Thursday, September 26, 2019


When it chooses to lead with its heart, DreamWorks can create a moving movie experience. More than a bit reminiscent of How to Train Your Dragon, the latest animated feature from the studio centers around a Chinese teenager named Yi (Chloe Bennet) who encounters an Abominable Snowman (Joseph Izzo) on the rooftop of her apartment building and decides to help her new friend find his way back home to the Himalayas. Along for the ride are brothers Peng (Albert Tsai) and Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) who find themselves reluctant traveling companions on a quest to stay three steps ahead of a wealthy billionaire (Eddie Izzard) and his private security army hoping to recapture the creature and return it to the lab it broke out at the beginning of the film.

"Everest," as Yi names him, offers the same mix of cute and dangerous that Toothless provided in How to Train Your Dragon. Yi's backstory, including her distance from her mother and grandmother and a recent family loss, help ground the emotional story while Everest provides the magic. As with Toothless, Everest is revealed to be more than he seems leading to an emotional whammy as Everest's journey offers Yi an unexpected gift.

While not perfect, I could have done with less of the billionaire, his minions, and the scientist (Sarah Paulson) out to recover the creature, the emotional core of Abominable works well, as does its choice of a female lead. While it may not offer many surprises, the familiar story is comfortable, fun, occasionally moving, and well-told. For me, more successful than the first How to Train Your Dragon, with emotional beats similar to its sequel (and best of the franchise), Abominable works on multiple levels including a family-friend romp of a road movie featuring unlikely traveling companions and a heart-warming tale of a young girl working through feelings of loss by helping her new friend find his way home. I'll admit to even tearing up a bit when Yi realizes where their journey has led them.

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