Computer Animated Movie-Writers Checklist

Today’s “Strange Brew” by John Deering. Care to add to this list?

(Thanks, Kurtis Findlay)


  • EHH

    5. Characters played by celebrities who have no distinctive and/or energetic voices and are just there to put names on the posters.

  • Geneva

    6. Protagonist everyboy with a heart of gold wins affections of generically competent love object girl!

  • http://www.onanimation.com Daniel Caylor

    7. Begins/Ends with stylish credit sequence that probably would have made a more original movie had it been done in that style.

    • http://carolwyatt.blogspot.com CW

      YES!!

  • 2011 Adult

    8. Everybody happily dances at the end to a cover of an oldie rock song, emitting from nowhere, that no child has ever heard of before.

  • NC

    9. Crotchety mentor learns to accept the hero for who he is.

  • victoria

    10. Ending leaves open possiblites for at least 2 sequels

  • Keegan

    He forgot to put TUDE.

  • Matthew Koh

    Name one computer-animated movie that does not have anything on the writers’ checklist.

    • http://www.taberanimation.com Taber Dunipace

      Finding Nemo? Aww damnit! One of the crabs did Kung Fu didn’t they?

      • http://www.staytoonedin.com Peter Bakare

        Ha lol
        Yeah it was brief and I don’t exactly know the discipline but it was definitely some sort of Kung Fu

    • http://www.stringstornasunder.blogspot.com Chris Powell

      Toy Story 3 :)

    • Ronnie Lane

      Up. All 3 Toy Story movies. Monsters Inc. only checks off the crotch test.

  • Hulk

    11. Overly Macho girl who can kick any boy’s ass, somehow falls in love with a nerdy, wimpy, screw up, Boy.

    • Giovanni Jones

      Add to that the interview with the Hollywood starlet doing the voice who said, “My character is a very strong woman. That’s what attracted me to the script.”

    • Giovanni Jones

      Oh, and add to that: “UNLIKE those princesses in those old, dated animated films who did nothing but wait for their prince. Of course, I haven’t seen them but my staff has done research into old stuff.

      “And I wanted to be in a movie my child could see, unlike my movies. Did I mention that I don’t let my child watch television?”

    • Funkybat

      “How To Train Your Dragon” is the only CG animated film I know of that has that trope, though I guess in a way “Up” had it as well. Oh, and “Ratatouille.”

      Of course, most 3D animated films I have seen didn’t feature love stories between two young people, or at least films I remember well…

  • Gerard de Souza

    12. Overdone smarmy asymmetrical attitudinal expression on every character at various points in the movie…but you were warned by the poster.

  • http://gervart.com Gbop

    It was all a dream, no wait, that’s a student film

    • Cartoonz Critic

      And Inception.

  • http://kambodiahotel.blogspot.com Moro Rogers

    Sometimes true isn’t funny.

  • JD

    13. When in doubt, bring on the bathroom humor.

  • http://rafatoro.blogspot.com Rafa

    14. All the characters are cross-eyed.

  • showplease

    Uhhhh…

    I can’t be the only person who instantly realized that everything on this comic’s “list” has appeared in maybe 2 Dreamworks movies tops. And more or less in every piece of entertainment ever made, outside of animation.

    Sorry but I find this just stupid, way off base, and not even based in reality or indicating any humor or insight.

    Let’s look at this.

    1. Only appears in Kung Fu Panda, and even then it’s kind of the point. Isn’t it?

    2. Again, has this really happened in more than 2 CGI films? Doesn’t this happen to be far more overused in say… EVERY OTHER type of “comedy” live action film?

    3. Again, uhm… This is a valid commentary about ALL films. It’s an overused trope for MOVIES. Not CGI films but all films, especially those targeted at a “hip” demographic.

    Seriously. Tell me, What is the author trying to prove here, other than the fact that he’s woefully out of touch and about as timely as a broken clock?

    4. Again, what the hell? Isn’t this AGAIN, a trope of not just every movie ever made, but of every cartoon, live action film, movie, TV show, stage play, comic strip, or video game ever made?

    Why is this even titled “Computer Animated Movie Checklist.” You could re-title it “Movie Checklist” or “Television Show Checklist” or and you couldn’t change a thing.

    How is this the least bit witty? I could make a satirical comic strip that states “The Sky is blue” but that isn’t really insightful or funny. Just a blank observation of a painfully obvious fact that applies to 1000% more than the one oddly, and strangely specific thing this refers to.

    • http://somebodyelseslightbox.blogspot.com/ Dani Boy

      Umm – Perhaps it would be in your best interests to take a small moment to step outside, breath in the fresh air, head back to your bedroom, sit back down in front of your computer, take a long good look at what you just wrote, and give yourself a firm smack round the face.

      • http://www.staytoonedin.com Peter Bakare

        Maybe not a smack in the face but surely just take a look in the drawer and maybe get rid of the ‘prescribed’ medication!

      • TempleDog

        Yeahhhh…mebbe a LITTLE too emotionally involved there, me lad me trout me weasel. Take Dani’s advice, head down to Timmy’s, grab yerself a decaf and a donut and relax, before you pop a hemorrhoid er sumpin’.

    • Matt

      Yes sir Mr. Katzenberg.

    • Lando

      You sir, have completely missed the point and in doing so have revealed yourself to be, what we currently refer to as a petulant fool.

      What you’ve just said, is the most idiotic thing i have ever read. At no point, in your rambling response were you at all close to getting the joke of the strip. Everyone in this forum is now dumber for having read it. I agree with Dani Boy, take a break and May God have mercy on your soul.

    • Metallicfire

      Not sure, but I think Rio hits all of them within the trailer.

    • The Gee

      Showplease, writing as a person who has written far too much and eventually realizing the very want to express anything was pointless, I think you should have just focused on how sloppy the gag cartoon is.

      The very fact that people are willing to overlook the mistakes in the “Strange Brew” cartoon and like this particular one means the gag works for people. They get the joke. So, that’s a good thing.

      I’ll be the first to mention the cartoonist mis-spelled the word “different” and the drawing of the pencil is totally messed up.

      That said, guys, cut Showplease slack.

      There’s a ton of cliches in most movies; she’s/he’s right about that.

      But, i think too many things nowadays are half-baked lists instead of solid stories.

      (the irony is that very “Strange Brew” “comic” really is only a comic because of a bad drawing of a hand holding a pencil and whatever that blue thing is. Otherwise, it is a one panel gag cartoon that is just a list)

    • Funkybat

      I did not take this as a swipe primarily at Dreamworks films. A lot of cartoons and live-action “comedies” made in the last ten years have featured some or all of these tropes. Dreamworks may be guilty of some of them in each of their films, but they are hardly alone.

    • Anoniguy

      Martial arts throwaway gag in shrek, and several others. Etc etc. This is a very dreamworks list.

  • http://zeteos.blogspot.com/ mick

    15. Blanket disdainful response on the internet by mostly anonymous people

    …I include myself in this by the way, just before any stones are thrown.

  • http://deaniac.deviantart.com Deaniac

    Cartoon Brew: The Comic Strip

  • Dino

    16. Characters are launched into the air by either a) an explosion, b) a ramp, or c) a catapult/springboard. At the height of their arc, characters are shot in slo-mo.

  • Sleezy Exec

    17. Disgruntled comments by people who can’t take a joke and takes themselves way too serious, on one particular animation site.

  • Pieter

    18. The father of the protagonist has to scream “You’re not my son!/ I have no son!” at a certain point in the movie.

  • 2011 Adult

    19. The heroes ride down a chute a la a roller-coaster, especially when the said chute wasn’t built for that sort of thing!

  • http://www.patnlewis.com Pat Lewis

    “Martial Arts Scene” really ought to read “Matrix Parody.”

  • Sarah

    This list is more for a student film then an animated feature.

    • Jorge Garrido

      The list didn’t say “suicide,” “looking dramatically into the bathroom mirror scene” or “slow motion running scene,” Sarah.

  • Toonio

    20. Make the hero a geek to empathize with your audience. Remember most of them are the ones who can afford overpriced movie tickets.

  • Michael F.

    21. Throw in a reference to a movie only adults understand. After all, they’re the ones paying for it.

    • Jorge Garrido

      Bonus: make it a really hackneyed, obvious, easy reference.

      • tommy

        “[Name], I am your father.”

      • Funkybat

        Oh, GOD….they really, really need to “retire” that one. No more Original Star Wars trilogy references, unless it’s something really original and unexpected. Also, no more “Beam me up Scotty” or “Houston, we have a problem.”

        Movies that use these references in any way that is not itself parodying their overuse in every other movie automatically earn my ire.

  • Sardonic Tuba

    22. Balding and/or Hawaiian-shirted studio head injures arm while patting self on back.

  • http://manvsart.com Raul

    Something cute, goes out and does a bunch of cute things, and learns a lesson.

  • David Breneman

    Oh c’mon! Who could forget #23. Fake outtakes in the credit roll?

    • http://www.stringstornasunder.blogspot.com Chris Powell

      actually haven’t seen that in a while! and would like too!

      • Funkybat

        Yeah, I always enjoyed the ones Pixar had, but they seem to have phased that out. I’ve missed them as well, though I admit that overuse could wear out their welcome…

  • Was My Face Red

    24. Flying (if the movie is in 3D.)

  • http://MrFun'sBlog Floyd Norman

    We’re waiting for that last wacky scene at the end of the credit roll.

    • Giovanni Jones

      I LIKE those! It’s my reward for sitting through the credits, which I enjoy, and also retribution for those who get up and block my view — hah! They missed the little button at the end of Winnie the Pooh!

      • Funkybat

        I would like to see some kind of serious drama or thriller have a “gag” at the end of the credits, just to mix things up. I sometimes sit through the credits of such films, secretly hoping there will be some kidn of easter egg at the end. No dice. It doesn’t need to be “funny” per se, maybe just some kind of addendum that adds some kind of icing on the cake of the whole thing.

        A great one would be if, after the credits of Inception, they cut back to the top and either showed it falling or still spinning. Maybe have both, show one version in some theaters and and the other in others, and let people argue about it around the watercooler…

  • http://www.shaneglines.net Shane Glines

    A character with stand with wide eyes and mouth agape (possibly in slo-mo) after witnessing no’s 1,2,3, or 4.

  • CC

    25. Slow motion

  • http://www.sweetposer.tk/urbmn/ Cameron A.

    26. When an urban character is moved to a rural setting, the urban character must learn to accept – even love – said rural setting, even if the rural setting is a go-nowhere shithole.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/OriginalGagBonkerss OriginalGagBonkers

    You are looking at the rules on how Dreamworks makes their cartoons. Anyways here’s something for the fun of it.

    27. If its a hit, make more sequels. That way it can make the first one look bad.

    • tommy

      You think it’s only about Dreamworks now, but just wait until Cars 2 comes out.

  • http://www.degrandland.com David DeGrand

    I really like this list, pretty spot on. Although the “Poochy” Simpsons episode is, in my opinion, the definitive commentary on executive decision making regarding kids entertainment.

  • Mal

    Someone farts.

  • Jesper Soelberg

    28. After weeks of eager waiting for something revolutionary original, you are left with a feeling that is best interpreted as : ” Was that it? “

  • tonma

    AWW! just wach the smurf movie when it comes out, it will be like a documentary on this list. :(

  • http://arschblog.blogspot.com Steffi Alien

    29. Main character has at least one sidekick or best friend who is either fat, nerdy, stupid, clumsy, crazy, strange, annoying,…

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/OriginalGagBonkerss OriginalGagBonkers

    30. Try to make everything “hip” by adding things that do not belong in the movie.

  • Alissa

    31. Obsessively render each individual hair while neglecting pose and mood.

  • http://www.bobharper.net Bob Harper

    32. Release a fantastic corresponding art of book to have all of us who pine for 2d say – “Wow why couldn’t they had made it look like THAT!”

  • Mark

    Make sure characters have hip hop rapper attitudes with smart ass attitudes . . . cause that’s hillarious after about the 1000th time.

  • http://www.adamoliver.com Adam

    33. When making a trailer, be sure to have the pace build up around 2/3rds in, then bring it all crashing to a standstill with a character walking smack into a wall/post/door/object, with appropriately enhanced sound FX. Then re-cue the upbeat soundtrack, now more ‘fun loving’ in tone if the first part was fast-paced.

    AKA, the smack-in-the-face money shot.

  • Was My Face Red

    34. Produce posters of odd pairings of every one of your 1,253 amusing characters standing under a pun, set against a sky blue background.

  • Slash Halen

    35. Pop Culture references. Lots and lots of Pop Culture references.
    Preferable 80s Pop Culture references. Because there’s nothing kids love more than hearing/seeing a reference to a show/movie that’s “old,” because old things definitely aren’t “stupid.”

  • Jorge Garrido

    36. Free pass from every critic and adult to be as sentimental and contrived as possible.

  • Jorge Garrido

    36. Art direction that’s streets ahead of the writing.

    Wait, that’s almost every animated film ever made.

    • Iritscen

      So very, very true.

  • The Gee

    This sorta goes hand in hand with items no. 1 and no. 2 on the list in the gag cartoon:

    At some point during the movie some character needs to say:

    “That’s Gotta Hurt!”

  • http://www.thepra.com.au Eddie

    37. A Character falling from some height then getting up with a hand in the air to say ‘I’m OK!!!’

    38. A fat animal character must do some form of rump shaking bum dance.

  • 2011 Adult

    39. “There is no ‘us’!”

  • Craig M

    40. “Awkward!”

  • http://Jasoncampbell.com Jason Campbell

    Metaphorical poop in fear/surprise/shock

    • dudewheresmycar

      Metaphorical???? If only!

  • http://hellyeahdesign.com Arthur Filloy

    41. During a tense and scary moment, main character and sidekick bump together back to back, then turn to face each other and scream simultaneously at the top of their lungs.

  • david

    i don’t know which is more upsetting to me, the fact that all of it is so true, or the fact that there are so many people here who have seen these crappy cg movies, and yet somehow continue to see them and criticize them.

    I don’t watch any new animation movies because of the reasons listed above and many others.

    I guess you can go through your life looking at train-wrecks or you can avoid them and enjoy the good stuff. I will do the latter.

    • Everett

      Rango was a recent CG movie that was really good.

    • Sibsy

      I think everyone goes to see these movies with the glisten of hope that maybe, just MAYBE they won’t be so bad.

      They fool us everytime!

    • Alissa

      You try avoiding it with children, or even siblings if you’re young enough. The sheer number of times I’ve had to hear some Shrek variation playing in the background at holidays…

      I’ve managed to hijack the dvd player once or twice with Looney Tunes, only to have my aunt complain about how “Those old, boring cartoons can’t possibly keep the kids occupied!” Despite her concerns nearly every one of the brats was completely silent for the first time all day; staring at the screen with rapt fascination.

      • snip2435

        You tell that aunt!

    • Jorge Garrido

      I watch every new animated film that comes out. I can’t help it.

      There’s often many gems and things to recommend them.

  • Nathan

    I just think it’s beautiful that everyone managed to stay roughly in order. There’s only one instance of the order getting messed up: #36. Other than that, everyone – regardless of what they wanted to say – managed to put it in the right order. Now that’s teamwork. Good job everyone – I’m proud of all of you.

    • Was My Face Red

      Yes, well done everyone. Now let’s try a write a script!

    • snip2435

      I believe the Brewmasters programmed these replies so they would all be in order.

  • http://kicreativestudio.blogspot.com/ Ki Innis

    Someone needs to make this into a T-Shirt. Like “now”.

  • Harry Lime

    Phew!

    Looks like The Incredibles is safe.

    • TimmyElliot

      Yep, I think the Incredibles is safe from the list (of course, I’m ignoring #1 and #4)

  • JG

    764. Originality.

  • LazyBoy

    42- At 3/4 of the movie’s length, the hero gets angry and splits up with his best friend/new friends/fellow mates who want to be his friend/the girl he wants to be with/his parents.

    43- When the two main characters meet themselves at the beginning of the movie, they both stare and scream to each other.

    44- Always put #43 in the trailer.

    45- ‘TUDE face on the poster, even for the most shy character.

  • Randy Koger

    Oh and don’t forget the scratching-the-needle-across-a-record sound effect for some funny or awkward moment and have characters look at each other in surprise.

    It’s guaranteed to be hilarious……never mind the fact that at least 75% of the audience wasn’t even born until a decade or two AFTER the last record was pressed and has no idea what the “funny” sound is.

    Oh, and the ballsy, kick-ass, overly-masculine Chick with the heart of gold….my most HATED movie cliche of all.

    • Tory

      They still make records, they are the only part of the music industry growing in sales last I heard. I believe it is used as a music instrument in some cases still.

      • http://christianscartooncorner.blogspot.com Christian

        Sometimes they are purchased for the purpose of listening to music. I have a few recently released records. I believe a digital master pressed into vinyl and played on a good sound system produces the best possible sound. I’m not an audiophile so somebody else could explain this better.

  • Lanigan

    46. Hey, the animation is actually good! Shame about everything else..

  • TempleDog

    5) Farts, insert where needed.

    6) Spend most of film budget on big name voice actors who will either ‘phone it in’ or ham it up bigtime.

    7) Neglect story and pacing for the sake of showing off latest fur and water rendering FX.

    8) Hire freelancers who’ve worked on other hit films so we can put ‘from the makers of X’ on poster.

    9) If it makes even 10 bucks more than what we spent on it, do it again next year.

  • David

    Damn the computers for introducing all these horrible problems with story, character & gags! If only they were traditionally animated they DEFINITELY wouldn’t have any of these medium-related issues…………….

  • Jesper Soelberg

    47. The Wilhelm Scream. ; )

    • Dognam H

      The Heimlich Manouever

  • Trent Murphy

    99. Neil Diamond voices a character based on himself and Jesus (Oh, wait. That got killed in development)

  • eeteed

    The villain is downed after the epic/climatic battle, the hero turns his back and faces the camera as he catches his/her breath and comforts the innocent victim. Just then, as all seems well, the villain rises from seeming defeat for a big shock/surprise/unexpected final attack.

  • Scott B.

    48. The Dolly Zoom Shot.

  • LazyBoy

    49 – Burping characters.

  • http://Juxtaminute.tumblr,com Juxtaminute

    49. The Protagonist is a natural born talent but he doesn’t know it yet. A few weeks before the big competition he learns of his new talent and begins training to defeat the most talented hard working villain in the world and beats him/her. The moral of the story? Once you find your talent you only have to work a few weeks to be a master. Oh and don’t be a villain.

    50. If an ethnic person does a voice over their character has to dance. Preferably in womens clothing.

    51. The villain has a thin mustache and/or a black and purple color scheme.

    52. Toy rendering is easy. Make toy movie. Water rendering gets better. Make Surfing movie. Hair rendering gets better. Make hairy princess movie. Feather rendering gets better. Make bird movie. etc.

  • andreas Wessel-Therhorn

    two male characters accidentally get too close and turn in disgust/scream just to keep kids safe from any idea of anything gay…sigh

    • Funkybat

      Hoping that one goes extinct. Haven’t seen it recently, but the idea is one that needs to go…

      • snip2345

        The Emperor’s New Groove.

  • Giovanni Jones

    Make a movie trailer with a lame gag about nicotine patches and thus turn away millions in box office revenues because of all the people who would have loved the movie if they had chosen to see it but didn’t because the marketing was smello.

  • Kitschensyngk

    Acknowledging that #36 and #49 were used twice…

    #55. Merchandising, merchandising, merchandising.

    Slap your movie on EVERYTHING: T-shirts, Happy Meals, coloring books, dolls, bedspreads, breakfast cereals, video games, Broadway musicals, spin-off TV specials you can flog on DVD…

  • Holly Martin

    #1000. Wine and moan about how terrible CGI animated films are instead of making my own animated films.

    • Ryan

      This is the best comment in the thread.

      • http://www.spitandspite.com abel

        Agreed. In yo’ face! hahahahahhaa

    • Harry Lime

      I couldn’t agree more old man.

    • plastic bottle

      Do you honestly think that the majority of us have the resources and time to make a CGI film? Even if we did, this argument is ridiculous. Making a film and critiquing a film are two completely seperate, mutually exclusive things. I’m sure you know that, but it makes you feel better about your crappy movies. I hate to tell you this, but your billion dollar movies can’t touch what Chuck Jones was doing with .5 percent of your budget 60 years ago.

      • Harry Lime

        You seem to be mistaken old man.

        You see, Holly merely stated that one should make their own animated films.

        The old man did not specify whether these animated films were CGI or not. He merely stated animated films.

        Unless of course you don’t consider stop-motion as animated?

        Really old man, read between the lines before you criticize ones opinion.

        Personally though. Chuck Jones didn’t touch Clampett, let alone Avery.

  • http://www.animatedtarun.com AnimatedT

    Yippee! I am happy to report none of my projects have those BUT on the other hand that is the very same reason I am afraid.

  • plastic bottle

    The up-turned eyebrow, crooked smile combo.

  • Derp

    At least some of the good pixar ones didn’t do it.