bliss brought by ignorance.
These Truths are set in stone (literally) and carried (again, literally) by the Village Stonekeeper (Common). One of the cardinal Truths that the village lives by is that “Smallfoots” aka humans don’t exist. But a secret club within the village believes that the Smallfoot is real. After all, the fact that there’s a Stone stating that that they don’t exist, is already testament in itself to their existence!
But when a yeti gong-ringer apprentice named Migo (Channing Tatum) finally meets one of these mythical beings with small feet, he begins to question the Stones. This is where the film starts becoming interesting. Migo is banished simply because he does not conform to the Village’s beliefs. For an animated film about fictional creatures, “Smallfoot” sure has a lot of commentary about society. It challenges blind faith, explores moral dilemmas, and even brushes on our generation’s hunger for internet fame.
The film goes dark midway through storyline, when Migo brings a human to their village to prove that the Smallfoot truly does exist. Sensing the unease brought by the discovery, the Stonekeeper decides to tell Migo the truth about the village rules. Apparently, it is all an elaborate scheme that the earlier Stonekeepers made up to protect their village from humans. Migo has to decide: should he tell everyone the truth and risk destroying their village, or let everyone live comfortably in ignorance?
I appreciate the fact that “Smallfoot” is brave enough to encourage young viewers to question established beliefs. Because of this I’m willing to let go of its glaring flaws, like the wobbly storyline, and an uninspired soundtrack, but with the exception of Common’s chilling “Let it Lie” rap, which is really the only memorable song in the film (listen to it here). “Smallfoot” asks you to be critical of society, and I think you can’t be too young to do that.
2018 / ANIMATION, ADVENTURE, COMEDY
Screenplay:Karey Kirkpatrick, Clare Sera
Cast: Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya, Common
“A Yeti is convinced that the elusive creatures known as “humans” really do exist.”