With impeccable timing, Dreamworks has released its Sinophilic family animation “Abominable” at a time when there’s surely no risk of controversy, right? The movie offers a familiar fable of plucky teenage independence, friendship and environmental issues with an edge as soft and fluffy as its title character. Its lightweight nature wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t so nakedly obvious how carefully the producers are being to kowtow to the rulers of the biggest entertainment market on Earth.
Escaping from a laboratory, a young yeti finds a hiding place on the roof of an apartment block, where Yi (Chloe Bennet) discovers it and determines to get it back home. Pursued by a wealthy rare animal collector and a zoologist with a hidden agenda, Yi and her friends Peng and Jin travel across China towards the Himalayas where the yetis roam free.
Geopolitical subtext aside, “Abominable” is a perfectly serviceable, sweet animated movie that’ll keep the kids occupied and won’t bore the adults who’ll be dragged along to see it. The character design is as good as you’d expect from Dreamworks and the magical set pieces as the Yeti reveals his magical powers are undeniably beautiful but the character arcs of the individuals involved never really seem to click and by the end of the story, narrative convenience ends up trumping good storytelling. Still, the yeti is super-cute and will probably shift the requisite amount of merchandise to bring a sequel to theatres near you this time next year.