Thursday 30 November 2017

Son of Bigfoot (Ben Stassen / Jeremy Degruson, 2017)

Ben Stassen's 2013 animated movie The House of Magic, while initially rather underwhelming, was a film which certainly improved with repeated viewings.  Since that effort, Stassen has co-directed (with Vincent Kesteloot) Robinson Crusoe, but for Son of Bigfoot the Belgian filmmaker has reteamed with his House of Magic partner Jeremy Degruson.  Happily, Son of Bigfoot, which features terrific animation, stands as Stassen's best achievement so far, and the humour in it should appeal to both children and adults alike.

The story centres on Adam, a young teen who is finding school rather difficult on account of a trio of bullies who won't give him any peace.  Adam's problems are compounded by both his hair and feet growing at a rate which neither scissors nor shoes can keep up with.  As the boy struggles to keep these strange developments from his (single) mum, the mother/son relationship becomes rather strained.  With not much in life going his way - there’s also a complication involving a girl he likes - Adam starts to think about tracking down his mysteriously absent father.

The movie's title has already informed us, assuming Adam is the son in question, who his dad is.  We soon have it confirmed that Adam's father is indeed Sasquatch, and he's been living in the woods for years in order to avoid detection by an evil pharmaceutical company who are desperately searching for a hair growth formula.  Adam locates his dad in the forest, but is soon joined by henchmen from the nefarious corporation; thankfully, some determined woodland creatures are on hand to lend support to Bigfoot and son.

As mentioned earlier, Son of Bigfoot's animation is especially good, and in technical terms the movie is easily the best of Stassen's films.  For a film where much of the focus is on hair, the animation has to be just right, and here the style is both convincing and appealing.  For perhaps the first time, Stassen's studio nWave have made a film that can at least take on the likes of Dreamworks, Blue Sky and Pixar, even if it will probably come off second best.  It remains to see where nWave will go from here - earlier this year, they parted ways with the heavyweight StudioCanal (who were nonetheless involved in Son of Bigfoot), although Stassen claims that his company will now move on to more expensive productions.  While many Bigfoot movies have come and gone over the years - Bobcat Goldthwait's Willow Creek being a recent, nerve-shredding example - Son of Bigfoot stands as a fresh, child-friendly take on the legend.

Darren Arnold

Images: StudioCanal