Updated: Jul 12, 2021
Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor), Peng (Albert Tsai) and Yi (Chloe Bennet) try to help Everest the yeti return home in Abominable (Distributed by Universal Pictures)
Abominable is a sweet, colorful, family friendly, animated adventure with cute characters. I enjoyed it well enough as I was watching it, however I began to forget it as soon as the screen went black. It is pleasant, but the story is derivative of a ton of other family movies. The animation is fine, yet it does nothing to make it stand out among its competitors. It probably does enough to engage kids with its likable lead characters and action that is exciting without being particularly suspenseful. Still, it is hard for me to see them coming back to it for repeat viewings. It is an inoffensive time-waster containing several light chuckles and just the slightest amount of ambition.
Yi is a teenage girl who has isolated herself from her family after the death of her father. Then, she stumbles upon a yeti on the roof of her apartment complex. Yi decides to help return him to his home on Mount Everest, evading the scientists chasing him on their way.
All of this is fairly by the numbers. What carries it along is that the yeti (which Yi names Everest) is adorable and Yi and her friends, Jin and Peng, are agreeable travel companions. Everest is a playful child in a monster’s body, leading to some charmingly goofy sight gags. His human friends are exactly what you would expect for the genre (the plucky loner, the selfish guy, his fun-loving young cousin). They serve their purpose without ever relegating Everest to the background. The villains are dull, but the movie benefits greatly from keeping them mostly light. They are bad, but only veer toward evil for the climax. This is not a laugh out loud comedy, though it is amusing, with a handful of clever jokes.
There is not much of an arc, none of them really grow or learn anything significant about themselves. I guess there is kind of a message about respecting animals, but it is pretty thin. While the story takes place in China (it is a coproduction between DreamWorks Animation and China’s Pearl Studio), for the most part, it could take place basically anywhere. Though they travel across the country, there are only a couple of location specific sequences. It was clearly intended to appeal to a worldwide audience (hence the simplistic, easily translatable, plot). It plays it far too safe to wow anyone, yet its approach makes it difficult to dislike.
The sole interesting character detail is that Everest is magical. In moments of need, he begin to hum, his fur starts glowing, and incredible things happen. There are a few instances where his powers result in something beautiful (most notably one at the Leshan Giant Buddha statue; certainly the best scene in the movie). Even if Abominable does not always take advantage of it, it is a useful little touch that allows it to occasionally come alive.
Abominable (87 minutes, not including the end credits) is okay. For parents looking for a decent diversion for their kids, it will do. There is nothing actively wrong with it, except that it does not try to be its own thing. You have probably seen something just like it before. Heck, your kids will most likely be able to predict the story’s developments as it goes. If you are seeking an excuse for a family night out and something to watch as you eat popcorn, this is a perfectly acceptable choice.
3 out of 5
Chloe Bennet as Yi
Tenzing Norgay Trainor as Jin
Albert Tsai as Peng
Eddie Izzard as Burnish
Sarah Paulson as Dr. Zara
Directed by Jill Culton and Todd Wilderman
Written by Jill Culton