“We’ve promised the public a yeti and nothing else will do!” says aging Burnish (voice of Eddie Izzard), wealthy, exotic-animal collector. “I have to get it back!” His escaped yeti, small, cute and cuddly, is discovered by young heroine Yi (voice of Chloe Bennet) on the rooftop of her Shanghai apartment house. “I don’t know where you came from,” she says, “but you sure don’t belong here.” When yeti looks longingly at brightly-lit Mt. Everest billboard, Yi asks, “Is that your home?” That’s the setup for this animated adventure/comedy.
Can Yi and two young friends travel 1,000 miles across China, returning yeti — whom they name “Everest” — to his snowy mountain home? Or will Burnish and Dr. Zara (voice of Sarah Paulson) recapture Everest for public display? For answers, see “Abominable,” a charming, if predictable, quest movie.
Chloe Bennet is the voice of plucky, violin-playing Yi, determined to reunite Everest with his Himalayan parents. (Yi’s father is recently deceased.) Joining her in this cross-China adventure are friends Peng and Jin, voiced by Albert Tsai and Tenzing Norgay Trainor. Peng wants to be a basketball superstar. His older cousin, Jin, fascinated by his own good looks, wants to be a ladies’ man. Eddie Izzard and Sarah Paulson are the voices of bad guys, avaricious collector Burnish and his zoologist henchwoman, Dr. Zara Burnish wants to display everything he collects in his upscale penthouse.
Others in the voice cast include Michelle Wong and Tsai Chin as Yi’s loving mother and grandmother. “Who else loves my buns?” asks funny grandmother, Nai-Nai. Joseph Izzo is the gentle, humming voice of little yeti, Everest.
“Abominable,” co-directed by Jill Culton and Todd Wilderman, with script by Culton, is a family-friendly, attractive animated feature. Its plot may remind moviegoers of “E.T.” – bad-guy adults chase Everest, while kids try to keep him safe. There are visual and aural pleasures for adults and bathroom humor and chase sequences for younger viewers. (“You’re definitely a boy,” says Yi to Everest, after the film’s first bodily-function joke.) Listen for Yi’s beautiful violin interludes and watch for concluding sequences at the Leshan Giant Buddha in Sichuan. They’re as lovely as anything I’ve heard or seen recently at the movies.
Rated PG for action and mild rude humor, “Abominable” runs 97 minutes. After the movie, talk about how the quest helps its characters become self-aware, especially Yi, Jin and Burnish. The film is a cross-cultural venture by DreamWorks Animation and China’s Pearl Studio.
Three cute kids and “Everest” —
“Abominable” — it’s a quest;
Crossing China — it’s a test;
Plot is easily second-guessed.