The studio behind Kubo and the Two Strings, ParaNorman, and Coraline brings us a story of a lonely sasquatch.
It’s 1886 and Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman) is a cryptozoologist (minus the scientist part) who dreams of being in the “Society of Great Men.” He makes a bet with the head of the society, Lord Piggot-Dunceby (Stephen Fry), to prove the existence of the Sasquatch. Frost journeys to the Pacific Northwest and quickly finds the Bigfoot (Zach Galifianakis), who reveals he sent a letter to Frost asking for help. The Bigfoot is lonely and asks for Frost’s aid in finding more of its kind in the form of Yeti (Emma Thompson). They are aided by Frost’s ex-girlfriend Adelina (Zoe Saldana) and chased by Piggot-Dunceby’s minion Stenk (Timothy Olyphant).
So, most of the other films by Laika, the studio that made this film, have been fairly dark in tone, whereas this movie is notably lighter. I think that might have biased me a little bit against this movie, because I was constantly waiting for the boom to be lowered. While there are quite a number of fairly dark moments, including a number of near-death scenes involving firearms, it still was overall a lighthearted film. However, despite my expectations being subverted, I did find this movie extremely charming.
First, the animation is exactly as great as you would expect from Laika, with so much attention to detail that I honestly don’t understand how this could have been done without driving most of the animators insane. According to the production notes, there were 110 sets alone for this movie, as well as scenes featuring rain, snow, and sand, all of which interact with the characters. Seriously, who has the dedication to make a film like this shot by shot? Laika, apparently, and it is amazingly well done.
Second, the movie has some good humor in it. Most of it is childish humor, but since it’s a movie for children, that tracks. Zach Galifianakis’s performance as Mr. Link the Bigfoot contains a level of innocence and yearning that somehow comes through when combined with the very elaborate visuals. Perhaps the funniest one-liners, however, come from the very disaffected and sarcastic Yeti Queen played by Emma Thompson. Several of them did have me laughing out loud.
Last, while the plot is simple, the movie mostly focuses on the feelings of its main characters as they go through the adventure. We get a lot of good character moments which make them feel real to us, despite the fact that they are animated. The art style helps with this, giving everyone exaggerated features which allow us to more easily capture their feelings. Everyone has an arc, even if the arc is small or contrary to what we expect, and it allows us to feel like they were all really together on this adventure. It’s a basic tool of storytelling that Laika seems to understand completely and it helps.
Overall, solid film. I mean, it’s a kids movie and I don’t want it to win best animated film (I Lost My Body, which I’ll review soon, is better), but it’s still worth seeing if you have little ones.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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