You probably don’t expect Smallfoot to have a powerful and prescient message at its core.
When it comes to animated films Pixar is usually the studio that delivers rich and moving movies that touch adults as much as children.
But, at its core, “Smallfoot” is about togetherness, the use of fear, whether there’s ever a good reason to lie, and the coming together of Yetis and humans.
All of which are themes and topics that are particularly timely, both politically and in various other areas of society.
During my recent discussions with “Smallfoot’s” leading actors Channing Tatum and Common and its writers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa I decided to quiz the foursome on its message, asking what they took away from the film.
“I think it was always supposed to be about question what you know,” explained Tatum. “I don’t think it changed with our political climate changing every day. I think that was always director Carey [Kirkpatrick]’s intention.”
“That this village was so insulated. They were a tribe, and it reflected tribalism in a way. They didn’t know what was possible outside of these rules and regulations.”
“At one point they were probably helping these people to survive. But the Stonekeeper has a really hard job. I love all the lines that I think are a bit varied in the double-entendre of it all. Like, ‘Look at the heavy burden of the stones he has to carry.’”
“The overall rule and law that I have with filmmaking and storytelling is that you never want to hit people over the head,” added Common.
“They shouldn’t feel preached to, or have the message constantly flashing in front of them and that is all there is.”
“One of the greatest things about the greatest films ever made is that the story made you feel something. It was the humanity in the story and the heart of the story that made us get the message.”
“It didn’t need to be put in front of us and preached to. I think as Channing was saying, Karey had his intention with the beginning and now it has so many layers to it because we are really dealing with it in the world.”
“But it has always been that way. Because you have to challenge the system. To get biblical, Jesus challenged the system.”
John Requa, who helped to co-write “Smallfoot,” admitted that the film’s messages were already “baked into it from the very beginning,” before they were hired.
“Because this movie was always about two worlds divided. It was always about these two worlds coming together and having misconceptions. That was always there.”
“We are just lucky. We have been working on this movie for 6 years and it just comes at a time when we really need to talk about divided cultures, and kids need help in processing it.”
“Parents need a moment of teaching with their kids and dealing with the scary world we live in. I would love to say it was a calculated thing, but it really wasn’t.”
“A movie always has to be about something,” added Ficarra, who also scribed the film with his writing partner.
“A movie like this, you are not going to do it about some dangerous theme. Unless you are doing an R-rated animated movie, which is rare.”
“The big two breakthroughs on the film is that it was ultimately about somebody trying to tell the truth and is there such a thing as a good lie. Both of which are incredibly prescient.”
“Smallfoot” is now in cinemas.