Smallfoot is a 2018 American children’s animated fantasy film about a yeti who is convinced that those elusive creatures knowns as “smallfoots” or “humans” really do exist.
Against the better judgement of the leader of his people and nearly everyone else in the village, he seeks out the truth about these mythical beings no matter what the cost may be to him or to his people.
As soon as I saw the trailer for this film, I was intrigued. Critical thinking and skepticism aren’t topics that are typically covered by stories meant for children.
No, this wasn’t written for or against any particular belief (or non-belief) system if anyone is curious. Instead, it was about using critical thinking skills to analyze the evidence, determining what it’s saying, and then following those clues to their logical conclusion(s).
In this case, that meant accepting the possibility that Yetis may not be alone on this planet after all.
As always, I speak of characters in the past tense to avoid spoilers in my reviews. I also needed to leave certain characters out of this for spoiler reasons, so be warned if you google this film before watching it!
Migo was a young, intelligent male yeti who was determined to prove the existence of the smallfoot. His father was named Dorgle.
Meechee was a young, intelligent female yeti who yearned to discover the truth. She was the Stonekeeper’s daughter and Migo’s love interest.
Stonekeeper was the condescending yeti chief and father of Thorp (not pictured) and Meechee. His role in their village was both a spiritual and political one. The stones he wore on his body wrote the laws his species followed, but he also had the ability to speak to the spirit world and discover new laws when it suited him.
Dorgle was a dependable middle-aged yeti who was the village gong ringer and Migo’s widowed father. He took his work seriously and was always on time for it.
Percy Patterson was a British human filmmaker of wildlife documentaries trying to get back in the spotlight. Sometimes this desire for fame pushed him into making unethical choices like bending the truth in order to get more views online.
Brenda was Percy’s co-worker for his show. She didn’t believe in Yetis, but she did have a strong moral code that guided her every move even when Percy thought she was being too much of a stickler for the rules.
The premise of this film was amazing. Not only were the yetis the protagonists which was a wonderful change from the typical, human-centred approach to stories about mythical creatures, Migo and his people had a well-developed and unique culture that I was eager to learn more about.
One of the most interesting things about their culture were the stones that the Stonekeeper wore as a sort of cloak around him. Each stone contained a different pictograph about something that happened in their past that had taught them a valuable lesson about how they should live.
Discovering and interpreting them was a major facet of the Stonekeeper’s job. I loved the way his reaction to that responsibility was portrayed, especially during the earlier scenes before Migo began his quest to find out if the legend of the smallfoot was true.
I also enjoyed the reactions of the various villagers to Migo’s quest. Some of them supported him, while others were suspicious of his intentions or horrified at the thought that the stonekeeper might be wrong about his interpretations of certain stones.
Yes, there are obvious parallels between these scenarios and our world. I’ll leave it up to all of you to put the pieces together. What you should know is that despite the strong fantasy setting this film is ultimately pro-science, pro-logic, and pro-truth.
It didn’t bash anyone or anything. It simply asked the audience to think critically about what they’re told and compare it to what they’ve observed about the world around them. That is something I find incredibly refreshing.
With that being said, I did feel like the filmmakers never quite knew what to do with all of these big ideas they broke down into concepts that small children can understand. The beginning and ending were well done, but the middle sagged for me.
While I do expect animated stories to include silly scenes, there were so many of them in this film that the plot dragged on in places it should have kept up the pace in my opinion. This made it hard for me to keep paying attention even though I was interested in how everything would be tied up in the end.
Was this worth watching? Yes. Would I watch it again? Probably not. But it is something worth putting on for small children or while you’re working on something else.
Smallfoot is available on Crave and Apple TV.