'The Son of Bigfoot' ('Bigfoot Junior'): Film Review

Courtesy of StudioCanal
A facile and friendly Sasquatch story.

This latest animated feature from Belgium-based nWave Pictures ('A Turtle's Tale', 'The House of Magic') was released in France by StudioCanal.

Belgian 3D animation house nWave Pictures ('A Turtle's Tale") is back with another stab at easygoing, commercial-minded kids fare with its latest feature, The Son of Bigfoot.

Released under the title Bigfoot Junior in France, where it raked in nearly 250,000 admissions in two weeks, this mildly entertaining and very family friendly outing will play best with tykes who aren’t quite ready for the more sophisticated meta-fictions of Pixar or DreamWorks. Slated for release throughout Europe, the $30M production should eventually find a home in the U.S. — which is, after all, where Bigfoot is meant to live.

Co-directed by Ben Stassen and Jeremy Degruson, the film is very much in line with nWave’s previous outing, The Wild Life, which tried to offer a fresh take on the Robinson Crusoe tale. Here, screenwriters Bob Barlen and Cal Brunker turn the story of Sasquatch into an action-packed saga of filiation, burgeoning adolescence and corporate greed. Yet rather than focusing on the monster himself, they set their sights on his son: a 13-year-old string bean named Adam, who discovers one day that he has giant feet, among other strange attributes, while learning that his long lost father is actually a hairy — but entirely harmless — creature living in a forest nearby their house in Portland, Oregon.

When Adam runs away to reconnect with his dad in the woods, we learn that Bigfoot has been tracked for years by a ruthless mogul named Wallace Eastman, who dresses like Don Johnson and runs the nefarious HairCo: an evil multinational that looks like a cross between LexCorp and Hairclub for Men. And while it's unclear whether Eastman is both the company's president and also a client, his goal is to steal Bigfoot’s follicle-producing DNA so that he can dominate the world with a brand new line of hair-growth products. Talk about a twist.

In order to beat the baddies, Bigfoot and son join forces with a gang of talking furry animals that we’ve seen in a few too many animated features already, although this movie does include one of the more affable grizzly bears in recent memory. The rest of the characters are fairly generic, with Adam experiencing the usual superhuman growing pains, harnessing his powers at one point to fight off a bunch of school bullies just like Spiderman did in his different movies. (Adam also has a Sasquatch-sense that’s pretty much the same as Spidey’s.)

Animation work is never exactly jaw-dropping but fits the bill, with plenty of colorful set pieces in both the great outdoors and the high-tech headquarters of HairCo. Snarky dialogue is minimal compared to most tongue-in-cheek cartoons, while a few pop culture nods (to Star Wars and Better Call Saul) will give older viewers something to look out for. Nonstop soundtrack by Belgian rock group Puggy can be a bit of an ear-sore, though it should play fine with the film’s target audience.

Production company: nWave Pictures
Directors: Jeremie Degruson, Ben Stassen
Screenwriters: Bob Barlen, Cal Brunker
Producers: Ben Stassen, Caroline Van Iseghem
Executive producers: Didier Lupfer, Eric Dillens, Cooper Waterman
Composer: Buggy
Art direction: Sylvie Lacroix, Jeremie Degruson
Character design: Philippe Talliez
Animation supervisor: Dirk De Loose
Sales: StudioCanal

91 minutes