What happens when you take every myth of an oversized creature and turn him into an adorable Yeti named Everest? You get an emotional snow capped version of E.T. called Abominable.
Having fled the secret laboratory where he’s been detained, a young Yeti (Joseph Izzo) frantically scurries through the streets of Shanghai before hiding onto an apartment rooftop where he meets Yi (Chloe Bennet). Yi, a young girl struggling through adolescence after the loss of her Dad, discovers a shared fondness with Everest over Yi’s grandma’s dumplings and a love of music. Music is Y’s comfort blanket just as music assists Everest when he feels threatened or simply wants to make Yi feel better.
It is during their self discoveries, Yi rapidly surmises her new companion is being hunted by a squad of ruthless scientists, led by wealthy collector Burnish (Eddie Izzard) and the zoologist Dr. Zara (Sarah Paulson). Recruiting two cousins Peng (Albert Tsai) and Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) as accomplices, Yi is determined to help the Yeti get away and become reunited with his family through the Himalayan mountains and on Mount Everest.
An outspoken advocate for Asian actors and film roles in Hollywood, Bennet voices Yi with an impressive mix of enthusiasm, confidence and vulnerability that more than adequately represent traditional Chinese family values. Sarah Paulson is particularly impressive as the evil Dr. Zara, who reveals many faces throughout the emotional journey and Eddie Izzard is an animated mix of Mr. Scrooge and infamous Mr. Potter from It’s A Wonderful Life (both actors are equally deliciously diabolical).
For me, the highlight was actually hearing Asian actors voice animated characters with such veterans like Tsai Chin (Nai Nai) and Michelle Wong (Yi’s Mom). There is something about cultural authenticity that can not be replaced or duplicated. It literally makes for some hysterically poignant scenes where the humor fine-tuned details might have otherwise been overlooked.
Written by Jill Culton and co-directed by Culton and Todd Wilderman, Abominable brims with humour and surprising twists, leading us on a journey of friendship, healing, and love. It’s an adorably, emotional film that will provide children with lessons in giving and what it means to embrace someone for who they are…not who you would like for them to be.
Produced by Dreamworks Animation and Universal Pictures, Abominable hit theaters on September 27th.