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Friday, November 03, 2006

Talking Animal Movies are Ruining my Life

Wrestling fans there's some stuff in here for you as well.

I've got nothing better to do so I'm going to go back to the early days of this blog and dissect this article bits at a time.

Dear Hollywood,
Why are you so lame? Why don’t you have a single original idea left in your collective head? Why do you hate audiences? Why do you continue to crank out by-the-numbers animated films that hold ticket-buying families and animation fans in contempt while trying to sell them tie-in merchandise at the same time?
Why do “Madagascar” and “The Wild” and “Open Season” and “Flushed Away” all have the same plot? How many domesticated menageries of circle-of-life-defying zoo pals actually find themselves tossed into the wilderness on a regular basis, learning the true meaning of family and home in the process?

OCC: You know I have no problem with him asking ths question about Animated Films but in fairness this may as well be asked about Live-Action films as well. Only in that case replace same plot with endless sequels and its pretty much the same thought.

Why did you make me sit through “Barnyard,” a movie where a bull with a milk-heavy udder played a guitar and sang Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down?” And why
was I expected to take that scene seriously for even one second? Why did that lactating bull’s pals have a rave in the barn, dancing to techno and getting
fake-drunk on milk and honey? Was it his milk they were drinking? And why did my four-year-old and nine-year-old nieces willingly walk out of that movie
with their mother, unconcerned with how it all ended?

OCC: Not exactly a ringing endorsement for that film, but sadly I'll still probably watch it.

Why did “Doogal” get made? What was it even supposed to be about? Why was Jon Stewart a talking coiled spring?

OCC: You know I've heard nothing but bad things about this movie, I simply have to watch this thing ASAP.

Why weren’t “Antz” and “A Bug’s Life” enough? Why did we need “Ant Bully” too? Were there not enough ant-centric films on the pop culture landscape? Did
all the DVDs of those other two movies turn to dust, creating an aesthetic void?

OCC: Sadly, I'll see this movie as well eventually but I couldn't agree more. I'm not really a big fan of Antz and A Bug's Life is my least favorite Pixar feature.

Why would I rather watch someone get beheaded on the Internet than sit through another one of these stupid, cheap, insulting, corporate toy commercials?
When will the eyeball-scorching awfulness end?

OCC: I'm all for less animal features but its not ending any time soon I'm afraid.
I don’t think you have an answer for that last question, studio pals, so I would like to be your guide in the wilderness. You are apartment-bound cats lost
in the jungle right now and you need someone to show you the way back to safety. I think you can still save yourselves before you all eat your own tails
and audiences begin turning their backs on you. This will be hard advice to follow but I can’t believe that none of you are up to the task.

OCC: This reminds me of someone. Someone who keeps telling TNA what they're doing wrong and how they need to fix it. This someone would like to believe them capable of listening even if this someone knows they are not. I am, this someone.

Take a break
First, you have to stop releasing animated features for about a year. Twelve months. Don’t shut down production. Don’t lay anyone off. Just take your time
with whatever is coming down the pipeline. Obviously you haven’t been doing that lately. And it shows.

OCC: This is not something that I would be opposed to seeing. Back in the day Disney animated features were an event because they didn't come along all that often. Its a different story now. However, the fact is that between the theaters and DVD releases and such a majority of these films end up on the right side of profitable and it would be like asking a wrestling company to scale back on its number of Pay Per View events in a given year to make them more special. In other words, it might be the right idea but it ain't going to happen.

It used to be, decades ago, that Disney was pretty much it. Every few years, one animated feature from Disney would arrive. And that was that. They were
great movies. People loved them. The studio would re-release them every few years. Audiences would return to theaters to see them again and again. This
is why everyone knows that Flower is a skunk and Lady is a cocker spaniel.

OCC: I just said that, try and keep up.

This year alone major studios have released eight animated features about talking animals. There’s also been at least one independent animated feature with
seals re-enacting “Romeo and Juliet” (it was called “Romeo & Juliet: Sealed With A Kiss,” if you don’t believe me) and two more major studio releases about
anthropomorphized cars and baseball equipment, respectively. It’s like we’re all geese and you’re force-feeding us candy 24/7. You won’t harvest paté made
of money this way. You’ll just make us throw it all back up. Audiences need a rest, no matter how much you all think you can’t take a break from picking
their pockets.

OCC: The fact that its 8 pictures involving animals doesn't surprise me at all. Fact is that animals are easier to animate than human's. If you do animals wrong its not as noticeable but a poorly animated human stands out like a good angle on iMPACT.

Back to the idea factory
Next, please begin wrapping your minds around this truth: you are creatively bankrupt. There’s more than one plot in the world but you’d never know that
from the movies that get green-lighted. So you must declare a decade-long (at least) moratorium on the fish/lion/bear/mouse/insect-out-of-water thing.

Even my favorite animated feature so far this year, “Flushed Away,” from Aardman, the folks responsible for Wallace and Gromit, is about a city mouse that
finds himself in the sewer. Where he learns lessons. The same lessons the “Open Season” bear learned. The same lessons the “Madagascar” flock learned.
I can now safely assert that for an animal to belong to a group of other animals where that animal can be nurtured and supported — a family that animal
can count on — is the most important thing ever in this world for an animal.

To say that this storyline has been been done is an insult to all the other things out there that have simply been done. It’s a premise that’s been pulverized
into a gooey pile of roadkill. So knock it off. Really, does it taste good when you chomp on each other’s ideas like this? Because it tastes like wet cardboard
on this end.

OCC: Part of the problem is that the formula is proven to make money. Finding Nemo was Madagascar in the Ocean and Open Season was Madagascar from another studio. Also in a way this is due also to the fact that it takes so long to make one of these films, roughly 3 years. If you are the studio behind The Wild, and you see that Madagascar is way too much like the movie you're currently making then you are pretty well screwed because you've got a deadline to meet and its not like you can just change your Lion character to another animal with a flip of the switch.

Famous people need not apply
Here’s another thing you might think about: no one really cares if Tim Allen or Julia Roberts is a voice in your crappy movie. Kids don’t. They don’t even
know who Julia Roberts is. It’s nothing more than a guessing game for media-savvy parents to play (“Okay, yeah the skunk is Wanda Sykes, but which rabbit
is Steve Zahn?”).

To this day I couldn’t tell you who voiced Thumper, but I know that little bunny well. Meanwhile, I don’t remember a single thing about any of the animals
in “Chicken Little” except that Chicken Little’s pig friend was kind of Gay Vague.

You’ve set off on the dumbest road trip ever, one where really expensive horses are drawing carts with no wheels. And yes, I think Steve Carell made a great
squirrel’s voice in “Over the Hedge.” But could another actor have done that rodent justice? Yes. And why? Because it was a memorably scripted character
— the only one in the entire movie.

OCC: Now I've been on thi sbandwagon for awhile now. Ask the typical person on the street for the name of the man that does the voice for Homer Simpson. Ask them and find out how many knew that Bart Simpson was done by a woman? There are talented voices out there that aren't attached to the biggest name actors in Hollywood.

Nix the cheesy tunes
There’s more: I don’t care that Counting Crows don’t get radio airplay anymore. Quit making them a party to the evil practice of dropping a pop song into
the soundtrack every five minutes because executives thought the script’s weak emotional cues needed more punch.

Hire writers you trust and let them write. Kick the marketing degree-waving suits out of the creative process. Wait until the movie’s an actual hit before
you plaster the little fuzzy creatures’ faces over every single product on the shelf at Wal-Mart and then make commercials where they shill for lawnmowers
and Pringles. If I’m tired of looking at their blank, poorly designed snouts before the movie even opens, that isn’t good for business is it?

And finally, if all else fails — and it has — just hire Japan’s answer to Walt Disney, Hayao Miyazaki, to shepherd the next one through. He’s a genius and
you all could learn something from him. But let the man work in peace. I’m begging you.

OCC: Of the 2 things here both are not likely to happen. The first is even more unlikely than the second. Those commercials and such make these films a lot of money, and that may be a good thing if the box office returns aren't so hot.

Thoughts: Overall, I thought it was a good article that made some excellent points. I think that the Author should've given credit where it was due though in 1 regard. Monster House was a pretty original movie as far as that went. Though thinking about it, he may as well have also mentioned the fact that the same plot done with these animals was also done with Robots last year and Cars earlier this year. So I am definitely in favor of the retiring the fish out of water plot for a good number of years. A wacky plot with good jokes might just be crazy enough to work.

For a more complete take from a professional see the Animation Guild Blog's Entry on the subject.

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