What is it with The Weinstein Company? Harvey Weinstein is perhaps the smartest and savviest of the current Hollywood moguls, but his taste in animated films leaves much to be desired. Last year he launched his new company with the low budget (but clever) Hoodwinked, then fumbled with the British import Doogal. Now this? Weinstein’s art house competitors, such as Sony Pictures Classics (Triplettes of Belleville, Paprika, Persepolis), Warner Independent (Scanner Darkly) and even his previous studio Miramax (Renaissance), have picked up challenging adult animated features that push the envelope. Weinstein has apparently bought into the stereotype that animated films are childrens films – not family films, children’s films. He leaves on the table over a dozen brand new, more sophisticated international animated features (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Princess and everything being shown next week at the Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema) that are more deserving of U.S. distribution.Weinstein’s latest acquisition, Piccolo, Saxo and Company, is a French production, with animation produced in Romania and plot ripped from Paul Tripp’s Tubby The Tuba:
The film tells the story of a far away planet on which musical instruments live. Marco Villamizar’s tale follows Piccolo, Saxo and other brass and string instruments that band together to form a grand symphonic orchestra. The group goes on a quest to find musical notes and other instruments stolen by an evil doctor who dreams of building the perfect instrument.
Weinstein will no doubt dress Piccolo up with an all-star American voice cast and give it a token theatrical release en route to its permanent home on DVD racks at Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, etc. I have nothing against well made animated films for children (Curious George was a fine example), but animators need more visionary distributors who will expose U.S. audiences to the great work being produced around the world. Weinstein, Miramax, Lionsgate, Sony, Fox Searchlight and the others do a fine job with handling live action foreign films. Their animated siblings are waiting to be adopted.I’ve given this rant before. And I probably will again. Maybe one of these days I’ll end up doing something about it myself.