Directed by: Franziska Buch | 103 minutes | adventure, comedy, family, fantasy | Actors: Jamie Bick, Hoang Dang-Vu, Friedrich Heine, Tobias Moretti, Laurentsio Pettersson, Lilly Reulein, Jessica Schwarz, Ken Takemoto, Justus von Dohnányi, Helmfried von Lüttichau
Far away in the Himalayas in beautiful Tibet, not only a number of monks live, but also a real Yeti. The Yeti isn’t scary or horrible, as suggested in the myth, but rather cuddly. In fact, the Yeti stands up for children and animals in need with its magical powers. In a heroic action, in which the creature tries to free a bear from captivity, the Yeti himself gets into trouble and is shipped to Germany with the bear and other animals without succeeding in his rescue attempt. There, the evil hunter Von Sneider – responsible for the animal trapping – tries to make a profit by selling the rare animals to the zoo director. In the same German city we also meet Pia, a ten-year-old girl. Pia lives with her mother and younger sister Marcella, her father passed away a year ago and Pia misses him terribly. She prefers to sit alone in her tree house, she hardly has any contact with peers and she also prefers to leave her family behind. One day she suddenly discovers the Yeti, who has escaped from Von Sneider’s shed. At first she is afraid of this big beast, but soon the creature manages to conquer her heart. Because Von Sneider has put up posters of his “lost dog,” Pia knows where to take the Yeti. Fortunately, she first takes a look and when she secretly peeks inside, she soon concludes that something is wrong. She flees with the Yeti, whom she has now called Yoko, but not until Von Sneider has discovered her and that the Yeti so wanted by him is with her.
What follows is a somewhat predictable, but entertaining adventure that is sure to keep young children entertained. Not only must Pia keep her mother and Marcella (who, of course, meddles in everything) in the dark about Yoko’s existence, she must also always outsmart Von Sneider – master of disguise. The bond between Yoko and Pia is getting stronger, but of course there is also a life lesson for the young teenager. With the scenario, which Knister (known from the Witch Lilli books) co-wrote, the makers of “Yoko” focus entirely on the young film audience. It’s not very exciting: every problem is quickly solved and the bad guys are very bad (the zoo director is more interested in setting up his animals than in their welfare), but they also make themselves very ridiculous in various slapstick moments. The acting can continue and will not cause annoyance; rather, the Dutch dubbing is a jammer for adult viewers. However, “Yoko” has succeeded as harmless entertainment for the target audience: an unpretentious adventure that they will most likely not ask for again.