By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
Every month we do a raffle of sorts to determine who gets to review what. I ask each writer for a list of preferences, cross-reference them to try and get everyone the film they’re most interested in, then start flipping coins if I can’t.
Then Oberst and I take whatever is left. Even then, I usually let him express a preference. So this is probably why I end up reviewing every mediocre or worse-looking animated film that lands a wide release.
Abominable is somehow our second Yeti animated film in two years, but this time he’s a cuddle, non-verbal, How to Train Your Dragon-kinda guy kidnapped by a rich explorer, escaped, and on the lam with a perky Chinese teenager and her two neighbor boys. Will they be able to get him home to Mt. Everest?
I was expecting something a lot more, well, cheap than this. Abominable‘s animation is quite lovely, showcasing a litany of China’s most beautiful sights as well as some wonderfully kinetic setpieces. There’s a lot of care (and budget) put into the visuals here.
There’s also a lot of clear interest in locating a more heartstring-tugging center for the film a la Pixar, and damn it, they do succeed at times. From the classic one dead parent Disney setup to the childlike innocence and goofiness of the Yeti to one particular scene of magical violin playing at the Leshan Buddha, damn if the emotional button-pushing didn’t work on me a few times.
The times that it didn’t, though, felt pretty damn calculated and ham-fistedly manipulative. There’s an awful lot of telling not showing and repetition of character feelings and archetypes.
Basically, this entire awful failure of a film. Yes, worse than Norm of the North.
Most of the humor is of the least common denominator variety- aka Yeti burps, weird Yeti laugh, teenagers and their phones jokes, etc.
This film feels like an odd combination of all of the Dreamworks hits- the human character design of the Despicable Me films, the catlike mannerisms of Toothless, the weird undefined phenomena of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs… wahhh?
Stands to reason.
Yeah, the Yeti has magical powers (because of magical hair?) that only have one thing in common- they’re deployed at exactly the time the plot needs them to be to get them out of danger or move them from place to place.
Abominable is a valiant effort to both attain a Pixar-level of quality and capture the Chinese market. It was about 60% successful at both.
Abominable (2019) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever we see or hear about the violin
Take a Drink: for every Chinese landmark or landscape we see
Take a Drink: whenever you worry about a character’s hygiene
Take a Drink: whenever the yeti uses his powers
Do a Shot: whooping snake!