"Abominable" Movie Review
Following in the footsteps of E.T., Big Hero 6, and any number of other movies where kids discover an otherworldly creature/thing and then try to protect it from the pesky adults (who are usually wearing lab coats), Abominable certainly doesn’t break any new ground, but that’s not to say it’s not delightful and fun all on its own. The joint production by Dreamworks Animation and China’s Pearl Studio is a treat for the senses (mostly visual), as a precocious teen girl and her behemoth, pillow-soft new pal embark on a generally G-rated trip across Asia.
The girl is Yi (Chloe Bennet), who lives with her mother (Michelle Wong) and grandmother (Tsai Chin) in Shanghai, doing odd jobs to save up some money; she wants to take the cross-China trip she and her dad had long talked about before his untimely (offscreen) death. After a magical yeti escapes from a nearby lab and ends up on Yi’s roof, she figures out that he just wants to get back to his home on Mount Everest, and that she’s just the girl for the job.
Joined by a couple of accidental tagalongs—pre-teen hoops fan Peng (Albert Tsai) and social media obsessive Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor)—Yi and the yeti (which she names Everest) set off, all the while doggedly pursued by the rich, eccentric lab owner Mr. Burnish (Eddie Izzard) and his lead scientist Dr. Zara (Sarah Paulson), who want to get the creature back in their possession.
The gang’s fantastic journey takes them across the entirety of South China and eventually to the Himalayas, accented by some whimsical magic on Everest’s part. At one point he blows up a dandelion to twenty times its normal size to float above the mountains and later turns a field into a tsunami of flowers to escape the bad guys. And did I mention the giant exploding blueberries?
Director and screenwriter Jill Culton (Open Season) has crafted a lighthearted and fun feature that could have easily just wound up as a Chinese travelogue but instead provides enough in the plot and character departments to keep the audience invested. Yi and her friends gracefully evolve from their early-on stereotypes, and Everest develops his own personality, too—while maintaining his status as the cuddliest thing this side of Agnes’ stuffed unicorn in Despicable Me.
You may find yourself wondering why a family of turtles shows up in the middle of the desert, or how Yi and her friends could possibly survive a grueling cross-continent trip (which seems to take only a couple of days), but those are concerns only for our adult brains. For the kid in all of us (not to mention the kids in the audience), Abominable is a trip and a half… and worth the journey.