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MOVIE REVIEW

Smallfoot also known as “Smallfoot: Uma Aventura Gelada,” Smallfoot: Il mio amico delle nevi,” “Apróláb,” “Smallfoot: Ein Eisigartiges Abenteuer,” “PéPequeno,” “Ο μικροπόδαρος,” “Pie Pequeño,” “Yeti: Ledové dobrodružství,” “Pikkujalka,” “Yéti and Compagnie,” “Mala Stopa,” “Küçük Ayak,” “Mazoji peda,” “Piepequeño,” «Малката стъпка», «Смолфут»

MPAA Rating: PG-Rating (MPAA) for some action, rude humor, and thematic elements.

Reviewed by: Shawna Ellis
CONTRIBUTOR

Average—with caution
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
• Kids • Pre-Teens • Family • Teens
Genre:
Musical Animation Family Adventure Comedy Adaptation
Length:
1 hr. 36 min.
Year of Release:
2018
USA Release:
September 28, 2018 (wide—4,000+ theaters)
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Relevant Issues
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➤Why do so many Hollywood films include a message that implies that children should NOT trust their parents and that kids are being lied to by their parents? or that parents are not very smart and are wrong—and the kids prove it in the end?

Importance of DISCERNMENT in viewing films

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Consider, what if practically everything that the Atheist and Humanist worldview tells people about the nature of reality is wrong and a series of lies and deceptions?

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In what does FEAR of rejection and of peer pressure play a part in people’s acceptance of the worldview of Secularism, Evolutionism, Atheism and Humanism?

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

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What is the Bible’s stand on people telling LIES to others with the excuse that they are simply trying to protect them—or do something good for them.

In what ways is it misguided and dangerous for parents (especially followers of Christ) to tell their kids that Santa, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy are real?

Lies versus Truth

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What political messages are likely being presented in this children and family film—considering its content and the producers and actors involved?

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Mythical creatures


Kid Explorers™
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
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Featuring: Channing TatumMigo (voice)
James CordenPercy (voice)
Zendaya … Meechee (voice)
CommonStonekeeper (voice)
LeBron James … Gwangi (voice)
Danny DeVitoDorgle (voice)
Gina Rodriguez … Kolka (voice)
Yara Shahidi … Brenda (voice)
Ely Henry … Fleem (voice)
Jimmy Tatro … Thorp (voice)
Patricia HeatonMama Bear (voice)
See all »
Director: Karey Kirkpatrick—“Over the Hedge” (2006), screenplay writer for “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” (2005)
Producer: John Requa—A writer of “Bad Santa” and “Bad Santa 2” / A Director of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” “Crazy Stupid Love” and “Focus

Glenn Ficarra—A writer of “Bad Santa” and “Bad Santa 2” / A Director of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” “Crazy Stupid Love” and “Focus

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Distributor: Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures. Trademark logo.
Warner Bros. Pictures

A message film from the producers of “Bad Santa” 1-2 and “I Love You Phillip Morris

I initially signed up to review “Smallfoot” thinking it would be a mindless kids movie and thus a simple and straightforward review. What could be challenging about a young Yeti who discovers that humans actually do exist? It seemed like a cute, clever and totally harmless premise. Then I began reading some comments about how the film is intended as an allegory about how we should question or deny religious tradition, and I steeled myself to watch it. As I settled into my seat, I was prepared to witness an attack against the things I hold very dear. I did not get quite what I expected, and I do not think the movie had its intended effect on me.

Whatever the filmmakers” intentions might have been, “Smallfoot” speaks volumes about seeking the TRUTH, and so I actually find it supports Christianity rather than subverts it. “Smallfoot” does blatantly present an attack against having blind faith in what we are taught, in following ancient traditions which are not to be questioned and in trusting the leaders who espouse them. And although on the surface that would seem to be an attack against Christianity, to me it could just as easily be an attack on the modern worldview of never questioning Evolution, relying on man’s “wisdom” above the clear evidence of God we see in the natural world, and the ludicrous premise that there is no such thing as absolute truth. I have observed that there is little room for criticism and no tolerance for the questioning of certain “accepted beliefs” in secular circles. For a worldview which claims to follow reason and science, adherents to current atheistic academic beliefs often allow no deviation, with threat of banishment and ostracism if their tenets are questioned.

The movie opens with a jaunty expositional song performed by a likable young Yeti called Migo (Channing Tatum), during which we learn many details about Yeti society in their hidden cloud island. The Yetis in this secret village are never to question the many commandment-like stones which govern them or the Stonekeeper who interprets them. Through Migo’s song and dialog afterward, we learn some of the traditional beliefs which are written on the stones, such as how the first Yetis “fell out of the butt of the great sky yak” or how hitting the gong each morning is the only way to make the giant fire snail crawl across the sky.

The Yetis in the village work all day to drop chunks of ice down into a hole to feed the great unseen mammoths which hold the sky island upon their backs and which keep their home from falling away into nothingness. These and other silly myths are clearly meant as a mockery of traditional creation beliefs, but I find them no more ludicrous than the “scientifically accepted” position that our world came from nothing and that we are here because of random chance and billions of years of unguided Evolution.

How to witness to atheists

How can we know there’s a God? Answer

What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer

If God made everything, who made God? Answer

Migo is happily accepting of all that he has been taught until an encounter with a human being (a mythical “smallfoot” which the stones say do not exist) forces him to see that perhaps everything he believes could be mistaken. Migo’s insistence that Smallfoot is real leads him to join a small band of other Yetis who have questioned the stones and who feel that there may be more beyond their island in the clouds.

While I thought the movie would be mostly about Migo’s quest to find the Smallfoot, it is really about how one’s worldview can change when we encounter undeniable truth. Migo feels compelled to share his newfound discovery with his village, but not everyone is happy to hear about the finding of the Smallfoot. Migo wrestles with what to do with his knowledge of the truth and the repercussions it could have on his happy but ignorant society.

Much of the allegory will be far above the heads of very young children but should provide lots to think about for preteens through adults. Can a lie be a “good” lie? Should we ever be willing to deny the truth in order to protect others? Is it okay to question what we have always been taught? I am actually thankful for a film which presents a platform for such thought… or better yet, discussion. Even if this film may have been intended to cause viewers to doubt religious teachings, it is always good to examine why we believe what we believe.

I am saddened when I hear about teens who question their faith and are told to “just believe” without being given any of the many solid evidences in favor of the Bible’s accuracy. If people are not given a reason TO believe, why is it any surprise that many walk away from Christianity when life gets hard or when the things they have always been taught are challenged?

We need to not only have a reason for believing what we do, we need to be prepared to share and defend it. We are told to always be ready with an answer for those who ask us about the hope that we have (I Peter 3:15). “Because that’s what I was taught” is never an answer that will hold up to much scrutiny, and if that is the only answer we can give for why we believe, we need to examine and prepare ourselves. In today’s time with so many resources for strong Christian apologetics, we are without excuse if we can’t offer an answer for why we believe what we believe. Jesus is not threatened by the world’s lame attempts to dethrone Him.

The young children in the audience at my viewing delighted in the fast-paced comedy action, but did not seem to get the more subtle humor in “Smallfoot.” I heard a few mild chuckles from adults, but much of the writing seemed to fall a little flat. The message of questioning everything was continual and seemed a bit too forced at times. Likewise, “Smallfoot” tries almost too hard to be a morality tale about accepting others who we once feared. Characters change for the better, which is nice, but I feel as if the movie is trying to make too many points and commentaries along the way.

The animation style is bright and cartoonish, with beautiful mountain backgrounds and enough variation between Yeti characters that there is no confusion. The vocal acting was solid, and most of the songs were nice additions.

This film is marketing itself as something of an animated musical, and there is vocal talent on display. In particular, a song by Zendaya (portraying Meechee) about how we should look more closely at the world around us to find truth actually resonated with me. Indeed, if we examine the natural world, we will see the handiwork of God there (Romans 1:20). And if we wholeheartedly seek God, He will be found by us (1 Chronicles 28:9).

If moviegoers take the advice of this song and look more closely at what’s all around them, they should actually be drawn closer to God. Lyrics encourage the listener to “be the seeker of the truth, listen when you hear it calling you, you know it’s calling you.” If the filmmakers hoped this song about seeking truth would lead people away from belief in the One who actually calls Himself “the Truth” and who calls out to everyone to accept Him, this song might backfire on them. I was actually surprised to hear so much about seeking the truth in this film, considering that the world’s “wisdom” tells us there is no such thing as absolute truth, and that “what is true for you might not be true for me.'

In the closing credits, a song by Niall Horan about being set free by the truth could just as easily be a celebration of the freedom we have in Christ. There is certainly no such freedom and joy to be found in believing the atheistic worldview that we came from nothing and are going to nothing.

One song sequence has some mildly disturbing visuals in which stylized Yetis are seen being hunted by savage humans. This song, performed by the Stonekeeper (Lebron James), encourages Migo to keep silent even when he has discovered the truth about Smallfoot. In contrast to the songs about seeking truth and about being set free by the truth, this is a subversive song which says, “what’s true or not true is in the eye of the beholder.” Now, here is the worldview content I expected! It is interesting that this song is performed by the character who supposedly represents religious tradition, yet he is actually spouting the mantra of the current Secular Humanists.

Some of these musical numbers are shown in such a stylized way that children may not understand the story-telling which is taking place, especially during the lengthy karaoke performance by floundering nature show host Percy (James Corden—“The Late Late Show with James Corden”). I heard several children asking their parents what was happening at these times. I also felt some restlessness around me due to the length of the musical selections.

Content of Concern

Some scenes could be a little disturbing for sensitive children. Characters are chased, shot with tranquilizers, and otherwise threatened. Vehicles and helicopters crash. A prolonged scene takes place in a bar and some are seen drinking.

In a repeated gag, Yetis are curious about the usage of human size toilet paper which they think is a “scroll of invisible wisdom.”

A character tells someone, “I am your god.”

A few crude terms include: “crap,” “butt,” and “sucks” are used perhaps twice each. The minced oath “gosh” is used, as well as what sounds like “holy wow-ness.”

Characters lie for various purposes, and some are referred to as “good” lies. Other times lies are shown as being wrong and dangerous.

Percy shows a video clip of a “twerking hog” and laments that it gets more views than his nature show.

Some people might reject this film because on the surface it seems anti-Bible and anti-God. Although this may have been intended by the filmmakers, it does not have to be the final take-away. One of the characters in “Smallfoot” says something like this: “Truth is complicated and can be scary, but it’s better than believing a lie.” Truth is what we should always seek. We should blindly accept nothing, and our Lord does not ask us to do so. He has given us a world which showcases His creativity and declares His glory. He has given us His Word which resounds with truth and reason. Its claims can be answered. Its Author can be trusted. Its Savior can be called upon. Faith is not blindly accepting the flawed traditions of men… it is trusting completely in the One who made us and sustains us. And when we do so, we see that empty traditions, the world’s lies and the secular teachings of mere man that we may have once believed now ring false.

If you take your children or teens to see “Smallfoot,” be prepared to discuss these things.

  • Violence: Mild
  • Profane language: None
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Minor
  • Nudity: None
  • Sex: None
  • Occult: None
Editor’s Note: There were 7 screenwriters involved in writing “Smallfoot” and not all share the same worldview. There is John Requa and Glenn Ficarra, who both wrote and directed the extremely offensive movie “I Love You Phillip Morris,” Karey Kirkpatrick, Clare Sera, Sergio Pablos, Eyal Podell, and Jonathon E. Stewart. Clare Sera is reportedly a practicing Christian and told Movieguide her personal viewpoint on the authority figure in the story. She said he “was doing what he believed was best. …His sin was to believe safety/status quo was more important than truth—and he was wrong and somebody had to come against him… truth, the real deep, rock-solid core of it, is God, who never changes. That is comforting. That’s why we have nothing to fear from the truth, and everything to fear from lying to keep a status quo that can never last anyway. Doesn’t make it easy.”

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Neutral
Neutral—“Smallfoot” is a fairly good kids movie with one disturbing caveat. I wanted to warn parents that the film revolves around a thinly veiled anti-religious allegory. The Yetis follow laws and religion “written in stone” called the “stones.” Aside from making the religion sound silly and superstitious, we are told that “questioning” the stones is bad.

Over and over again we are led to believe that religion (presumably including Christians) does not allow questions or searching. In the end we learn that the High Priest knows the truth but lies to his people out of fear. Again the idea is that all religions are founded on fear. While the film does not specifically attack Christianity, it is a not so subtle attack on religion and certainly includes Christianity. Parents should be warned of this subtle attack aimed at children.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Dr. D., age 51 (USA)
Neutral—This movie is going to get mixed reviews. It could be considered an attack on religion or it could be a lesson in following the truth, wherever it leads. The book and movie “Case for Christ” comes to mind as a recommendation in this regard for someone really seeking the truth.

I used it as a lesson to our 9 year old to stand on what the Bible says and seek the truth regarding any questions you have about life and things people challenge you about.

I don’t think it’s for younger kids. My 5 and 3 year old kept asking when it will be over.

I wouldn’t recommend spending money to see it.

Morally, there are no bad words, except saying the first person came out of some animal’s behind. And no sexual content. They did imply through drawings that there were killings in the past.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Brett, age 41 (USA)
Neutral—I’m writing my own review of this movie due to the claims of anti-religious propaganda this movie has to offer. I watched the movie last night, and to be honest, I felt this movie was in fact a direct attack against those that cling to belief in God, and would agree with the comments. However, today, I came across a very interesting interview with MovieGuide with [one of] Smallfoot’s screenwriter[s], who is a Christian, who offered her own interpretation as to what she was trying to convey.

She expressed that the movie is about authority figures in life refusing to belief in truth, and clinging to falsehoods entirely out of fear. The sin of the stonekeeper (religious leader of the yetis) was to believe that status and safety quo were more important than truth.

If anyone wishes to read the interview in it’s entirety, search for “Christian Screenwriter of SMALLFOOT Shares Her Inspiration Behind the Movie”…

I will give this movie a Neutral rating, because even though the screenwriter’s intentions may have been pure, it is clear to me that if Christians can interpret this film as having a anti-religious message, non-believers can come to that interpretation as well.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Veryan, age 29 (Canada)
Negative
Negative—I just came back from seeing “SmallFoot.” It is a blatant work of anti-God propaganda. In the words of the film’s writer, “SmallFoot” is an allegory about how religions try to control us.” His intentions for the film are not hidden, and the writer is honest about that. But that’s where the honestly seems to end.

To show how “religions control us,” the filmmakers must misrepresent “religion.” Sadly, they’re using the kind of willful deception they accuse “religion” of.

The film falsely characterizes people of faith as either totally ignorant. Or as those who hesitatingly accept what they believe to be false. It portrays us as oppressed, fearful, uneducated, and unwilling to question anything.

The main spiritual leader in the story is critical in how the film undermines trust in “religion.” He uses deception, and fear to control the society. He’s unloving to his own son. He demands blind allegiance from his people—or they will be excommunicated. The film condescendingly excuses his religious tyranny because “he’s doing what he thinks is best.” Sigh.

No doubt—religion has much to answer for. The Lord Jesus strongly rebuked the religious leaders of the day. And let’s be honest—religion, as an institution of men, hasn’t changed since then. But “SmallFoot” makes no distinction between corrupt man-made religion, and faith in the true Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In “SmallFoot,” ALL faith is ignorance.

So in the end, “SmallFoot” is not the open-minded, loving film it pretends to be. Instead, it’s designed to convince children that all religious faith is ignorance. That all religious belief is borne out of fear or naivety—not facts and reason. “SmallFoot” wants to undermine trust in God’s Word, and discourage faith in God. I can see how it could achieve that goal in young minds who get caught up in the emotion, and excitement of the film.

I strongly recommend skipping “SmallFoot.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Chris, age 48 (Canada)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.

Secular Movie Critics
…“Smallfoot” is an allegory about how religions try to control us, and how our best response is with love for our natural world and fellow creature, no matter how well we understand them or not, with a clear statement on race relations in the United States (and worldwide). …
Karey Kirkpatrick, Film Bunker
… The story reaches it resolution in the most predictable of ways, but there’s something undeniably ballsy about a children’s film that’s so insistent about pushing young viewers to think bigger, to be open to new ideas and question culturally coded notions of good and evil, even if it means questioning everything that their parents have ever told them. [2½/4]
Ed Gonzalez, Slant magazine
Producers John Requa and Glenn Ficarra have generally kept a wide berth between their kid-friendly projects (“Storks,” “Cats & Dogs”) and their more adult material (“Bad Santa,” “I Love You Phillip Morris”). The best parts of “Smallfoot” see them finding a middle ground, espousing plot points and messaging that you don’t usually find in family fare. Lurking within this animated tale of yetis and humans are such forward-thinking notions as, “Question everything, including religion,” “Governments use public safety as an excuse for misleading the populace when they really just want to control people,” and “Tribalism benefits people in power more than the communities they claim to want to protect.” …
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
…“Smallfoot” doesn’t always trust the music’s ability to move the story along, so the movie proceeds in fits and starts… Is the Yeti group’s mission against its society’s mindless conformity or in favor of lunatic-fringe conspiracy theories? Obviously the movie lands more or less in favor of facts (spoiler: humans do exist) triumphing over the gaslighting and fake news espoused by the Stonekeeper—but not before a big song from Zendaya muddies the waters by extolling the virtues of, essentially, listening to your gut. …
Jesse Hassenger, The A.V. Club
…actually far more interested in exploring parallels to religion and questioning not just the world around you, but the very people who are dictating what you should think… has Saskatchewan-ambition alongside properly functioning as lighthearted fun for the whole family. [3]
Robert Kojder, Flickering Myth
…a musical, “teachable moment” animated delight… what we have here is a movie puts fact and science in opposition to fear, ignorance and superstition. The team of “Smallfoot” screenwriters take pains to not say “religion,” but they both criticize it and recognize its place in culture and history. …[3/4]
Roger Moore, Movie Nation
…a musical that tries too hard to educate kids and not hard enough to entertain them… [C]
Jude Dry, IndieWire
Smallfoot’s heavy-handed messaging and by-the-numbers approach thunder like an avalanche… the movie’s tunes…are hectic more than lively…
Sarah Ward, Screen Daily
…far cry from Warner’s cartoon glory days… [3½]
Sandra Hall, The Sydney Morning Herald