Friday, September 2, 2011

Keeping the Magic of Animation

            Ever since I saw “How to Train Your Dragon” and “The Princess and the Frog” on the same day, I knew I wanted to go into animation. Something about taking paper and pencil and making a movie out of it was mind blowing to me, and there are so many things you can do in animation that doesn’t work in live action.
            But that’s not to say that people haven’t tried. Everyone remembers “Lady and the Tramp” or “Dumbo”, and who doesn’t love Dug from “Up”? These are all good movies with animals. You know what nobody remembers? “Cats and Dogs”, the 2001 movie put out by Warner Brothers. This movie was star studded! Alec Baldwin, Jeff Goldblum, Tobey Maguire, but hardly anyone remembers this one. Probably because it was really bad. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t stand any live action movie where there are talking animals. For me, the animation just doesn’t work. That goes for live action movies with entirely computer generated characters, like “Smurfs” or “Alvin and the Chipmunks”. I mean good gracious, why do people see these movies? Much as I love Neil Patrick Harris, you couldn’t drag me into the Smurfs movie with a tow truck. Whatever happened to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” That movie is wonderful, combining animation with live action while not really being for kids. There are some really disturbing images in it, which is more than I can say for “The Garfield Movie”. Unless of course you find Garfield frightening.  It doesn’t help that every other line in these movies concerns one of the following: A) Pee. B) Poop. C) Butts.
            Which brings me to my next topic. Now, from spending time around some of my cousins, I know that most little kids will laugh at a potty joke. I mean, even I will laugh at a well-constructed potty joke. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing they will laugh at. So for god’s sake filmmakers, please stop it. If Pixar has taught us anything, it’s that you don’t need a surplus of toilet jokes to keep kids interested in your movie. You don’t have to throw a bunch of colors and flashy lights at children to keep them watching either.
            Sometimes, movies surprise you. For example, when I saw the trailer for “Alpha and Omega”, I thought it looked pretty good. It starred Justin Long, who I like, and the story seemed interesting. When I actually saw it, I was quite underwhelmed. The animation was chunky, the story was predictable, and the writing was boring. When I approached “The Goofy Movie”, I honestly wasn’t expecting much. However, I was pleasantly surprised. While it was by no means a masterpiece, the animation looked really nice and the songs were pretty catchy. The story, about a father trying to connect with his son as he grows up, is actually a really relevant topic. And though it’s not a perfect movie, it seemed like something parents could watch with their kids and enjoy too. It was a direct to video movie, but probably one of the best of its kind. It was nice to see that Disney had actually put effort into Goofy’s only full length movie.
            This brings me to my final point. Animation is a movie making tool. Used correctly, it can entice you with beautiful visuals, captivate you with interesting characters, and be something that you enjoy watching with your children. Used wrongly, it can be a gimmick. Something you use to draw children into your poorly constructed cliché fest of bad animation, which they will unfortunately probably enjoy anyway.
            Animation is magical. Let’s treat it that way.

Rayna, here’s hoping you show your kids “Toy Story” and not “Open Season”.

Louisa would like to apoligize if she offended you or your favorite movie. If you in fact did like The Smurfs movie, she apologizes for offending you and for your poor choice in movies. But really, feel free to defend yourself in the comments. Though it will most likely be in vain.

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