It was pretty clear when I received The Legend of Sasquatch to review from DVD Talk who the intended audience for this low budget CGI animated film was. The DVD's slipcover was thick and dual-layered to allow for a patch of faux fur between that enhanced the wide-eyed and smiling Bigfoot that dominates the cover art. The Dove Foundation's Family Approved seal appears in the lower left.
And yes, sure enough, this 74 minute film is a simply animated and straightforward story made for little children about a young girl who meets a family of cute and utterly benign Bigfoot (or would that be Bigfeet?). They have magical crystals and can fly, but they're facing an ecological menace in the form of human activity: a dam that threatens their natural habitat.
And given the intended audience for this little movie, it seems to work for the most part. This is no Pixar or Walt Disney production - let's get that out of the way right now. The animation is bright and colorful, but it isn't particularly complex or interesting. There aren't any nods and winks to adult audiences either. The Legend of Sasquatch operates on one juvenile level: simple and basic.
Still, the characters are cute and expressive. Their heads are disproportionately large and they have even more disproportionately large egg-shaped eyes that help emphasize the wide-eyed wonder and emotions the characters are going through to young kids. The lead characters, Khristy and Maggie Davis (voiced by real-life sisters Jewel and Blaire Restaneo) are likeable enough heroines. Their immediate mentors are also well-realized, with parental authority that comes across genuinely. Khristy and Maggie's single father, John (Academy Award winner John Hurt) is a loving parent, and Ranger Steve (character actor John Rhys-Davies) serves as a kind caretaker of the forests.
The Bigfoot clan themselves are cute and cuddly, and the movie's script makes a smart move in introducing Khristy first to a baby Sasquatch who is more frightened of her than she of it. This would probably help alleviate some of the scare factor for little kids.
Perhaps the largest flaw in the film is its length. The Legend of Sasquatch would be greatly improved if 20 minutes of extraneous plot were cut out. A subplot, for instance, involving a gruff hunter and his put-upon dog out to capture a Sasquatch provides some comic relief but ultimately proves superfluous. Also, the loss of Khristy and Maggie's mother (which I thought could have been an interesting dimension to these kids) is hinted at several times in the dialogue but never adequately addressed. Ultimately, this could have been dropped as well, especially given the strong father figure of John.
Ultimately, The Legend of Sasquatch is a harmless kids movie that should entertain little children. I liked how it broached themes of ecology. There are good lessons here about human activity and its impact upon the natural world. However, with its simple animation and straightforward storytelling, there isn't much here for anyone over the age of ten. It's perfectly suitable as a rental for the young ones, but that's about it.
The Legend of Sasquatch is given an anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen presentation. Unsurprisingly, the rather simple CGI animation comes across quite nicely, with bright colors and good detail.
Two audio tracks - both English language - are present: Dolby Digital 2.0 and Dolby Digital 5.1. The latter appears to be the default setting and the one I listened to. It seemed perfunctory. Dialogue, music, and effects are mixed nicely, if a little blandly. The only real issue was the occasional narrative scene featuring Ranger Steve, whose voice seemed muffled by the too-loud cricket song in the background.
Subtitles are available in English and Spanish.
A trailer for the animated Impy's Island precedes the main menu. There isn't a link to this trailer in the menu system, but one does exist that provides access to the trailer for The Legend of Sasquatch.
More importantly, a feature-length commentary track is available featuring director and writer Tom Callicoat, producer Bill Gottlieb, and voice actresses Jewel and Blair Restaneo. A random sampling suggests it is lively and informative.
Two featurettes are also provided. Behind the Scenes Featurette (11:52) is hosted / narrated by sisters Jewel and Blair Restaneo and heavily emphasizes the music production and vocal talent - perhaps as a way of name-dropping the recognizable talent utilized in the making of the movie - over the actual animation of the movie. Behind the Scenes with the Sheldon High School Choir (4:47) delves more deeply into the choir that provided some of the background music for the film. Both seem targeted towards young viewers (no surprise) and are okay, if superficial. Both featurettes are presented in full frame.
The final option in the Extras menu is The Legend of Sasquatch Quiz, which asks 12 multiple choice questions about the plot and characters of the movie. The question and choices are given, and after a few seconds, the answer is provided. It would probably have been more fun for kids had it been interactive and allowed them to choose an answer with the remote control.
Innocuous and syrupy, the kid-friendly, G-rated The Legend of Sasquatch is a simple CGI animated film that should entertain little children. Unlike much larger budgeted animated fare from Pixar and its ilk, however, there really isn't anything for adults to admire here.