I was hoping Abominable wouldn’t live up to its name. Maybe it’s because two other movies featuring mythical creatures (Smallfoot with a yeti and Missing Link starring a congenial Big Foot) were released in the last year, but I had low expectations for this movie.
Yet(i) Abominable won me over. The story centers on Yi (the voice of Chloe Bennet), a lonely Shanghai teen grieving the death of her father. Her one solace is her violin, which she plays in secret on the roof of her apartment building. And that’s where she meets a yeti.
Shanghai is an unlikely place for a yeti, but he finds himself on the loose there when he manages to escape his greedy captors – an eccentric billionaire (the voice of Eddie Izzard) and a dubious zoologist (the voice of Sarah Paulson) — who are determined to turn him into a sideshow. The yeti is adorable and lovable, so Yi makes a snap decision to help him get away from the bad guys and ultimately, home to Mount Everest.
Girl Power and Diversity
There are a few things I really enjoyed about this movie, in addition to the cuteness of Everest, the name Yi gives the yeti. First is the girl power element, both within the story and behind the camera. Jill Culton is the writer-director of Abominable. A highlight of her career was a stint as a Pixar animator, where she designed the character of Jessie for Toy Story. That Pixar influence is evident in the heart and flair of the storytelling and in the well-developed protagonist Yi, who struggles to find her place in the world without her dad.
It is also refreshing to gain some insight into the life of teens in contemporary China. Asians in Hollywood don’t usually get much screen time, and recent family films are a little more diverse thanks to this release.
To Culton’s credit, the movie is an original concept not based on other source material. While it doesn’t rise to the level of a Pixar film, it is sweet and family friendly.
For younger viewers, the movie might be intense, especially during a tense confrontation at the climax when the bad guys recapture the yeti. But kids age seven and up, and grownups who are kids at heart, will really enjoy it.