Hitting theaters on Sept. 28, Warner Bros. Animation’s Smallfoot is presented as a bright, joyous celebration of life, love and curiosity — but there is a downside.
Set on a cloud-encircled mountaintop that is home to a hard-working community of friendly, innocent, sweet Yetis (a k a the Himalayan version of Bigfoot) informed by their tradition that humans (a k a “Smallfoot”) are just myths, and that they should never question any doctrines. In fact, “Ignorance is bliss” is one of them.
One Yeti accidentally encounters a human, and that sets him on a voyage of discovery to find out what lies beneath the clouds.
The animation is bright and cheerful, the original songs are catchy, and Smallfoot features a quality voice cast. Unfortunately, though, its positive messages about family and curiosity are couched in the notion that belief systems are merely lies told to protect the populace from “the truth.”
It’s hard to escape parallels to what some people wrongly believe about Christianity, that it squelches exploration and intellectual curiosity. For sure, Catholics know that’s not true. Even if individual clergy or religious figures refuse to allow questioning — perhaps because of their own fear or ignorance — the Church has a long and storied intellectual tradition. Just a cruise around modern Catholic websites will turn up a lively discussion and debate of all Church teaching, which is widely available online.
Smallfoot also takes a very negative view of humans. While the Yetis are harmless and blameless, humans come off as mindless destroying monsters (unless they’re entirely devoted to the environment, that is).
Also, the remote village at the bottom of the mountain strangely resembles not so much a Himalayan enclave as an urban Chinatown, awash in garish neon signs.
Any parents of faith that choose to take their children to Smallfoot — and the kids at the screening I attended loved it — should be prepared for a post-movie discussion about what faith truly is and how the film may misrepresent it.
There are a few scary moments but no overt violence of sexuality.
Image: Courtesy Warner Bros. Animation
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