The idea that kids in China speak perfect English, have an interest in selfies and think nothing of traveling cross-country without their parents might strike younger viewers of “Abominable” as odd.
Yet this cultural collaboration has moments that could teach kids plenty about the similarities between nations.
Directed by Jill Culton and Todd Wilderman, the stunningly beautiful animated film follows a young girl named Yi (Chloe Bennet) who vows to get a yeti from Shanghai to Mount Everest, despite the machinations of an evil conglomerate and its acquisitive owner (Eddie Izzard). Izzard’s team wants the abominable snowman for its collection and, knowing it exists, will do anything to lock it up.
Yi finds the creature – which she names Everest – on her apartment’s roof. She pulls two friends into the plan and, together, they go on a journey across China that, frequently, is breathtaking.
Culton and Wilderman have done much with visuals, making fields pop to life, rivers flow with energy.
Like a National Geographic travelogue, “Abominable” provides a good overview of the country. A scene with the Leshan Buddha is jaw-droppingly beautiful, particularly when flowers begin to blossom once Yi plays her violin.
There’s an intense (perhaps too intense for young children) story about Yi’s late father and their unique bond. It fuels her desire to get Everest back to his family and helps them stand up to the collectors and their team.
Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) and Peng (Albert Tsai) join the journey and help just when the bad guys try to move in to grab Everest. Jin is the selfie addict; Peng thinks he’s a world-class basketball player.
Yi’s mother and grandmother provide dimension, too, but they never seem too worried when the kids are gone for long stretches of time.
Instead, “Abominable” focuses on its bonding between the girl and the yeti. He has magical powers; she has determination and pluck. At times you’ll look at her and wonder if she wasn’t based on Dora the Explorer. There’s a resemblance and a desire to go where kids probably shouldn’t.
Throw in violin music, some interesting “whooping” snakes and a henchwoman (voiced by Sarah Paulson) and the film is more adult than most kids might like.
While Everest is big and fluffy (just right for stuffed animal sales), he doesn't register the way other abominable snowmen have in two earlier films.
Like "The Farewell," it's a good look at China and its customs. But it's also the kind of film that doesn't always play to restless children.