This Yeti is actually pretty cool, but too much comedy steals the show.
I was cynical about “Abominable,” the latest feature from Dreamworks Animation, because of how the trailers often portray it as a goofy flick made for younger audiences. When I caught an early screening of it, I’ve realized it is.
In a recent trend of animated comedies to poke fun at the Yeti or Bigfoot myths, “Smallfoot” and “Missing Link” both offered good-natured qualities, thought the former was more profitable than the latter at the box office. Maybe CGI is more popular than stop-motion these days, I dunno. And “Abominable” is another CGI entry aimed to keep the little tykes at bay.
The story begins in Shanghai, where the main heroine is one of the few intriguing humans characters in the movie. She’s a teenager named Yi (voiced by Chloe Bennett from “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), whose father passed away, and is distant from her family. Her father used to play the violin for her as a child, and hides his instrument in secrecy, while scrapping and saving for her to take his dream trip across China.
Her trip becomes a reality, when she finds a yeti on the lam from scientists, who want to collect him. They end up having two cousins join them on their trek to the Himalayas. One is a typically handsome millennial (voiced by Albert Tsai) with embarrassing drama, and the other is short wannabe basketball legend (voiced by Tenzing Norgay Trainor) with silly antics.
And the antagonists are more charming than the sidekicks. One is a wealthy explorer (voiced by Eddie Izzard), who wants to prove to everyone that he’s discovered a yeti in his travels, and the other is a zoologist (voiced by Sarah Paulson with a British accent), who has a little mouse riding on her lab coat. I guess the animators suggested she should look like a movie zoologist, but she has better intentions than that.
“Abominable” is no animated gem, because it offers too much comedy in order to entertain little kids, and how generic the supporting characters often are. The jokes are aimed more for that type of audience, instead of adults, given all the soda gags and the whiny millennial getting his fancy shoes all filthy. I wasn’t really taking this movie seriously, because of those negative aspects.
If you focus more on Yi and the yeti, you might something unique about those characters. The girl struggles to move on with her life, and discovers her true self; and the yeti has magical powers. He can make blueberries and dandelions grow to incredible heights, turn a field of flowers into their own ocean waves, and glow blue. He hums, that’s how.
The animation is likable; not first rate but likable. The best would be when we gaze at the China landscapes, and the rivers, mountains, and forests; and the most generic would be the energy and jokes that pop up.
Too much can go a long way, and I ended up being skeptical about the movie. It has more patience than “The Secret Life of Pets 2” or “The Angry Birds Movie 2,” and some good characters with solid voice work; but given the Dreamwork Animation circumstances, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” had more radiance and balance between humans and creatures than “Abominable.”
Little kids will have fun with this, but not so much for adults, unless they have kids of their own. Tell you the truth, I think both parents and kids aren’t that judgmental about cartoons these days. But that’s just me talking.
Opens Everywhere September 27