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Nelly & Simon: Mission Yeti – Movie Review

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Nelly & Simon: Mission Yeti – Movie Review

Rating: C- (Below Average)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy eOne Films

With how animation has evolved and become more sophisticated and the rise of many computer animation studios, there is a certain expectation when it comes to theatrically released films. Even a film coming from a smaller studio needs to look high quality. Nelly & Simon: Mission Yeti has a few flourishes of inspiration, but it’s the sort of product best relegated to home video. At no point does the material truly click or inspire, although there is a possibility that the English dub of this Quebecois animated film loses something in translation. Mission Yeti is unquestionably aimed at the younger tykes, although even they deserve higher quality films.

Despite Nelly and Simon receiving titular billing, Nelly is the far more interesting of the two. An aspiring detective, there’s a charming quirkiness about her and the animators enthuse her with the proper amount of energy. Rachelle Leferve also gives easily the best vocal performance in Mission Yeti, befitting this character. Simon is the standard timid hero with dreams of exploration and finding the titular yeti. Annoyingly, they are accompanied by a bird sidekick who squawks irritating phrases at the most inappropriate moments. The humour never lands and the characters have a habit of never shutting up, but this bird gets the worst bits. It’s a wonder nobody roasts and eats her when times get perilous.

An antagonist makes a sporadic appearance, although he’s a fairly dull and unthreatening villain. Even when things get really bad for the protagonists, it never feels like they’re truly in danger. The story just moves along at a glacial pace and the adventure doesn’t get truly exciting. The closest is a well directed car chase in the opening scene. The Yetis themselves are a mix between the Ewoks and Wookiees of Star Wars, but never become endearing in the way the filmmakers intended. Mission Yeti tries to create a connection between the heroes and the beasts, but it never materializes into anything meaningful.

The character animation is hardly stellar, but directors Pierre Greco and Nancy Florence Savard provide some welcome touches. The backgrounds are beautifully designed, made to look like pencil sketches. One’s eyes tend to wander from the characters to the backgrounds to admire the use of comic book-like shading. There are a few clever details sprinkled throughout, including using hand-drawn animation for water splashes. The clothes and cars also have a unique colour palette to them and the lighting in the early scenes have an appropriate noir feeling to them. As underwhelming as the story is, a lot of thought was clearly put into the film’s design.

Some small animated productions get unfairly looked down upon, even when the filmmakers are trying to create a movie they hope will win over an audience. Mission Yeti is a fairly simple film aimed at the younger audience segment and they’re certainly trying. Unfortunately, it’s a potentially inventive story that gets bogged down by clichés and slow pacing. Even at a short 80-ish minute runtime, there is little that is captivating about the journey, except for the designs and Nelly’s energetic personality. Warner Brothers Animation have their abominable snowman-related animated film Smallfoot opening later this year. They don’t have to worry about competition.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE


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