Smallfoot Parent Guide
Smallfoot features occasional humor, lots of slapstick violence and some negative messages about authority figures.
Parent Movie Review
Migo (voiced by Channing Tatum), lives in a world of apparent perfection. He’s a valued member of a yeti community on a rugged Himalayan peak where, since time immemorial, members of his mythical species have maintained a peaceful village. Everyone in town has a specific job to do—like polishing ice with the help of a friend’s furry backside, or even waking the sun each morning by being catapulted head-first against an enormous gong.
All of these activities are dictated by the village leader—the sagacious Stonekeeper, (voiced by rapper Common,) who records and interprets the community’s laws and stories using pictographs painted on stones. No matter how absurd their assigned task, or how outlandish the Stonekeeper’s teachings, the yetis are encouraged to accept his direction without question. They often repeat the mantra that doubts must be pushed down deep inside until they disappear.
But Migo’s comfortable existence changes abruptly when he stumbles across a stranded human. After being told his entire life that these smallfooted creatures were only imaginary, and that nothing exists outside the yetis’ mountain home, the encounter turns Migo’s beliefs upside down, leading him to question the honesty of the all-knowing Stonekeeper. Things get even worse when the Smallfoot escapes his grasp, leaving no evidence that the meeting ever happened. Not surprisingly, Migo’s indoctrinated community doesn’t believe his story, and he soon becomes a social outcast. With the help of four other non-conformists, (voiced by Zendaya, LeBron James, Ely Henry and Gina Rodriguez) Migo sets out into the unknown — in this case, the dense ring of clouds isolating the mountain peak from the rest of the world — to find a Smallfoot and clear his name.
Meanwhile, in a presumably remote Himalayan village, (all the signage is English, and characters drive cars and snow mobiles — maybe it’s just really touristy?) Percy (voiced by James Corden), has come to film a documentary. This washed out TV star no longer cares about educational programming. Instead, he’s desperate to bolster his popularity by becoming an internet sensation, and has decided that filming a yeti, (real or otherwise,) is the best possible way of doing so. The parallels between Percy’s lack of principles and the dishonesty rampant in the yeti community are obvious—almost as predictable as Percy and Migo’s eventual collision.
Jumping between Percy’s perspective of the ensuing journey and Migo’s attempts to explain himself to his furry friends and family, the movie manages some creative and genuinely funny moments. But these are diluted by an excess of slapstick scenarios: characters fall off cliffs, get hit by airplanes, are squished, trampled, crushed, shot at, pummelled, stuffed in bags, rolled down mountain sides, and basically subjected to every possible form of injury a cartoon character can suffer. If this sounds grisly, don’t panic. Yetis and humans alike prove completely indestructible and the violence is played for humor, avoiding any feeling that the characters are actually in peril. No one dies, even after some pretty crazy vehicle accidents. And any resulting injuries are limited to a single drop of blood on a hurt foot and a bad case of altitude sickness. All the same, these goofy antics quickly stretch to tedious lengths — evidence of a flimsy plot stretched too thin by the hour and a half run time.
Perhaps more troubling to parents is the film’s obvious agenda. The Stonekeeper, portrayed as a religious leader turned master manipulator, has no qualms about lying to his faithful followers—even when it means subjecting them to unsafe work practices or turning them against their own family members. Meanwhile, the yetis are easily duped, only rescued by a team of youngsters who defy authority, break the rules, and aren’t concerned about putting themselves in harm’s way in the quest for proof. While the film toes the line of encouraging healthy curiosity and critical thinking, it still resorts to tired stereotypes. These include adult figures who prove untrustworthy, a romanticized rebellion led by youth, and a naive public that happily adapts in a matter of minutes to losing an entire way of life. Perhaps these over-simplistic and unrealistic responses should be expected in a children’s movie—after all, this is an animated film about mythical creatures. And it’s likely that these messages will fly over the heads of the tots giggling at the furry monsters on screen. But for a film that preaches the values of an open mind and wide perspective, this attempt is truly abominable. And that’s a shame.Directed by Karey Kirkpatrick, Jason Reisig. Starring Zendaya, Channing Tatum, Gina Rodriguez. Running time: 97 minutes. Theatrical release September 28, 2018. Updated December 13, 2018
Watch the trailer for Smallfoot
Rating & Content Info
Why is Smallfoot rated PG? Smallfoot is rated PG by the MPAA for some action, rude humor, and thematic elements.
Violence: Slapstick antics are depicted throughout; characters deliberately bang their heads into solid objects, or are accidentally hit by airplanes, dropped off cliffs, chased by wild animals, crushed by rocks, rolled down mountains, or pursued by other characters. A character injures his foot—a drop of blood is shown. Characters are shot by tranquilizer darts.
Sexual Content: The script features fairly frequent scatological humor, including poop and butt jokes, and the occasional slang term. A character is shot in the backside with a tranquilizer dart.
Profanity: Slang terms are used to describe feces, some mild name-calling.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A character is shot with a tranquilizer dart, and staggers around with slurred speech.
Page last updated December 13, 2018
Smallfoot Parents' Guide
The importance of honesty is a theme throughout this film. Why is it sometimes tempting to be dishonest? What consequences could result from those choices? What affect could dishonesty have on the people around you?
The Stonekeeper uses rules to control the yeti community. What rules are you asked to obey? Are rules always bad? When we don’t understand rules, who can we ask for help? What should we do if we disagree with a rule?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Scott Magoon’s children’s picture book The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot retells the traditional story of the boy who cried wolf. This charming book can be enjoyed even by young children.
The Littlest Bigfoot, by Jennifer Weiner, is a heartwarming story about kids who don’t fit in. Because it contains bullying, it is probably not suitable for kids under eight years of age.