It can be rough out there when you’re a mouse in the company of men, and unfortunately for the Belgian producers of The Son of Bigfoot, this attempt at outdoing the big American boys at their own game returned only a rather limited success. The film came and went on these shores without rustling up a great deal of interest, and it isn’t hard to see why; the trailer promises nothing more than you might expect from an animated kids’ movie, and there’s nothing to suggest you should anticipate anything better than adequate.
And that’s fair. This is exactly the thing to keep the kids quiet for ninety minutes, without inspiring them to ask for second helpings. You’ll be back to the usual suspects before you know it. The Son of Bigfoot is, however, very far from disastrous; it’s actually a rather sweet film with an odd, European sensibility that at least gives it an identity distinct from the films it oh so wants to be.
Adam (Faulkner) is a regular sort of adolescent whose hair grows too fast and whose shoes can’t contain his feet, and who gets bullied by the bigger boys who know he doesn’t have it in him to retaliate. Until that is, his feet really do outgrow his shoes and his unwanted buzz cut is back to being an unruly mop overnight, and when he finds a box full of mementoes – including recently written letters – from what he’d always been told was his late father, he runs away from home in search of his absent parent.
It’s done with enough attention to character to engage well enough, with likeable leads and plausible relationships between the boy and his mother and father. The action is efficiently handled and the subplot concerning the reason for the father’s disappearance results in a second half that makes some solid points about corporate irresponsibility, delivered with humour and dexterity. But it’s mostly ground that’s been gone over so often, you’ll be begging to see something new being done with it.
Instead, you get Disney-esque talking animals, a villain straight out of the Postman Pat movie, and resolutions it’s impossible not to see coming the moment the title sequence fades out. In the circumstances, these aren’t necessarily the biggest of issues, and some of the character animation is – if sometimes a little dubious in terms of its movement and interaction with the backgrounds – pleasingly whimsical. The three bullies, for example, are idiosyncratic enough to be far more convincing than they ought to have been.
Which isn’t enough to make this a compelling watch, although there is plenty to ensure it’s a painless experience for parents curious enough to give it a go.
THE SON OF BIGFOOT / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: JEREMY DEGRUSON, BEN STASSEN / SCREENPLAY: BOB BARLEN, CAL BRUNKER / STARRING: PAPPY FAULKNER, CHRISTOPHER L. PARSON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW