Billionaire aging explorer and rare animal collector, Burnish (Eddie Izzard) has captured a young Yeti and is about to reveal its existence to the world. It will be his crowning achievement. Aided by conservationist Dr. Zara (Sara Paulson), the Yeti is being kept in the Chinese high rise headquarters of Burnish Industries with the aid of an army size security force armed with electric cattle prods. The Yeti escapes to the roof of the building and when surrounded begins a baritone hum, starts to glow and in a flash is gone over the barbed-wire gate and into the night.
In the morning across town, Yi (Chloe Bennett) is up, dressed and storing her violin in her backpack, out the door leaving her mother, grandmother and basketball-obsessed 6-year old brother Peng (Albert Tsai) to wonder what she’s up to. Since her father’s death, Yi has been withdrawn. We soon see that Yi is a whirlwind of odd jobs. She walks a herd of pugs along the streets, babysits a toddler terror and ends the day emptying a maze of garbage cans in back of a sushi restaurant. Arriving home exhausted, she falls into bed and after feigning sleep when her mother comes in, climbs out the window and up to the roof. There we discover, under the stars, Yi’s sanctuary: wooden crates, sheets and quilts hung over rope strung with twinkling lights. Tacked to the wood, a map with pins and postcards. It is the trip she was to have taken with her father. Her day’s earnings are hidden in a box and she begins to play her violin. The sad melodies waft into the night above the city lit skies.
As the wind blows, the sheets billow and Yi sees a giant paw! Pushing back the fabric, she finds the sleeping Yeti. He awakens and soon Yi realizes he is harmless but his paw is hurt. She speaks to him, and through a series of comical grunts, she finally points to a billboard of Everest and discovers that is his home.
With Burnish Industry helicopters searching the skyline, Yi hides the Yeti she has named Everest and returns to her room. Eluding her brother and high school “most popular,” the smooth-talking Jin (Tensing Norgay Trainor), Yi gets medicine for Everest’s paw the next morning and fills her backpack to overflowing with grandmother, Nai Nai’s (Tsai Chin) pork dumplings. Fed and happy, Everest and Yi bond as she plays and he hums causing the sun to shine and her wilted plant to grow and bloom. But things are about to change.
Peng and Jin discover Everest on the roof and Yi and Everest are forced to make a run or should I say fly for it as Burnish Security and local police close in. Yes, Everest hums, glows and holds on for dear life. Yi and Everest begin to fly, gliding from building to building trying to get to the port and onto a boat that will take him home. Trying to stop Yi from sure disaster, giving chase on a motorcycle are Jin and a very excited Peng. In a series of comical events, Everest and all three children end up on the boat. The trek across China to take him home begins.
The cinematography of the trek across China is breathtaking. The music is lyrical and mystical. Moments of pure magic pop up from time to time, but overall the story written by the film’s director, Jill Culton, lacked imagination. A problem arose, the children identify it, solve it and move on. I suppose I have been spoiled by “Toy Story 4,” “The Lion King” and other animated films this summer, but I expected more. An hour in, I almost wished for the dialogue to stop so I could enjoy the music and the cinematography more.
Are there lessons to be learned? Loneliness, the loss of a parent, the relationship of man to nature, yes. For those 10 and under, Everest is funny and cuddly, the teenagers are hip and trendy and grandmother, Nai Nai is comical and witty. A nice family outing.
“Abominable” is rated PG for some action and mild rude humor.