It’s baa-ack! The days are getting longer and warmer, but the real sign of spring’s incipient arrival is of the return of the New York International Children’s Film Festival.
Why do I always start salivating when I’m invited to an event in the Viacom building? Oh yeah, it’s because they always put out the nicest spreads - and whatever they’re promoting is usually pretty interesting too.
Well, I finally got to speak to Bernard Derriman. Speak as in actually talk to him, as opposed to our Email ‘conversation’ back in 2005 when I wrote about animated music videos and his now justly famous Everyone Else Has Had More Sex Than Me. Our paths crossed again when I wrote about Fox’s new Sunday night cartoon Allen Gregory.
Derriman directed two out of the show’s seven initial episodes; if the series gets renewed (which all depends on how much America takes an arrogant pipsqueak to their hearts) he’ll be doing more of them. At the moment he’s busy with Fox’s other Sunday night backup toon Bob’s Burgers.
Can a former supporting player (Shreks II, II and IV) carry his own film? The answer is yes, especially if it sets up his backstory, introduces a female rival/love interest, provides plenty of entertaining set-pieces and a despicable villain or two.
What to do with these characters has been Warner Bros.’ challenge for years now. The classic theatrical shorts have matured from classic to just plain old. (Masterpieces all, but old just the same.) Attempts to bring them up to date have given us excretions like Loonatics, so-whats like Baby Looney Tunes and faux old-time toons like Carrotblanca. Under exec-producer Sam Register, they’ve finally gotten it right: contemporized their merrie menagerie while keeping their core personalities intact.
The year-plus early teaser trailer is a given for spectacular genre movies nowadays… but how about the full release of an entire movie – an animated Pixar film at that – some ten months before its official premiere? In this case however, the Pixar film in question runs all of seven minutes and is set to accompany the summer 2012 release of Brave, Pixar’s next full-length feature. It’s called La Luna, and it’s the story of a boy, his dad, granddad… and their peculiar relationship with the celestial body of the title.
Saturday morning at the movies, watching a cartoon – what could be more reminiscent of the joys of childhood? Well, the cartoon this particular Saturday morning (September 10, 2011) was not exactly the kind of matinee I used attend back in Brooklyn when the theaters had ‘matrons’ who kept the kiddie section in line. Today I’m wearing polarized lenses and watching Disney’s upcoming 3D re-release of The Lion King.
Veteran voice actor Jim Cummings has vocalized Winnie the Pooh and Tigger for over thirty years. His enthusiasm for voicing the bear and the tiger is of Tiggerish proportions, as you're about to read...
The New York Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art’s Education program rolls on, ably overseen by the museum’s Senior VP of Education, Danny Fingeroth. Fingeroth’s impressive credits include a lengthy stint as group editor of Marvel’s Spider-Man books. As part of his job Fingeroth rounds up pros and the level of Peter Kuper, Larry Hama, Paul Levitz and J.M. DeMatteis to share their knowledge and experience with aspiring comics creators.
The Transformers may be raking in the box office gold and G.I. Joe battled COBRA in the multiplexes, but while those once-upon-the-eighties Hasbro cartoon shows made the leap from TV cartoon to big screen live action, the diminutive equines collectively known as My Little Pony have returned in a new animated series that has surprised a lot of people. To put it simply, The Hub Channel’s My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is one hip show.
Well, I guess it was too much to hope for, lightning striking twice in a row. (Then again, Pixar was able to pull it off to the third power with its Toy Story iterations.) But to put it bluntly, Kung Fu Panda 2 is no Kung Fu Panda. No, it’s not bad, it’s just that if KFP was a home run with two men on base, KFP2 is a double – a solid double nonetheless, maybe even drove in a run, but still a double. (Make that a triple if you’re not as much in love with Kung Fu Panda as I am.)
Lord knows I had my reservations about the entire affair. Trying to do something with these characters outside of the short cartoon format where they were at their best has always been risky; with one or two exceptions (like say, Taz-mania), the less said about efforts like Loonatics Unleashed, Space Jam or Looney Tunes: Back in Action, the better. But in brief, my personal reaction to the first episode… The Looney Tunes show works. I like this show – a lot, as a matter of fact.
Ever have a friend who was just the funniest guy you knew? Always coming up with great jokes completely out of left field, or riffing on whatever was happening at the moment? You graduate and go your separate ways, then six years later you meet up again. You can’t help but notice he dresses a lot better than he did in school. He still tells jokes, only now a lot of them are what he heard last night on Leno, or he’s quoting the catchphrase of the moment. It was fun seeing him again, but it’s not the reunion you were hoping for. That’s how I felt walking out of Hoodwinked Too!: Hood vs. Evil.
The 2011 edition of the New York International Children’s Film Festival began early in March and wrapped on the 27th with its Awards ceremony, classy post-ceremony reception and traditional goodie-bag giveaway. If the fifteen-years and counting Big Apple fixture needed any more legitimacy, its newly won status as an Oscar-qualifying festival (NYCIFF prize winners now have a shot at the Academy’s golden statue) surely kicked it up a notch.
I’m here for DreamWorks’ press event promoting its 2011 releases Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots. A sequel and a spin-off, hmmm…I walk in, keeping my fingers crossed; the first Panda is one of my favorite animated films of recent years – why mess with perfection? And a skeptic might uncharitably describe Antonio Banderas’ feline swashbuckler as a one-note character: can he carry an entire film on his furry shoulders?
As dependable as the vernal equinox and the return of Daylight Savings Time, the New York International Children’s Film Festival is back in town to help wrap up another winter. As usual, the Fest began with a high profile, mainstream movie for its opening night gala; this year, it was producer Robert Zemeckis’ latest mocap creation, Mars Needs Moms, courtesy of Disney. (A few notches up in the prestige dept. from 2001’s Recess: School’s Out, based on a Disney Saturday morning TV series.)
Does Rango work because of, or in spite of his ocular resemblance to a real-life chameleon? Frankly, I don’t think it matters one way or the other: it’s Johnny Depp’s vocal and his ‘emotion-captured’ physical performances that brings Rango to life.
Once upon a time animation art wasn't worth the celluloid it was painted on. Art that would now be worth tens of thousands of dollars was washed or thrown away – and what was saved often handled thoughtlessly or just forgotten about. Things have changed since then, changed a lot. People now realize that animation art is exactly that - a thing of beauty in its own right, and a cultural heritage to be cherished and preserved. Preservation is where Ron Barbagallo comes into the picture.
Joe Strike sits in on Stephen DeStefano's storyboarding class at MoCCA, part of the museum's ongoing educational program.
I haven’t been this disappointed by a Walt Disney sci-fi movie since The Black Hole. Maybe I walked in with unrealistic expectations of seeing something as groundbreaking, and visually thrilling as the 1982 original. The trailer looked tremendous and the idea of revisiting a ‘visionary’ film (the first Tron does indeed deserve that now-overused adjective) with 21st century effects – and with the same actors playing the same characters they did in the original, only middle-aged – seemed irresistible.
Every now and then Paramount Pictures puts out a nice spread (mini-sandwiches, sliders and open bar, not to mention those killer chocolate chip cookies – there goes my diet) in their overlooking-Times Square 3rd floor screening room. Tonight it’s in honor of Pirates of the Carribean-meister Gore Verbinski, in town to promote his premiering-in-March, Johnny Depp-starring, first animated feature Rango.
Ever wonder how Wile E. Coyote would feel if he ever caught the Road Runner? (Actually, Seth MacFarlane did more than wonder; in his Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy show, with the bird long digested, Wile E. turns to Jesus to fill the void in his heart.) The inept arch-villain Megamind has the same problem; now that he’s finally offed his nemesis, the smug ‘n smarmy superhero Metro Man… what’s left to do? Terrorizing Metro City and kidnapping feisty reporter Roxanne “Roxie” Ritchi doesn’t have the same zing without someone to oppose him. There’s only one option left – and it ain’t looking for Jesus…
Disney’s 1995 backup animated feature A Goofy Movie – and one of its songs in particular – struck a chord with a generation of school kids who are now in college. Fan videos and mash-ups are nothing new, but one student took it a step – or two – further…
On a rainy October Monday we media types, invited by the Disney folks, gathered at a midtown NYC arts center. The lure: a peek at the studio’s two big holiday events: Tron Legacy and Tangled, their CGI-animated de/reconstruction of the Rapunzel story. I’ll go out on a bit of a limb here and call Tangled Disney’s liveliest animated feature in a long time and their best fairy tale updating ever.
When Warner Bros. asked Matt O’Callaghan to return their yin-and-yang, would-be predator and hoped-for prey pair Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, to the big screen – only in CGI-shape and 3D-depth, O’Callaghan took a deep breath and delivered the goods – and fortunately for all involved with the production, without once resorting to Acme technology…