ABOMINABLE is a sweet, if unremarkable, movie. With a plot that offers little in the way of novelty and characters who are as familiar to fans of contemporary animated films aimed at kiddies as Harlequin was to fans of the commedia dell’arte, it does boast some fine animation and a mythical creature that is undeniably adorable. For the kids in the single-digit range, it will entertain. For the adults with them, at least it won’t rankle.
The mythical creature is a yeti, dubbed Everest by Yi (Chloe Bennet) the plucky high-school girl who finds him on her rooftop. He has escaped the clutches of Mr. Burnish (Eddie Izzard) a wildly wealthy explorer who has spent a lifetime trying to live down the rueful laughter he endured when he first claimed to have found a yeti, but couldn’t prove it. As for Yi, the rooftop where Everest has taken refuge is also her refuge, where she plans the trip across China that her late father dreamed of taking, and plays the violin he left her when he died.
As is the custom in stories like this one, Peng (Albert Tsai) the nerdy kid next door, and Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor), the vainglorious and shallow heart neighborhood-throb, end up accompanying Yi as she takes Everest back to the Himalayas with Burnish and company on their trail. Along the way, Jin will bemoan the damage to his carefully chosen ensemble, Yi will discover that there’s no place like home, and the diminutive, basketball-obsessed Peng will provide the comic relief. For variety, Everest will evince a magical power of hum nature into helping them on their journey, and a dandelion will provide an unexpected form of transport.
It’s all rendered beautifully, particularly the aqua aurora borealis that represents Everest’s magical powers, and the lighting effects of a giant wisteria tree lit by some magical orbs the yeti conjures up. The humor is gentle, but never rises to the level of a guffaw, even when overgrown blueberries are involved. The word perfunctory floats to mind.
The best thing in it is Izzard as Mr. Burnish, a man whose deep appreciation for nature has taken a turn distinctly away from the benign. Izzard’s delivery, the angry condescension and blithe obliviousness with which he infuses his voice, is even more lively and perilous than the towering avalanches. The second best thing is a whooping snake, of which too little is made throughout, but should, and I’m serious about this, have its own spin-off. The yeti itself may be an adorable ball of white fur and evocative blue eyes, but aside from that adorableness, he has little to distinguish himself from any other animated fur ball. Even the albino jerboa that occupies the shoulder real estate of the film’s wild-haired zoologist (Sarah Paulson) has a more piquant personality despite a supporting role.
ABOMINABLE is as bland as its eponymous character. Worse, it’s one long déjà vu experience of pre-fab whimsy and schmaltz whose greatest virtue is its very forgetablity.