Foot in mouth: Underwhelming animation The Son of Bigfoot
A BULLIED teenager's tragic past is exposed as a lie in Jeremy Degruson and Ben Stassen's computer-animated romp, which hangs a traditional rites-of-passage story on the existence of an untamed creature from American folklore.
Realised by nWave Pictures, whose previous colour-saturated fables include Robinson Crusoe and The House Of Magic, The Son Of Bigfoot coasts along on a gentle wave of empowerment, family unity and defiant individuality in the face of conformism.
Each moral-heavy interlude is accompanied by a pop rock soundtrack courtesy of Belgian band Puggy, which is either infectious or irritating depending on your musical proclivities.
The quality of the animation is solid and a couple of chase sequences neatly alternate between first and third-person perspectives to give a sense of inertia.
A linear script co-written by Bob Barlen and Cal Brunker is skewed towards younger audiences, with fleeting and random pop culture references like a roadside poster that references the Breaking Bad TV spin-off, Better Call Saul.
Character development is two-dimensional and the film's bouffant arch-villain isn't remotely threatening, which dilutes dramatic tension in the explosive closing frames.
Thirteen-year-old misfit Adam Harrison (voiced by Pappy Faulkner) lives with his single mother Shelly (Marieve Herington) in Portland, Oregon.
The boy's scientist father (Christopher L Parson) died when he was young and Shelly has struggled to shepherd Adam through adolescence.
By chance, the awkward teenager stumbles upon a metal box hidden beneath the floorboards of his home.
Inside, he finds recent letters from his father, sent from an address off Route 99.
Consumed by rage at his mother's betrayal, Adam hitchhikes to the remote address and discovers that his missing parent is a real-life Bigfoot.
Moreover, the teenager will undergo a similar metamorphosis which includes rapid growth of body hair, oversized feet and the ability to converse with animals.
Father and son bond in the company of Bigfoot's creature posse: Trapper the racoon (Joe Ochman) and his wife Weecha (Laila Berzins), Tina the squirrel (Sandy Fox), Steve the woodpecker (Joe Thomas) and Wilbur the grizzly bear (Michael Sorich).
"He's a teddy bear, sweeter than a poet of honey", Bigfoot assures his son.
These four-legged and feathered allies unite when Wallace Eastman, CEO of profit-hungry corporation HairCo, attempts to capture Bigfoot in order to clone his DNA and engineer a cure for baldness.
The Son Of Bigfoot is as glossy as Eastman's voluminous mane but lacks emotional depth and urgency.
Vocal performances fail to command attention and when the film opens the floodgates on mawkish sentimentality, it arrives as a tidal wave.
Cute animal sidekicks are poorly served and a potential love interest for Adam doesn't merit a Christian name let alone a personality.
This boy's life is a pedestrian and plodding affair.
Rating: two stars
The Son of Bigfoot (PG, 92 mins) Animation/Drama/Comedy/Action.
Featuring the voices of: Pappy Faulkner, Christopher L Parson, Marieve Herington, Joe Ochman, Laila Berzins, Michael Sorich, Sandy Fox, Joe Thomas.
Directors: Jeremy Degruson, Ben Stassen.
Released: November 3