LISTENING and READING practice - SMALLFOOT


(CNN) Animated movies regularly deal with significant real-world issues, but "Smallfoot" carries a big message that feels particularly timely: the question of being afraid of and hostile toward those who are different from us. That theme, and a pleasingly broad visual style, power past some sizable shortcomings in this Warner Bros. release, including mostly forgettable songs and a somewhat sluggish start.

The title is certainly clever, focusing on a Yeti community living high in the mountains. These big-footed creatures have been raised with an elaborate belief system teaching them, among other things, that there's nothing beneath the clouds but a gaping abyss, despite a small band of heretics who suspect they're not receiving the entire picture.


Migo (voiced by Channing Tatum) isn't a member of that group, so he's shocked when a plane crashes in the mountains, providing a glimpse of a person (the "smallfoot" of their legends) for the first time. His insistence that he saw what he saw gets him banished from the village, putting Migo in contact with the skeptics (voiced by, among others, Zendaya and basketball star LeBron James).

Bravely dropping through the clouds to redeem himself, Migo discovers the world below and encounters the host of a struggling TV nature show, Percy (James Corden). The film begins to find its footing as the two seek to overcome the vast gap between them, which includes Percy's speech sounding like a pipsqueak-y mouse to Migo, and Migo's attempt to speak in friendly tones coming across as a threatening roar.


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