Animated Euro-Trash

Each year I’m dismayed at the lack of U.S. distribution for several high quality theatrical animated features, out of the dozens of really good ones, produced around the world.

However, I recognize that not all non-U.S. features are of the quality of The Secret of Kells, Persepolis, Waltz With Bashir or The Triplettes of Belleville. Here are two examples of recent Euro-features that will probably never see the light of day at an American multi-plex (though I wouldn’t rule them out from the $1 dollar bin at Target):

The first, a Germany Danish film, Sunshine Barry and the Disco Worms

The next, a Belgium-Luxembourg co-production, is based on the graphic novel by Willy Vandersteen, Bob and Bobbette and the Devils of Texas:

Read more CGI

  • PeterHo

    Well, but still being from USE, doesn’t excuse You to recognize that the language of the first one is not German, but Norwegian. The film is co-pro from Norway, Finland, etc. And it doesn’t look bad at all. For sure – much better than half of the USA productions.

  • http://outoftheinkwell.blogspot.com Mike Dobbs

    I love how they have the blonde female worm breasts! This made me laugh so much at work, one of my reporters wanted to know what kind of mushrooms I had ingested!

  • Karim

    Bob & Bobette, as French as it sounds, is a Belgium-Luxembourg joint production.

  • Rufus

    Yeah, these do seem pretty shitty. But let’s be fair, just as much crap is coming out of the states.

    The thematics are pretty garbage actually. The production isn’t the best I’ve ever seen, but it’s the themes that annoy me.

  • http://Heibies.deviantart.com Phil

    The Worm one doesn’t look half bad.

  • VonDrake

    The second clip, Bob and Bobette, actually looks pretty good. The animation is fine, as well as the look in general. Sure, it’s not on the level of Pixar, but probably neither was the budget or the schedule.

    It does have a certain retro-comic look going for it that seems kinda cool.

  • Lucy

    Eh, those look pretty cute, actually :) Not everything can be the next Toy Story, but, hey, doesn’t mean they can’t be fun. The music for the Worms one was pretty nice, I thought. Worm breasts, ehhhh a little creepy, but yeah, these didn’t look half-bad.

  • Michel Van

    You think thats Bad ?
    there much worst Euro Trash !
    (by the way its called “Euro Pudding” over here)
    Some Of worst TOM & JERRY movie were made in GERMANY !

    on “Bob & Bobette” aka in dutch “Suske en Wiske”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spike_and_Suzy
    this Comicstrip serie has a long tradtion of Animate TV-serie&Movies even a puppet TV-series and Live action Movie and is 100% Flemish prodution (Belgian Dutch community)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luke_and_Lucy:_The_Texas_Rangers
    from the 1980s Animate TV-series
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2V6cpT7QKn0
    the 1970s puppet series intro
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbUpLqZ20q8

    another Masterpiece of German Animation never gona come to US is,
    the “Werner” series, here the anarchic “Footballgame”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=je_ZbyBMQpI

  • Joel Brinkerhoff

    I’m surprise no one has mentioned the ‘Tin Tin’ design sensibility in Bob & Bobbette yet. I guess I just did.

  • http://www.pitchbibles.blogspot.com Steve Schnier

    Sunshine Barry and the Disco Worms doesn’t look half bad. Yeah, I have to agree about the female work with the… ahem… worm boobs.

    I was hoping that it all took place inside some fat guy’s intestinal tract.

  • Donald C.

    Must be West Texas.

  • GhaleonQ

    Yeesh. I guess the Fimfarum series isn’t the norm.

  • http://www.LarryAnimation.com Larry Ruppel

    Hey, I was Head of Animation on Bob & Bobette. There’s quite an interesting story about the making of that feature. I think it’s a fantastic model of what can be done with a small budget (maybe 15 million dollars??), and a whole lot of passion.

    We made that feature in Belgium and Luxembourg with only 14 animators, and I thought frankly that they all did a terrific job. Same for the lighting and rendering crews. It’s based on a much-beloved comic series that has been running for over 50 years.

    For more on the making of Bob & Bobette, check out this page on my website: http://www.larryanimation.com/html/bob___bobette.php

    Cheers!

  • sweetbottom

    I got to see Sunshine Barry and the Disco Worms at the Toronto Film Festival in 2008 and man did it land like a dead ballon. The animation is flat out boring and the story is so paint by numbers that the children at my screening either fell asleep or kept asking why any of the character make any of the choices they did.

    Avoid this movie at all costs.

    As for the Bob & Bobette film, I think it at least looks applealing (kind of a Tintin inspired look don’t you think?) The real problem with most feature animated films is thier complete lack of story. A good story can support even the weakest of animation as long as the viewer is intrested. I mean look at all the crappy Flash animations on the web. Many of them have decent funny concepts but crude animation, yet millions of people still watch them.

  • http://www.eunqqq.com EunQ

    Parody of Jessica Rabbit in second trailer was cute.

  • http://kelseighn.blogspot.com Kelseigh

    Honestly, I don’t see what’s so bad about either of them. Is it because they don’t have the same budget as Pixar? Sunshine Barry looks like fun with some interesting sensibilities, and Bob & Bobette has a really appealing BD quality about it that I like, even if the movement’s a bit ragdoll in some of the physical humor. I especially like the bit at the end of the Bob & Bobette clip, where even Bobette is momentarily caught up in the “look at the sexy singer” trope.

    I’d rather see either than Yet Another Shreck Movie.

  • http://animationinventory.blogspot.com/ Teodor

    hm,what is the purpose of cartoon brew?

    Made in Europe 2009 with Secret of Kells are Mia et le migou, les lascars,Mullewapp- das grosse kinoabenteuer der freunde,Keriti…
    They are all 2d feature and they are all cheaper than the princes and the frog but they look richer!

    and what we get from America? Dante’s inferno?

    Even serbians got their Technotise.The Russians certainly have some feature.

    Please, Jerry. A few days ago we are warned that we must watch on our behavior.

    You could put on the list Arthur and the Minimoys,arthur and the revenge of maltazard, lucky luke go west or nocturna

  • http://www.LarryAnimation.com Larry Ruppel

    “EunQ says:
    Parody of Jessica Rabbit in second trailer was cute.”

    Thank you EunQ! I animated half of that sequence, along with the incredibly talented French animator Loic Tari.

  • Joel Brinkerhoff

    Yes, I meant Tintin, not Tin Tin as in Rin.

  • JMatte

    I loved the books of Bob et Bobette as a kid, and even as an adult! I do agree that some of the animation looked a bit rag doll here and there (Lambique slamming into the train), but overall it looks like a fun film, especially if it has captured the feel of the original source.
    I’d love to see it, but the chances of it getting distributed over here…nuh. Not so good. As mentionned, a lot of these productions never cross the pond which is a shame.

    Plenty of good productions in Europe as others mentionned (saw a bit of Les Lascars and it was really REALLY fun!), which would be nice to see highlighted on Cartoon Brew.
    For example: no mention of Chomet’s next film ” L’Illusioniste” ? There are some nice production pictures on the web.

  • http://aalong64.blogspot.com Aaron Long

    I honestly think the first one looks pretty fun. Not necessarily ‘good’, but more enjoyable than the vast majority of modern animated movies.

  • Geoff

    I liked them both, for the most part (I thought the animation seems a little choppy during the aforementioned Jessica Rabbit parody, but that could’ve just been my connection

  • Bill Field

    Bob and Bobette looks quite Herge-like, so it could actually be entertaining…

  • Isaac

    What’s with the snide remarks? The Bob and Bobette trailer seems polished and professional. The worms look fine too. This is not blockbuster material, but it’s certainly not trash.

  • Jessica P

    I saw Sunshine Barry at TIFF in 08. The designs were uninspired but I thought the story was incredibly sweet. Everyone in my theatre, at least, seemed to have a good time and I was glad I went.

  • A pink elephant on parade.

    Yes worm tits are weird but so is seeing the same old snarky Cartoon Brew attitude again, right after you lectured us on how to behave.
    If you really do want to be the world’s number one animation discussion site at least do a little research before you get all the countries of origin wrong. Great to see so many people speaking out against the sneering tone though and giving euro underdogs the benefit of the doubt though.

    On a happier note – two things to look forward to. I’ve seen some Chomet clips and you’re all going to be very happy – and Lascars is a good one too.

  • http://kitschensyngk.deviantart.com Kitschensyngk

    Snake boobs?

    Suddenly I am reminded of the Nostalgia Critic’s rant on “bunny boobies” in his Space Jam review.

  • sporridge

    Re “Disco Worms” — hey, was that the same guy who usually plays the lead Mucinex virus?

  • Marcus

    A worm doing a pulp fiction dance parody … Does this gag need to be in every animated movie?

    I never liked “Bob et Bobette”, and I guess this will not help me change my mind.They all look stiff, the design doesn’t help for sure, but there’s also a lack of weight control and skinning issues. In the “Jessica rabbit” part I couldn’t stop staring at her mud shader hairdo, not to mention the dead eyes.

    If I was forced to see one of this movies I would go with the worm
    it seams hysterical but at least they look more alive.

    “Sight”

  • http://okgrillo.blogspot.com Oscar Grillo

    I am sure that Bob et Bobette is trying to anticipate the success they expect to have soon with Titin’s animated adaptation. Bob ent Bobette (‘Suske en Wiske’) is a comis that have been published in Belgium in “Tintin”s magazine since 1950. There is something innocent in it that I find attractive, and since the Americans like the atrocious Archie I don’t see much wrong in liking Bob et Bobette.

  • Alfons Moline

    Actually, about a dozen of the Bob & Bobette albums had been published in the U.S. in the 70´s under the title of “Willy & Wanda” by San Francisco-based Hiddigeigei Books. More recently, a few more B. & B. titles have been translated into English in the U.K. as “Spike & Suzy”.
    By the way, I would like to mention another 2D European feature made recently at Acció Studio in Barcelona, “Cher Ami” (working title: “Flying Heroes”), a story involving pidgeons and other farm animals set in France on World War One. You might think that this sounds like a “Valiant” rip-off… but actually it is not, as it this feature had started being planned a few years before “Valiant” came out! This attempt to re-create the look of good old classic Disney features premiered in Spain last summer (its director, Miquel Pujol, has in fact drawn many Disney comic books for the European market for decades; also, several fine animators who worked at Disney´s now-defunct Paris studio worked on this movie), but sadly it was not very successful at the box office.
    You may watch the trailer for “Cher Ami” just by clicking “cher ami trailer” on YouTube.

  • http://www.enigmation.de slowtiger

    The worms look very funny, and although I don’t care much for Disco, I think this could be fun to watch. Each scene reminded me on the problem to animate Sir Hiss in “Robin Hood” – no hands, but many gags. The Bob & Bobette looks stiff, I’m afraid, no weight and no real exaggeration – in that respect it fits the comic which I recall as being not very exciting at all.

    But both films don’t qualify as trash! Lots of work was put into the design, each film has its own style, the voices are OK. “Trash” in my book would be “Barbie and just another fairy tale”: cookie-cutter fodder for TV just to sell those dolls.

    There were several good films produced in Europe, unfortunately they don’t get released in every country even here. “Lascars” is top notch, the best hip hop themed animated movie so far. “The Illusionist” premiered at the Berlinale on Tuesday, they didn’t had the credits finished, so Sylvain Chomet asked 24 of his crew onto the stage which was a very nice move. It’s a quieter and smaller film than “Triplettes”, more emotion than action.

    “Lacars” had a 6 mio € Budget, “Illusionist” 22 mio €. Both feature finest 2D animation, distinct style and story, and they’re made by comparatively small studios. And they’re more interesting to me than yet another Princess & Frog.

  • Grooshenka

    What’s wrong with you people? How can you defend this stuff? Aren’t the standards of animated feature films low enough for you these days? How can those ugly worms moving like some kind of legless cripples not make you wanna throw up? Real-life worms have tons of appeal compared to that! Or how about those creatures in the second trailer with poked out eyes? Doesn’t the job animators’ve done on them redefine the word ‘unprofessional’? And the thing is – it’s not about budget. No money in the world could’ve saved this trash and made it fun to watch.

  • http://gagaman.blogspot.com Gagaman

    I’d rather see that daft but funny looking worm film than Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 or Quantum Quest, that’s for sure. The beginning of trailer’s insane shouting commentary make me laugh out loud for some reason.

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

    I also think both look pretty fun and quite well done.

    I liked the Pulp Fiction gag in the worm trailer, it’s overdone, yes, but this is a female worm doing the movement without any extremities at all, you have to love it. She does looks a lot like Uma Thurman, considering she’s a caricaturized worm. The animation seems to be pretty good, much better than Hoodwinked, for example, and the designs are fun and appealing.

    The Bob and Bobette one seems a little less fun and more rigid on its movements , but the story doesn’t look half-bad and it’s curious to see Herge-like designs in CGI. I’m almost certain Peter Jackson and Spielberg will go for a “realistic” look of Tintin, which would probably scare the hell out of me, just like that realistic smurf we have seen in The smurfs movie promo picture.

  • http://www.LarryAnimation.com Larry Ruppel

    Dear Jerry Beck,

    Judging from the above 35 comments, it seems most of your readers have a very different opinion on the appeal of the European feature films “Sunshine Barry” and “Bob and Bobette”.

    In fact, perhaps the Cartoon Brew community might actually prefer to hear about the making of these productions, which could be far more useful and interesting to those truly interested in character animation.

    The feature of Bob & Bobette is more or less faithful to the source material, which means it’s charming and endearing, and that’s how the character animation was approached. It’s no blockbuster, but there are exciting sequences, and overall there’s an epic feel to it. The reviews were all positive, and there may very well be more films in the future.

    As Head of Animation for Bob & Bobette, responsible for the hiring, mentoring and supervising all the animators, I would be more than happy to participate in a discussing the production of the film here on Cartoon Brew. I can offer exclusive clips as well as many production stories, just as I did for a “Making of” conference at the 2009 Annecy Animation Festival.

    I suspect the creators of “Sunshine Barry” might welcome this idea as well.

    What do you think?

    Cheers,
    Larry Ruppel

    P.S. For more on the making of Bob & Bobette/Suske & Wiske, check out this page on my website: http://www.larryanimation.com/html/bob___bobette.php

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com Jerry Beck

    Larry Ruppel – I’m sure your film is a faithful adaptation of the comic novel it is based on and will satisfy its intended audience. The point of my post was that these are two features that will not make it to the U.S. as they have no commercial value here. I may have been a tad harsh grouping them under the headline “Euro-Trash”, but I meant no offense to the talented animators you supervised. Cartoon Brew welcomes information on all animated features and shorts in production around the world, and we hope you will keep us apprised of your next endeavor.

  • guest

    @ jerry beck: the undertone of your post makes me wonder wether there is a culturally-rooted form of racism in the us.
    without second thought you degrade other peoples work and generalise a whole continent. well done. proud to be an american, i guess…

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com Jerry Beck

    guest – “Euro-Trash” is a common expression meaning “junk from Europe”. No country has an exclusive on bad cartoons. We have plenty of crap being produced here in the States and we post about those projects with even more venom (Freaky Flickers, anyone?). I do a WORST CARTOONS program at Comic Con and only show North American films in it. I have no bias in my love of bad animation.

  • vzk

    B&B wasn’t bad, but not outstanding either. The slapstick involving the mustachioed guy felt like something that would annoy Sideshow Bob.

    Did anyone catch the Brokeback Mountain joke?

  • http://animationinventory.blogspot.com/ Teodor

    and, where is bad animation in these clips?
    some other things are junk.this two clips are not

    you know that:
    -definition of animation is one thing
    -technique of animation is another thing

    my only litle minus for Bob and Bobette is to much black shadows.
    Nothing else.Nice animation in that.
    Thanks to god-there is no cal-arts junk template

  • Grooshenka

    ‘technique of animation is another thing’

    Yeah, right. I imagine how that guy above, Head of Animation, was thinking one day ‘I wonder which technique should we choose? I know! We should make them zombie-like! Without a single muscle in the face moving! That would be so much fun!’

    ‘Bad’ is not technique.

    ‘Thanks to god-there is no cal-arts junk template’
    Each and every scene in the trailer is a cliché.

  • http://animationinventory.blogspot.com/ Teodor

    ok
    Barbie vs Bob & Bobette

  • julien
  • w

    This whole comments list is fun. It’s a job, not your personal dignity on the line. We’ve all worked on our share of crap and quality craft, and most likely on different continents over the years. Doesn’t hurt anyone to have a sense of humour about it!

    (Personally, I’d love to hear what Bakshi thinks of the Werner series. I kinda like ‘em.)

  • http://www.afilmla.com Hans Perk

    There is also another issue that no-one seems to touch upon, and that is one of budgets – for production as well as pre-production. I will only speak of films in Denmark, as my own studio A. Film has its HQ there (no, we did not make Disco Worms). We find that we often are forced to make films that try to make their money back IN Denmark, a country of 6 million souls, which means that we must make features for about the cost of a US TRAILER- or less! This goes especially for the smaller outfits like the one that did the Disco Worms – it was made by a very small but dedicated crew who KNOW that they will never see a profit because the way films are financed by subsidies and distributed country by country by non-mayors just does not give much of a return. Subsidies do make it possible to get started on the film, but the small amount that should cover writing and pre-production is normally not enough to rewrite and rework the material until it is really production-ready. Often investors want to see finished frames after a first draft of a script. Which is where we often as a studio have to invest our own funds, and folks like the Disco Worms guys may not even have been able to do that. We at A. Film have been in the business long enough to have had more international experiences including with a plethora of US production companies, and made more expensive films, but we still also have to make the smaller films, which we HAVE to make well, for in the cinemas they cost the same to see as the big US features. At times it is amazing that the small local films even can exist, when one considers the circumstances. Of course, it does not help anyone in the business in Europe when the films get bad reviews abroad…

  • Kristjan

    One man is trash is another mans is diamond. With that said as im form Iceland, usually perfer the American animation. But I can make expection for example the Asterix films (mostly for the fact that they are based on wonderful comic books).