Has modern animation been so good for so long that we’ve become spoiled? There was a time when our eyeballs would’ve been downright drunk on a movie like Abominable. I mean, we see millions of colors. Moments of visual poetry. And all at the service of a perfectly sturdy story. So, why do so many good things add up to so much “meh”?
Unfortunately, Abominable borrows from so many sources that’s almost difficult to keep up: E.T. Smallfoot. Missing Link. How to Train Your Dragon. Pod People. Hell, there’s even a dash of Goonies mixed in for good measure. Your kids will probably love it, and you might like it more than you think. I just can’t dodge the fact that a beautiful Xerox is still just a copy.
Our story begins as an adolescent Yeti escapes from the clutches of an evil tycoon (voice of Eddie Izzard), who wants to expose the beast, Kong-style. The Yeti finds his way to the roof of Yi (Chloe Bennet), a plucky teen still reeling from the death of her father. As you might expect, these lonely, misunderstood souls quickly form a bond. She dubs him “Everest,” after the faraway mountain of his own kind. Yi vows to help Everest get home at all costs. For this quest, she enlists the help of her sawed-off buddy (Albert Tsai) and his vain-but-likable cousin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor). They venture across Asia, with the evil business dude and his hateful scientist (Sarah Paulson) in hot pursuit.
From here, Abominable tucks in a few nice moments: Yi is a gifted violinist, and Everest is a magical creature powered by music. They awaken something splendid in each other, and it’s a subtle commentary on the healing power of music. Yi comes across as a strong, relatable heroine, who gets fleshed out more than characters in comparable stories. Paulson relishes her turn as an over-the-top villain.
Nothing about Abominable feels bad, but nothing distinguishes it, either. The movie just hangs there, with its gorgeous palate and pleasing soundtrack. Other animated films set a high bar, one that Abominable doesn’t make much effort to clear. Kids may marvel at it, but adults will find they’ve seen this movie a million times before.
97 min. PG.
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