Abominable is a heartwarming story about family and identity disguised as the tale of an estranged Yeti on a journey to Mount Everest. Dreamworks’ latest animation is entertaining, compelling and incredibly sweet.
Dreamworks’s latest adventure might not be the most unpredictable film you’ll ever see, but what it lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in charm. Abominable is one of those much-needed stories that will have you smile from ear to ear from beginning to end, no matter how old you are. Both wildly entertaining and surprisingly moving, this 2,000-mile journey from China to the Himalayas will move you, make you laugh and make you fall in love with its adorable protagonist – Everest the Yeti himself.
Abominable centres around Yi (Chloe Bennet), a strong-willed, resourceful teenager who lives with her mum (Michelle Wong) and “Nai Nai” / grandma (Tsai Chin) and dreams of escaping her everyday life to embark on a journey through China – the very same trip she had been planning for years with her now deceased father. But Yi is far from being one of those stereotypical female characters we often see in animation: as independent as she is resourceful, this teenager is not waiting for any stranger to appear and make her dreams come true. To her family’s unawareness, not only does Yi regularly work as a dog sitter to earn money for her trip, but she has built herself an improvised “refuge” on her apartment building’s rooftop, where she spends any free time she has playing her violin and reminiscing about her dad.
And it’s precisley on that rooftop that Yi’s life is turned inside out. When our favourite teenager discovers that a Yeti has taken shelter by her hiding place, she makes it her mission to take the helpless animal back to his home – Mount Everest. When witnessing Yi’s meeting with Everest the Yeti, it’s hard not to think of another beloved fictional animal from one of the most successful and well-known Dreamworks Animation stories. Just like How To Train Your Dragon‘s Toothless, Everest is injured. Just like his predecessor, he establishes a strong bond with an extraordinary human being who makes it her mission to rescue him from a terrible fate. And, just like the beloved dragon, he is captivating, charming, sweet and everything in between.
In fact, Everest is one of the most adorable fictional animals you’ll ever see. And it doesn’t matter whether he’s flashing a beaming smile at you while hanging off a train or making giant blueberries fall from the sky in slow motion (yes, that happens): this Yeti has the ability of making you burst out in laughter, giggle like a child and even, at times, cry your heart out. And it’s not just the poetic cinematography or the magical, goosebump-worthy atmosphere evoked by music and sound, just like it’s not just the extraordinarily detailed, realistic drawings that make it so incredibly watchable. Though it cannot be denied that all these elements help a great deal in making Abominable a compelling adventure (and it needs to be said that every single character really does have the best animated hair you’ll ever see), there is yet another reason why this film appeals to our emotions so strongly, and that lies in its narrative.
This heartwarming, magical story is a love song to China that feels like coming back home after a long journey. It is a tale that deals with life’s big questions in a way that flows incredibly well, with bittersweet moments that are guaranteed to make you highly emotional. You’ll go along with its most improbable scenes because you can’t get enough of the Yeti-koi fish interactions, and its most childish jokes shouldn’t make you laugh, and yet, somehow, they do. Its immensely relatable characters keep you entertained for the entire duration of the film, and its most insightful moments have something to say to children and grown-ups alike.
Abominable deals with universal themes. It’s about home, family and connection. It’s about finding hope when all seems lost, overcoming a loss and leaning on others to stand up again. It’s about finding out who you are when things get out of control, not being afraid to admit that you don’t know what to do and gathering the courage to ask for help. So what if some of the twists are a little predictable? Abominable‘s beauty lies in the way the story is told.
Abominable was this year’s Family Gala at the London Film Festival, where it was screened on 5th October 2019. It is now showing in the UK and select European countries, and it will be available to stream on Amazon Prime in the US on 5th December.