An inappropriate response to this book: “Remember the good old days when they were content just to be ink-and-paint girls?”
Last night, I walked into the theater hopeful but prepared for disappointment. After waiting for THE INCREDIBLES for what has seemed like ages, I had exceedingly high hopes for this film. The relentless onslaught of hype about Brad Bird’s latest, some of it on this very site, hadn’t helped the cause and further heightened expectations to an unreasonable excess. This film would have to be nothing short of one of the greatest animated films of all-time for me to not walk out of that theater disappointed.
Well, guess what?
THE INCREDIBLES is hands-down, without contest, the most entertaining animated feature I’ve ever seen. Yes, let me repeat that: THE MOST ENTERTAINING ANIMATED FEATURE I’VE EVER SEEN. Greatest film? Perhaps a bit hasty to make that judgement with the film still so fresh in my memory, but I can’t ever recall being so purely entertained and enthralled by an animated feature. This film didn’t just meet my expectations, didn’t just surpass them, it shattered them, crushed them into smithereens. There’s so many things I want to write about this film, so many little great moments and nuances that I want to discuss, but I’m not about to ruin it for everybody else. Experience this film for yourself and then we’ll talk.
One observation though: what was perhaps most impressive about THE INCREDIBLES was the flawless cohesion of its every element. The family dynamic could have easily been hampered with contrived emotion and heavy-handed sentimentality (just think back to the father-son relationship in FINDING NEMO); the non-stop action sequences could have turned into a muddy mind-numbing assault of color and noise, as most action films do today; the supporting characters could have become one-note annoyances that threw the viewer out of the story; the retro mid-century BG stylings could have become excessively ornamental and tacky. Everything could have and yet nothing did. Nothing did because Brad Bird is the best feature animation director working in the biz today, and he has struck the perfect balance between each and every element in his film resulting in an exquisite tapestry of story, character, animation, design, warmth, emotion, humor and satire. Props to Brad, and the entire INCREDIBLES crew – Tony Fucile, Lou Romano, Teddy Newton, Mark Andrews and the countless hundreds others – who have created an amazing cartoon and elevated this art form to new heights. As the credits started rolling, a person yelled out in the theater: “Encore!” I couldn’t agree more.
Two years ago I helped Kit Parker Films and VCI Entertainment put out a dvd compilation of Max Fleischer Color Classics, under the title SOMEWHERE IN DREAMLAND. It sold moderately well, in fact VCI is completely sold out at the warehouse. Before they do another press run, I’d like to “fix” the problems and upgrade the quality.VCI is going to correct the authoring and technical imperfections (sound pops, menu problems, etc.). I’m on the hunt for better print elements. I’d had several collectors write in to tell me they have a color print of TIME FOR LOVE. If that was you, I’d like to borrow it. If you have better copies (16mm or 35mm film only) of COBWEB HOTEL, FRESH VEGETABLE MYSTERY, PEEPING PENGUINS, or better copies of any of the Color Classics than were on the disc, and are willing to loan them to me, contact me at email@example.comI don’t need any video copies – and yes, I know the original materials are at UCLA Archives, but without permission of Republic/Paramount/Viacom we can’t touch ‘em.
I was invited at the last minute, last night, to attend the world premiere party for THE INCREDIBLES. Antran Manoogian (president of ASIFA-Hollywood) had an extra pass and gave me a call (Thanks Antran – I guess it really does pay to be a member of ASIFA!) and luckily I could go – actually, I’m facing deadline hell on a few assignments, but who can turn down a once in a lifetime opportunity like this!Get ready, I’m going to name drop. This was one of those big events, under a tent in the parking lot of the El Capitan theatre on Hollywood Blvd. I saw Jon Voight, Paul Dooley, Jeff Garlin, Sarah Vowell, Craig T. Nelson, Samuel Jackson, Edie McClurg, John Lasseter and Michael Eisner from afar… Tons of celebrities… Antran and I met up with and talked to Matt Groening, and we’ve hopefully convinced him to be a presenter at the Annie Awards in January. He seemed up for it. Then we ran into friends whom we talked with a bit: Bill & Sue Kroyer, Pixar’s Joe Ranft, Teddy Newton and met Lou Romano. I think I’m forgetting who else I talked to and saw… mainly because we closed the place talking to the man of the hour, Brad Bird (who reads the Brew regularly… and said everyone up at Pixar reads it too). I had only met Brad once before, we had lunch in 1995 or so… but he remembered exactly where we ate!What a night. An incredible party for an incredible movie. Gotta get sleep…
Another sad day in modern animation history (and it sure seems like we have a lot of them). The NY TIMES reports that Comedy Central’s sure-to-be-craptacular upcoming animated series SHORTIES WATCHIN’ SHORTIES marks the first time paid product placements have appeared in a cartoon series.
This article in the NY TIMES interviews Brad Bird about the beneath-the-surface politics of THE INCREDIBLES:
If such scenes provide some knowing moments for the red-state audience, there may be something hiding in “The Incredibles” for blue-state denizens as well. The villain of the piece, who goes by the name of Syndrome, creates a mechanical weapon of mass destruction to terrorize the world so that he can disarm it and make himself a superhero.
Will some be tempted to think of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
Mr. Bird insisted that it was not his vision of Syndrome, a vision that predated the election of Mr. Bush and the war in Iraq. But, he said, “if you connect that with George Bush, that’s all right with me.”
(via The Disney Blog)
Here’s a two-minute VIDEO CLIP of the late Jules Engel discussing a conflict he had with Walt Disney about a cartoon frog. He also takes a jab at other Disney artists who were too afraid of Walt to make suggestions: “That was the characteristic of the studio, you know. Nobody would speak up. They were all afraid of him…That was, I think, to a degree a mistake. Even if he would say, ‘No,’ but at least you put another idea in his head or another way of doing something. He wouldn’t bite you.” (Thanks to Wilbert P. for the link)
Animation artist Floyd Norman has written a terrific article for JHM about animator Frank Braxton, who he refers to as animation’s “Jackie Robinson.” I’ve always been curious to find out more about Braxton’s career and this piece sheds much light onto his life and work. Below is a photo published in ANIMATION BLAST #6 of Frank playing the guitar at a Format Films Christmas party (ca. early-’60s). Other people in the photo include Joe Siracusa on drums, layout artist Rosemary O’Connor on far left, and June Foray and animator Rudy Larriva getting their groove on in the center of the pic. Photo was taken by Ruben Apodaca.
RE: Your new “Scissor Sisters” music video
Nobody wants to see a male striptease in animation…EVER.
PS: The year is 2004, not 1984. Stop re-using stale Eighties character designs.
It shouldn’t. These are images (mainly original title graphics) from the LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION V.2 that have been restored to these classic cartoons for the first time in over 50 years. And wait’ll you see the restored versions of these cartoons that follow the titles. If for no other reason, this is why you should support the Golden Collection series – which goes on sale Election Day, November 2nd.
Saw THE INCREDIBLES tonight. The last time I felt this good was after seeing THE IRON GIANT.Brad Bird taps into my inner geek like no one else. I loved the film, which – along with the recent X-MEN movies, the Raimi SPIDER-MAN films, the 1941 CAPTAIN MARVEL serial and Fleischer SUPERMAN cartoons – ranks with the best superhero movies ever made. If you are a Pixar fan or a comic book freak; if you loved THE IRON GIANT, love superheroes, CG movies, great art direction, amazing visuals, action films, personal dramas, family films, and great fillmmaking… you will love THE INCREDIBLES. From it’s grainy 16mm newsreel opening to its 2-D stylized end title crawl – it’s a blast. It blows away those Soprano sharks and patriotic puppets. Pixar is six for six. Yay!
This 3-hour Windows Media lecture by character designer Chen Yi-Chang (MULAN, TARZAN, ATLANTIS) contains a lot of solid insights. Also, here’s a couple articles worth reading: a 1975 interview with Ken Harris conducted by Richard Williams (posted on the promising new blog SewardStreet.com) and this 1990 interview with Mark Kausler conducted by John Cawley for his book HOW TO CREATE ANIMATION.
Animation historian and ASIFA-San Francisco prez Karl Cohen saw THE INCREDIBLES yesterday. Here’s what he thinks of it:
Brad Bird is just about to be recognized as one of America’s greatest feature directors. The last time I had so much fun seeing a feature for the first time was when I saw the original STAR WARS. Pixar’s THE INCREDIBLES is that good. I was grinning from ear to ear most of the time and was on the edge of my seat half the time. It is full of action, adventure, delightful twists and turn, amazing inventions, great surprises, etc. Never a dull moment is an understatement. It combines the best elements of fun from films that range from James Bond to Spider-Man. It combines those elements into a new entertainment package that is simply incredible. Pixar’s animation seems flawless, the voice actors are exceptional, the actors can really convey a full range of emotions, the background art is stunning – in short a film this great only comes along once every decade or two.
I saw a check disc a few weeks ago, but tonight I got a physical copy of the finished product in my hot little hands. The LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION Volume 2 is (in my humble opinion) even better than the first volume released last year. Better cartoons, fantastic restorations, great sound, improved packaging, and amazing bonus materials.Obviously I’m a bit biased. I was a consulting producer on the project, contributed to several on-screen sound bites and audio track commentaries. You can read about the contents elsewhere – I’ll just tell you I’m proud of this beautiful product. Is it perfect? No. The package artwork could be better, the menu graphics are… well, ugly, and I made a small boo-boo in one of my commentaries (I refer to My Dream Is Yours at one point on my commentary for YOU OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES, but say Two Guys From Texas instead – my bad). There is also a reference on the packaging to disc 4 containing SINKIN’ IN THE BATHTUB. This was an error. SINKIN’ will appear on a future volume (though fans of earlier black & white Looney Tunes will be happy with numerous clips from Foxy, Buddy and Beans cartoons sprinkled in the various bonus documentaries – heck, there’s even a few “incorrect” clips from TIN PAN ALLEY CATS placed on the docs, for good measure).The new short, DAFFY DUCK FOR PRESIDENT is a real surprise! It’s funny, well made, and… educational! Fits right in the dvd along side OLD GLORY and SO MUCH FOR SO LITTLE.LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION Volume 2 will live up to your high expectations. “Thank you’s” for making this dvd set a reality should go to George Feltenstein, who oversaw the project for Warner Home Video; Constantine Nasr and his team at New Wave Entertainment for putting the bonus documentaries together with such care; Rick Gehr, the unsung hero behind the restoration process; and all the experts who lent their time and knowledge to making this set teriffic: Michael Barrier, Greg Ford, John Kricfalusi, Milt Gray, Mark Kausler, Daniel Goldmark, Keith Scott, Ruth Clampett, Stan Freberg, June Foray, Leonard Maltin, Willie Ito, Bill Melendez, Corny Cole and many others I’m forgetting at the moment.No matter what happens on Election Day, this dvd is guaranteed to make you feel better. Buy it!