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Soundtrack review: Smallfoot (Heitor Pareira – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Smallfoot (Heitor Pareira – 2018)

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“Smallfoot” is a 2018 American 3D computer-animated musical comedy adventure film produced by the Warner Animation Group. Loosely based on the book Yeti Tracks by Sergio Pablos, the film was co-written and directed by Karey Kirkpatrick, and stars the voices of Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya, Common, LeBron James, Gina Rodriguez, Danny DeVito, Yara Shahidi, Ely Henry, and Jimmy Tatro. The plot follows a group of Yeti who come across a human, with each species thinking the other was just a myth. Heitor Pereira wrote the score, and usually his animation compositions deliver the goods.

The start is encouraging with the first instrumental cue “This is my world” bringing the fun. If you’ve read my reviews over the years you know I sometimes have a hard time connecting with animation scores when they are not sweeping orchestral and I am finding myself in that situation during the next few cues from “Smallfoot”; Heitor Pereira goes for the silly mood with fragmented motifs, sudden changes in pace, musical moments that surely work very well in the context of the movie as I can imagine the on screen shenanigans but are harder to enjoy on their own. It’s cues like “Jumping spider” that don’t really work for me with the slightly tribal sound that continues in “The S.E.S.” which I really can’t feel. I understand the composer’s choices and that we went for the quirky sound and sometimes for strange instrument combinations but in this score I prefer the straightforward orchestral motifs which are rare.

There are times when I feel this score is too busy, too all over the place with too many sounds crammed together in particular cues. It’s a familiar agitation for people who have kids so, once again, it’s just right for this movie but it’s a bit too much for the standalone listening experience. It’s also that tip toeing way of writing animation music, with the brass going one movement and one stop which works in small doses but when something like this is combined with electronics and tribal sounds and other things it just makes me want to skip the cue.

I am quite curious to experience this score in context though and I will take my little girl to see “Smallfoot” to maybe make a bit more sense of the music. Like I said, on its own it was all over the place and it was more frustrating than enjoyable.

Cue rating: 65 / 100

Highlights:
Plane crash

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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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