Director: Karey Kirkpatrick, Jason Reisig
Cast: Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya
Studio: Warner Brothers
As warm and fuzzy as the Yeti is in Smallfoot appear, there is a very sobering message about organized belief systems and human nature snuggled into the narrative.
The Yeti, a.k.a. Abominable Snowman, a.k.a. Meh-The, has been a fundamental part of the belief systems in Nepal and Bhutan. Its appearance in Western cryptozoology tomes didn’t appear until the 19th century – the peak of European colonialism, naturally, which is where we uncovered tales of Mokele-Mbembe, the Yowie, Moa and other animals lurking in the darkest depths of unchartered territory.
When it comes to the most iconic sightings, the photo taken on the Menlung Glacier by Eric Shipton in 1951, during the British Mount Everest reconnaissance expedition, which featured Sir Edmund Hilary.
But really, now’s not the time to go into a bunch of crazyheads climbing a rock that has a high chance of killing them.
Smallfoot follows an intrepid gong-ringer in waiting who misses his mark on a practice launch and stumbles upon a plane crash with a “small foot”.
Migo is the yeti’s name, and aptly so, as Migo means “wild man” in Tibetan. Channing Tatum provides the voice of the epiphany-prone hominid who quickly runs back to his village to report his discovery. He is promptly banished for causing a panic and challenging the rules as laid out by the stones.
The stones, which almost parallel the tablets or scrolls to which modern Christianity is etched into. And this is the prevailing theme throughout the story, as Migo’s curiosity continues. He uncovers a secret group, the Smallfoot Evidentiary Society, including the daughter of the Stonekeeper – another play on Tibetan words for yeti, Mee-chee, and they set about finding evidence to clear Migo’s name.
Throughout history, there have been people who have challenged the ideas and beliefs of established, organized religion. Migo could very well be the Galileo Galilei of his hominid hometown.
Still, the messages are deep in Smallfoot. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, which to the Yeti is blaspheme, and above all means speak the truth.
When Migo does eventually find a smallfoot, the has-been nature guru, Percy, voiced by James Corden, the entire village is cast into turmoil, leading the Stonekeeper to share the real story behind why the yeti live on a floating mountain held up by mammoths (another allegedly extinct species).
This is when he learns about the hideous nature of humans. And as much as I want to think better of my fellow humans if it ever came out that another intelligent hominid species existed, well our society would have a nervous breakdown.
To think that video by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin or the aforementioned tracks snapped by Shipton on the 1951 expedition and the Myakka Skunk Ape photographs are actually valid would send our culture into a tizzy.
“Kill it with fire” or “Dissect to find out how it’s made” would be the two most common phrases. Humans are explained as being monsters who see any aberrations of nature, or anything as smart as them, as being a threat and monsters themselves.
It’s true we are a savage, destructive species – no matter how advanced we may seem. It’s a similar theme that’s repeated in children’s films like Hotel Transylvania.
Now, besides the fact there is little reaction to the existence of mammoths by humans in this film, the warm fuzzies of yeti truth and the benefits of not being blindly faithful are the key takeaways.
As the old saw goes, “The truth will set you free,” and for the yeti in this film, the truth is finally revealed to the village with a positive outcome.
Photo courtesy Warner Bros.