Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dr. Seuss Gets 'Tude. Big Budgets for Small Budget Thinking

Remember how much you loved this as a kid?
Well Hollywood has improved it.

HORTON HEARS A 'HO
I've always wondered why people in charge of animated projects like to take classic properties that completely stood on their own because of their inherent uniqueness and appeal and then change them into the same thing as every other cartoon.

At one time this kind of thinking was relegated to low budget bargain basement Saturday Morning cartoons. It seemed outrageous to anyone with taste or respect for creativity way back in the 70s and 80s, but you could use the excuse that it's low budget and therefore trash by definition, and trash doesn't deserve original or creative ideas.

Now Hollywood will invest huge fortunes on low-budget trashy 80s Saturday Morning type thinking. "Let's take a highly beloved classic character and 'tude him up!"
Cal Arts does Seuss

Kali and I went and saw Beowulf the other day, and besides the obvious outrages of the movie itself the theatre walls were littered with the movie posters of what else was going on in big-budget Hollywood. It was like looking at the Saturday Morning Cartoon lineup from 1985. Almost every poster advertised the types of ideas that 12 year olds come up with in the schoolyard at recess. I see this and wonder why ideas that anyone on earth could come up with deserve such vast amounts of money to produce. Couldn't a computer program generate the stories and concepts a lot cheaper than a bunch of Hollywood execs and writers?

The posters boasted something about people who ride the Coca Cola polar bears in the mountains. Hip Hop Chipmunks (with hairy human noses). Dr. Seuss who were designed somewhat like the originals, but standing around in poses and expressions from modern Cal Arts feature animation. The same expressions that are in every single animated feature made in the last 30 years. If you're gonna take Dr. Seuss characters, why not take the expressions and ideas along with them? That would be so refreshing to see something different. Why turn it into what we already have too much of? And why spend so much money on it?

Bad ideas don't deserve big money. I would think some smart executive somewhere would say we can do bad for a lot cheaper than the rest of Hollywood and therefore make more money back per dollar spent.

I wonder how much is spent on the scripts for ideas that anyone on the planet could come up with.

I really want to know how much they spend on movie poster bylines. "Honey just got funny". I hope they spend a lot on that department. Is there market research to demonstrate that having an awkward pun under the title brings in more profits?
How many car accidents has this billboard byline caused?

A comment worth answering:

Wes: How do you know the style of animation in this movie? Have you seen it? How can you judge a body of work from a poster that was more and likely done by a marketing team instead of the artist at the studio? You know as well as most people that even trailers are usually unfinished shots or shots cut from the movie. I do agree with some of what you say, but as far as people judging something before it's seen is really too bad, you might miss something great. Surf's Up was a great movie and Beautifully animated, but people judged it because of the characters and the movie failed. Don't judge a book by it's cover just because if it's bad you can say you were right....






These animators are obviously very talented, but the whole concept is playing against Dr. Seuss. It's acted and directed like a Pixar film,



rather than tailored to Seuss. I'm sure these artists could do a great movie, with some direction and an idea with more conviction. Technically, it's ready to go.Whoever animated this is pretty damn creative. The last scene in the trailer looks more custom than the first scene of this character. The first one looks Cal Arts. Anyone know why the 2 are different?



Do you like the normal sounding voices?

I think animators really would benefit from strong more distinct voices. When you have normal voices, then the broad animation actions don't seem to fit. To me, anyway. I'd like to see this animator do something to Mel Blanc or someone with real power and conviction in the acting. Good dialogue would help too.

92 comments:

Chris Rank said...

I've seriously wondered all of these things. I've wondered who looks at a property like Cinderella (whether you like it or not is irrelevant) and says, let's make Cinderella III!

not only is it not creative, it's downright bad. Bad ideas, bad everything.

David Gale said...

What's with the weird, lusty look on the elephant's face?

jim said...

I meant what I said and I said what I meant,
An elephant's faithful 100 percent!

The guy who draws the elephant, however...

Paul Stadden said...

Don't forget the other Shrek 3 tagline: Girls Gone Medieval! Yes, let's take a property aimed largely at kids and pop on a reference to one of the seediest and most tasteless pieces of trash to ever hit the adspace, "Girls Gone Wild!"

Adam said...

Totally agree. Everyone in Hollywood is afraid of stepping outside the circle. 'If it looks different, maybe people won't like it!? Maybe we'll just play it safe' After all, we all like to know what we're going to get from a feature...

They really should look at the narrative and why it worked in the first place. Humans have this incredible thing called an imagination. Maybe we should start using it again.

Jud said...
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MikeSnj said...

How about that new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie?

Whit said...

The morons running advertising know that witty double-entendre one-liners were once used on film posters. They just don't know how to come up with them, with or without money. You can't buy taste.

Jud said...
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Wes said...
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Anon said...
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Anon said...
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Chris S. said...

I agree with everything - and don't get me started on the Dr. Suess "re-imaginings" that have defiled everything that was wonderful about the books. I always wonder "didn't these people read and love these books when they were kids? We all did, didn't we? Why are they destroying them?!"

The movie will probably be a big hit, though.

John - I would love it if you would do a post about a cartoon (in this decade) that you enjoy and why ... if there is one, of course. Is there?

Wes said...

How do you know the style of animation in this movie? Have you seen it? How can you judge a body of work from a poster that was more and likely done by a marketing team instead of the artist at the studio? You know as well as most people that even trailers are usually unfinished shots or shots cut from the movie. I do agree with some of what you say, but as far as people judging something before it's seen is really too bad, you might miss something great. Surf's Up was a great movie and Beautifully animated, but people judged it because of the characters and the movie failed. Don't judge a book by it's cover just because if it's bad you can say you were right....

Anon... said...
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Dan C said...

Whenever I see these posters with the puns the same thing usually comes out of my gob in a horrified moan... "imagine the meetings!" because you can guarantee that for every tagline, or every draft of every tagline, every discussion of every pose and expression on every character, there was a meeting around a big table with bottled water and a sweaty writer and pimply execs and forced laughs.
And while we're on the subject - what's with David Cross in the Chipmunks movie? Either he's really cynical or he's really broke - didn't he get any other offers after Arrested Development? That show made me howl with laughter (which isn't easy since the hernia).

Scott said...

I find this a little hypocritical. You had a classic kids cartoon Ren and Stimpy and you decided to "tude it up" for spiketv by making it more adult themed with extreme "gross "out humor". Just like you were trying to reach a newer more modern audience with that venture, this film and films like it are trying the same thing.

JohnK said...

>>I find this a little hypocritical. You had a classic kids cartoon Ren and Stimpy and you decided to "tude it up" for spiketv by making it more adult themed with extreme "gross "out humor".<<

There is no 'tude in the Spike cartoons. Spike told me to make it more extreme because they wanted it to be more "adult" like South Park.

All we did was turn up what the show already was. If I was to do it again, I would go back to the more cartoony simpler version.

We did not change the way we drew to match what the current style was. We kept adding to our range of acting.

That doesn't mean you have to agree with it, but it's a totally different thing than what Hollywood does with properties it never understood in the first place and tries to update.

PCUnfunny said...

Scott: You obviously don't know what Tude means.


As for the subject at hand, I lost my lunch when I saw the trailer for this CGI movie that claims it's "Horton here's a who". Horton is not even Horton here, he is just a bad sterotype of Jim Carey. I can't describe the rest because I can't think of the right words. People trying to act like People I think you could call it with the Whos. That's the way all these characters are now a days. It's like the people who made these cartoosn have no social skills at all and they and they struggle to understand how human interaction works.

Taber said...

Wow, that trailer is totally offensive. It's too bad too because Blue Sky is full of talent and I think they fairly well nailed the models and rendering. Had a lot of potential but "Biggest adventure of all time"? Moronic. Suess was never this grandiose.

What is the obsession with trying to make every piece of entertainment BIGGER THAN THE WHOLE UNIVERSE PLUS TWO!

Larry Levine said...

I'll take Bob Clampett's version of Horton ANYTIME over this CG stuff. His "Horton Hatches the Egg" was alive with personality & heart (thanks to Bob's master directing & his incredible unit of animators).

Bob Clampett knew how to both stay faithful to Dr. Seuss while adding his own signature to the cartoon (eg. Peter Lorre fish).

Jim Rockford said...

OH CRAP!
I swear Hollywood is running on fumes!
They've become so creativly bankrupt that rather than actually think up something original they just look for pre-existing classics to destroy.
Why do they feel the need to "re-interpet" classic works that people have fond memories of for todays degenerate,attitude filled society?
In my opinion its just a cheesy ploy to grab a quick buck without having to be creative.they must figure it already has a built in audience.
Cat in the hat,the grinch,Alvin and the Chipmunks,hell they're even making remakes of horrible crap from the 80's that most of us would like to forget ever existed,like Transformers,whats next a Smurf movie!
What are they going to do when they run out of old ideas to remake?
Will they start making remakes of remakes? (shudder) I wouldnt put it past them.
You would think the people making these disasters would have a sherd of self respect left and see how threadbare the industry has become.
I think things are only going to get worse.

Jim Rockford said...

OH CRAP!
I swear Hollywood is running on fumes!
They've become so creativly bankrupt that rather than actually think up something original they just look for pre-existing classics to destroy.
Why do they feel the need to "re-interpet" classic works that people have fond memories of for todays degenerate,attitude filled society?
In my opinion its just a cheesy ploy to grab a quick buck without having to be creative.they must figure it already has a built in audience.
Cat in the hat,the grinch,Alvin and the Chipmunks,hell they're even making remakes of horrible crap from the 80's like Transformers,whats next a Smurf movie!
What are they going to do when they run out of old ideas to remake? will they start making remakes of remakes? (shudder)
You would think the people making these disasters would see how threadbare the industry has become.

Tedtoons said...

One movie.
Two movie.
Suck movie.
Blew movie!
Ah, not to sound fatalistic, but the idea that a major Hollywood producer would make a Dr. Seuss movie with a genuine Seussian sensiblility is so remote, it's almost* not worth getting agitated about it.

*(almost, but keep fighting the good fight.)

You know that the prevailing trends probably won't change until an independantly-produced, creative-and-original (or faithfully-adapted) cartoon feature breaks out as a sleeper hit. Then they'll copy the bejeezus out of it, of course.

I'm willing to bet that a character will do some Kung Fu moves in this, and someone will say "That's what I'm talkin' about!..." (although, if they slip in a "that's what she said..." joke, I can't say that I blame them. That's always funny.

Jim Rockford said...

"Do you like the normal sounding voices?"

No,thats another obnoxious trend for animated features today.."big stars" have to do all the voices.
I dont know who was the first to start that concept,but I remember Disney was doing that in some of their features in the 70's.
What happened to the concept of voice actors?
Thats another thing I love about your Spumco cartoons.GREAT voice acting!

PCUnfunny said...

"whats next a Smurf movie!"

Weren't they making one ?

Kali Fontecchio said...

There was even a character who had emo hair! Ah!!!!!!!

Blue Sky definitely does have talented people, I know a really talented Otis alumni who is a concept artist there who can outdraw the best of 'em. I hope they'll do something good someday with the talent they've got.

Jack said...

"Let's take a highly beloved classic character and 'tude him up!"

Blah blah blah, you did the exact same thing with Yogi Bear.

Pete Emslie said...

The whole point of Seuss's "Horton Hears a Who" and its companion piece, "Horton Hatches the Egg" was to portray the title character as a large ungainly type, hence an elephant as a metaphor for the human equivalent. Yet despite this immensity and physical awkwardness, Horton is a gentle giant, who is naive and trusting, totally loyal and dedicated to helping out those in peril. In "Horton Hatches the Egg", his good will and dedication is abused and taken advantage of by the one he helps. In "Horton Hears a Who" he remains dedicated to his noble cause despite being personally persecuted by others who fail to understand his efforts and consider him insane.

In both of these stories Seuss has created a heroic everyman character, not unlike the types played by Jimmy Stewart or Gary Cooper in Frank Capra's films, only tailored more for a child to understand. Horton is a gentle soul who has the courage of his convictions to do the right thing, even when society is against him. And yet, in this CG feature film, Horton instead comes off as a rather neurotic and hyper chartacter, not helped by the casting of the equally manic Jim Carrey. Clearly the Hollywood execs today just don't get it. I think Horton fared very well in the traditionally animated versions many years ago helmed by Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones, both of whom clearly understood his Capra-esque humanity. It's very sad that today's studio execs feel that everything has to be edgy and cynical in order to capture the imagination of filmgoers. They've completely missed the boat on this one.

Jim Rockford said...

"Weren't they making one ?"

I wouldnt be a bit suprised,I know they're making a Smokey and the Bandit remake,as well as a Knight Rider movie.
What a joke,Smokey and the Bandit without Jackie Gleason and Burt Reynolds?!

Adam said...

I'm sorry, but I totaslly reserve my right to pass judgement on aesthetics before the film is released for the following simple reasons:

1) Big budget do not change style halfway through a film! If you are telling me that I may be in for a surprise VISUALLY when I go and see this, I think you're dreaming.

2) Don't forget who holds the money with these films. They will always go safe in visual aspect. No studio wants to be seen alienating itself from the current box office trend of shiny, lush 3D pictures.

On a finishing note, the style of these 3D flix is great...within reason. The debate here was that the original material has been dealt a grave injustice by its Hollywood developers. The animation screengrabs do look nice, but the style and aesthetic could have been so much more. This could have been something different rather than another movie that'll end up in the bargain barrel.

Jim Rockford said...

I dont recall any modern "tude" in the Spumco Yogi's.they didnt slap a generic bad ass attitude on any of the characters or insert modern pop culture references.
The personalitys were pretty much exaggerated versions of the originals,with the humor coming from "human" psyhcologically intense reacting to the absurditys of their cartoon world!

mike f. said...

Yeah, I agree – I thought the trailer for this film was appallingly ugly. If it's any indication of the creative thought that went into the design or the character animation of the rest of the film, then look forward to another abomination like THE CAT IN THE HAT and THE GRINCH all over again.

It doesn't have to be this way, of course. Bob Clampett's directed a more appealing, more expressive version of this same character with HORTON HATCHES THE EGG in 1942. That was 65 YEARS ago, for Christ's sake! And that cartoon was produced at a mere fraction of the coffee-and-danish budget for this beached whale of a movie.

Creativity and talent is not automatically transferred by osmosis to the children and widowed spouses of creative cartoonists.
Like Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. and Mrs. Jay Ward - Theodore Geisel's widow should be stopped from green-lighting any more franchise McMovies that purport to re-imagine her husband’s characters.

How many times can she allow corporate thugs to rape Dr. Seuss, anyway? She ought to be gored to death by Thidwick.

Jim Rockford said...

"Blah blah blah, you did the exact same thing with Yogi Bear"

Watch them again,the humor came not from slapped on "'tude",but rather from the intense acting.
Boo Boo acting like a real bear in contrast to his cartoon setting,and Yogi's reaction to it.
Yogi's Human reaction to catching Boo Boo and Cindy alone together!
"HOMEWRECKER!!"
And that cartoon was very skillfully rendered by someone who understood the personalitys of the original.

PCUnfunny said...

"I know they're making a Smokey and the Bandit remake"

Oh GAAAAAAAAAUD ! I really think I am going to cry.


"Blah blah blah, you did the exact same thing with Yogi Bear."

Again,ignorance of what 'Tude is. John made a great definition of what 'Tude is an older post.

mike f. said...

["Let's take a highly beloved classic character and 'tude him up!"
Blah blah blah, you did the exact same thing with Yogi Bear.]

Maybe you should go back and read John's post about Caricaturing Cartoons again, Jack. You seem to have missed the point.

PCUnfunny said...

Oh and Pete Emslie, wonderful summary about the Seuss books !

Dave said...

Your comments are very succint to what is going on with animation these days. Everyone's trying to make pixar movies.

What, however, are the obvious outrages of Beowulf?
Just curious...

The Flea said...

Blue Sky visited our school about two months ago. Some of the concept art was shown to us and though beautifully crafted, I asked myself "Why couldn't they have utilized THESE drawings for a traditionally animated film?" I felt as though the feeling was automatically captured (through drawings/paintings) and the whole process of modeling the landscapes seemed unnecessary. Dr. Seusses' drawings had a nice simplicity and a unique line quality -- that's what made Dr. Seuss . . well. .. DR.SEUSS! By eliminating that seemingly effortless but gorgeous structure and line, it defeats the entire purpose of trying to copy his style. It perhaps emulates the style to some degree, but it just isn't pure anymore. . . there's just too much to look at! When I was growing up, it was the gentle variation of colors and sketchiness that caught my attention. I'll ALWAYS remember that.

The movie doesn't look too bad at all (I'll give it a fair chance), but I'll put it in the same category as every other 3D animated movie created to date.


Besides, the entire story could easily be told in about a half hour or less. Chuck Jones did a great job!

John A said...

It's really hard to fault the animators on this travesty. They're just doing what they're told. The producers didn't want Horton, they wanted an animated Jim Carey.(and not the Truman Jim Carey, but the Ace Ventura Jim Carey) The whole tone of the film has been determined without them. The artists look like they actually did an excellent job of translating the look of a Dr. Suess drawing into 3-D, but then you have the writers and performers taking a big crap on all your hard work and calling it "creative input". Jones took his share of liberties in order to flesh the story out to about 25 minutes, but he didn't reinterpret the main character in the process.

Scott said...

After thinking about it you are correct, the new Ren and Stimpys were more extreme and not more tude, but both phrases belong on energy drinks instead of in cartoons. It still changed something I had a pleasant image growing up with into something I disliked. But Im sure some people liked it so its great that you took the risk to make it more extreme.
You also say "it's a totally different thing than what Hollywood does with properties it never understood " but it is the same thing since you said "Spike told me to make it more extreme because they wanted it to be more "adult" like South Park." It sounds like they didnt understand your show that well either.
You had a choice to do it and you did it because theres potential success there and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesnt and personally Id rather see the industry make 12 films and like 1 of them rather than making 0 films because of fear they couldnt do the original justice. panning a movie based on an early trailer as another poster said isnt giving the film a chance.

Wes said...

I respect your opinion especially your thoughts about Hollywood executives (Very True). I think my main point is about how we as artist judge story, animation, and direction of the movie based on posters and shots taken out of context and slapped together in a trailer (Yet again done by a marketing team not the artist). Now the job of the trailers and such are to get people into the theaters, and the marketing team would know how to that much better than us artist I would hope. But getting "Wall-Mart America" into Theaters is a whole different topic.
Now about your views on the animation in the trailer, and the Cal Arts look. I'm assuming by Cal Arts you are saying formulaic, much like student work. Now I tend to disagree with the view that Pixar style acting or Cal Arts formulaic is a bad thing. I absolutely agree that it is a breath of fresh air to see such a creatively animated shot in CG, and if there is one in the trailer I am positive there are more in the movie. And it's very important to have these "Cal Arts" shots in the film to create Contrast, and we all know if everything is "Special" that would mean nothing is, therefor no appeal.
I would absolutely love to hear what you think of the movie as a whole, animation wise, story wise, etc... I for one am looking forward see it, at least for the animation, I have no idea if it will be good or bad, but as an artist, I am looking forward to it's release.

Scott said...

Thank you for responding Johnm after thinking about it you are correct, the new Ren and Stimpys were more extreme and not more tude, but both phrases belong on energy drinks instead of in cartoons. It still changed something I had a pleasant image growing up with into something I disliked. But Im sure some people liked it so its great that you took the risk to make it more extreme.
You also say "it's a totally different thing than what Hollywood does with properties it never understood " but it is the same thing since you said "Spike told me to make it more extreme because they wanted it to be more "adult" like South Park." It sounds like they didnt understand your show that well either.
You had a choice to do it and you did it because theres potential success there and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesnt and personally Id rather see the industry make 12 films and like 1 of them rather than making 0 films because of fear they couldnt do the original justice. panning a movie based on an early trailer as another poster said isnt giving the film a chance.

The Flea said...

As for voice acting, I have often found that the characters take on the actor's personalities. I love Jim Carrey a lot, but Horton is a timid character. Horton isn't particularly charismatic and as relaxed as the trailer portrays. It's more like Horton as Jim Carrey and not the other way around. I rather enjoyed the goofy voice of Kent Rogers in the Bob Clampett "Horton hatches an Egg" short. It was a FUN and memorable voice! I haven't seen the short in years and the voice still rings as clear as a bell!

Dan! said...

jack: "Blah blah blah, you did the exact same thing with Yogi Bear."
>John caricatured the characters from Yogi bear, he didn't "tude them up." He didn't try to modernize them and turn them into characters they're not, he simply exaggerated them. That's different than what Hollywood is doing.

Hollywood is ruining so many great classics. I don't understand the need to convert them into "hip" cartoons with "'tude."

Kyle said...

I agree overall about how this movie is being handled, but I also loved the animation shot near the end. the dialog, while not really funny, the expressions alone had me rolling. the mouth forms they used were just hilarious to me.

but yeah, this movie as a whole doesn't look like it'll resemble the book much at all which is a shame.

Annette said...

I hate Horton's new expression. He looks smarmy. Does everything have to be smartassinine

Bitter Animator said...

Bizarre how many of those shots have the exact same eyebrows. Like, absolutely exactly the same.

But, man, is this a losing battle? Check out the cack that has people excited at AICN - http://www.aintitcool.com/node/34912

And to think you waste your time with line quality.

Wes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emmett said...

Does this really count as a Hollywood feature?

Blue Sky is here in New York. It's one of the places that gives New York some hope in animation today. However, is saying that, I can't say I like what comes out of Blue Sky.

Jamie said...

I think you need to hold a tude off contest. whoever can make the tudiest of tude drawings wins!!!! tude it up...

Chris S. said...

To be fair to Wes, in my previous comment I was referring to the "live action" versions of Suess and my violent anger is directed toward those, really. I thought they were disrespectful to his memory and my expectations aren't so high for Seuss-films because of them. I think the Blue Sky stuff looks beautiful - I've followed their work since "Bunny."

I understand John's obsession with the changeless/copycat state of animation today. You have to admit ... most of the major films seem as though they're coming out of the same machine.

Ted said...

"Why do they feel the need to "re-interpet" classic works that people have fond memories of for todays degenerate,attitude filled society?"

I wonder if there were similar issues raised for Disney's classic works. Snow White, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty... all pre-existing stories. The issue there is a bit opposite tho, depending on the story version you're looking at; the Disney films by and large removed most of the violence (and sex), but there's plenty more re-interpretation in the movies than simply removing the fangs.

PCUnfunny said...

"Does this really count as a Hollywood feature?"

Well it's being distributed by a hollywood studio and they comissioned the film.

Beaver said...

In a perfect world....

There are a lot of jobs out there that people seem to think depend on blandness. Any innovation or conviction to classic cartoon goodness is going to have to come from smaller places. I've given up on expecting anything unique/original or faithful to the original from Studios.

I respect all the artists who work on these shows but really hope things change.

Talking animals are fine, that's not my gripe...its the same plots over and over and the wacky movie trailer music that was a #1 song 9 years ago....and the modernizing...I don't need myspace jokes or cell phone humor in my remakes...

Sony has a shot on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Everything I have seen I have liked a lot....but its early...

Larry Levine said...

"Theodore Geisel's widow should be stopped from green-lighting any more franchise McMovies that purport to re-imagine her husband’s characters.How many times can she allow corporate thugs to rape Dr. Seuss, anyway?"

Don't forget she also gave the green-light to the Broadway production of "Seussical-The Musical"

Peter Lorre Fish: Well, now I've seen everything!

Roberto said...

I saw the trailer for this movie a couple of months back (I'm surprised that you brought this up now). It starts out pretty well with the nice CG, but then, right when Horton spoke, that just ruined it for me. I hate how they changed the timid, kind Horton into some arrogant Jim Carrey esque character (I guess they were carricaturing him then, since he voiced Horton).

I'd take Chuck Jones's "Grinch Who Stole Christmas," or even better, Bob Clampett's Horton over this anyday.

Whoever animated this is pretty damn creative. The last scene in the trailer looks more custom than the first scene of this character. The first one looks Cal Arts. Anyone know why the 2 are different?
Fred Osmond, on his blog, said that he working on this, so it's possible that he could have had something to do with this, yet I don't know much else about who animated on it.

Kristin said...

Oh my gosh! I can't believe they're redoing HHAW! Hollywood is officially creativity dumb.

And you saw Beowolf?! how could you? I thought you were against all CGI!

Shawn said...

WHAT????????
AAAARRRGGHHHHH!!!!!!

Why does EVERY friggin' cartoon from now till the end of time ALWAYS have to be CG now??? There are SOME people on this planet who still like to see animated DRAWINGS! I'm sick and tired of this shit.

Brent Bouchard said...

...more like horton hears a poo...

(rimshot)

Wray said...

With all this bashing on 3d animation AND elephants... I've always been curious what you thought of Elephants Dream. http://orange.blender.org/download

Weirdo said...

Quick, somebody resurrect Boris Karloff and put him in this movie.

ataricat said...

Every time I see mention of this movie I remember reading something Chuck Jones wrote about how hard it was to take How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, which was only about 12 minutes worth of content, and stretch it into 22 minutes without ruining the tone of the original.

I doubt the original Horton Hears a Who has much more content than the Grinch, but it's being stretched into about 90 minutes for this movie. It's pretty obvious from the trailer that the feel of the story is quite different

I understand trying to capitalize on story that people already know and like, but if you have to throw out Dr. Suess' short & sweet writing style in order to inflate a 15 minute story to fit an hour & a half, what's the point?

Nico said...

Wow, okay I was about a day away from making a post on my cartoon blog about the recent animated feature 'TUDE posters, and what sparked me to want to do that was the Horton poster hanging at MY local theatre. That is LOADED with 'TUDE!!

Why?? Horton is a character with a big heart, but he's a big goofy lummox elephant. He's not hip.

In 10 or 15 years are they going to make a CGI Peanuts movie poster featuring Charlie Brown with one eyebrow raised up and a very confident smirk on his face? Would they really take the biggest loser in the world of comic strips and 'TUDE him up?

answer: probably.

Josh "Just What the Doctor Ordered" Heisie said...

Regardless of how crappy it is (and my first impression of this is that it's pretty crappy) I just don't understand the idea behind turning a poem into a full length feature.

Only half the appeal of Dr. Seuss is the artwork (and it's great)...the other half is how the story is told. The story itself isn't particularily awesome, but Dr. Seuss's word magic makes it fun and completely entertaining.

Adding enough to the plot to make it a feature length storyline, and taking away the unique part of the story telling is just dumb. If you're going to do it, do it like the Grinch cartoon, short and faithful to the story, with nothing added except a few charming songs (written by the original author!).

Don't add in love interests, new characters and plot elements that didnt even exist in the original book!

smackmonkey said...

from wes: How can you judge a body of work from a poster that was more and likely done by a marketing team instead of the artist at the studio?

Time was when studios were run by artists and everything that left the door was given the stamp of approval by someone competent. I'm not cutting anyone any slack because the decisions lie in the hands of the suits these days. If they're gonna play artist I'll judge them like one. Uh, you suck!

from kyle: the mouth forms they used were just hilarious to me.

Certainly better than a lot of what we've seen in recent years. To me they lack the key element of appeal. Ugly can be appealing. Not so in these screen grabs.

from mike f: How many times can she allow corporate thugs to rape Dr. Seuss, anyway?

As many times as the uneducated masses are willing to shell out the bucks to watch. After years of conditioning to accept an ever lowering standard, the average movie goer needs an education like the one we get here or else real artistry will continue to be marginalized.

John - Please stop showing us pictures of Shrek the Turd.

Jason Campbell said...

lorI was watching the Chuck Jones "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" tonight and I was thinking about your writing on properties like these and your earlier post about color theory and background paintings and I was curious what you thought of this particular production, given that Dr. Seuss was involved with that one or at least credited as so.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Fascinating! It would have played much better in 2D, and I hate to see the 'tude, but it looks it comes closer to funny 3D than anything I've seen so far.

Conceit Arturo said...

JhonK! there is still hope for big studio 3D movies.

There is a gamemaking studio, called oddworld that has produced designs as original as this http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Lair/4544/oddworld/scrab.jpg and this http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Lair/4544/oddworld/paramite.html

They're pushing a full feature CG movie with political meaning behind it, and they've done quite a good job with 3d animation before
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzVbG03maDQ
They might not be your cup of tea, but atleast it's a step up, they're atleast they're creative, unqiue and threating real issues instead of reharshing great ideas with crappy new standards.

Operation GutterBall said...

They gave Horton Tude on the poster!!

Rodrigo said...

Ack. I'm glad you felt the same way I did with the preview. It just felt a bit awkward and a bit contrived. The exchanged between the 2 Who's was the typical juxtaposition of weird guy and normal person, and we're all supposed to laugh at the weirdo--but with a very live action tone. Why bother animating it? Just film Steve Carrell and call it "the Office".

I just read the intro to Robert McKee's "Story." and he and you both touch on the same problem of cliche. He emphasizes the importance of knowing principles, but also points out that this isn't enough. Case in point: Cal Arts.

In the realm of cartooning, it seems to me though, that if you want to be original and unique you shouldn't try to be. If you are trying to be funny or different, you aren't being yourself. If you just are, and people find you funny, that's it. If yourself isn't funny to begin with, I guess you're fucked. Audiences love fresh perspectives. Dr. Seuss had that and didn't adhere to stock story or drawings.

So basically, what I'm saying is that the worst thing you can do if you're an avid reader of this blog, is to imitate the author's style. Most folks are bland, and have to resort to this, but if you're genuinely an individual, draw how you will while adhering to correct principles.

Kali's Bug Bunny wouldn't match McKimson's Bugs Bunny if you overlayed it. She adhered to the drawings principles correctly, however her individuality still showed through.

Anyway, excuse my long rant, but I feel like I've had an epiphany. Hollywood fucking sucks. Horton Hears a Who looks unpromising, and I'm going to start doing my own cartoons.

Brian said...

Did anybody watch thaty lame Shrek Christmas special? The ads said it was an "instant classic". It was an instant vomit-inducing pile of putrid pooooop.

I hate almost all of this 3D stuff. The only thing it really works with are robots/cyborgs, zombies, rubbery special effects...and that kind of stuff. It doesn't make for very good cartoon characters. It doesn't make real looking people...the eyes and skin look zombie-like.

TP said...

I've got to disagree with you on this one John. I think this is one artist's interpretation of how Dr. Seuss characters could move.
It doesn't have to look like Dr. Seuss himself made it, it's cool that someone put their own spin on it. And the motion is WAY more exaggerated than a Pixar film.
I do agree that Horton himself is too snappy, but the snappiness for the Who people works.
As for Jim Carrey and Steve Carrell, I think they both have a lot of personality in their acting.
To say that Steve Carrell has a normal and undistinct voice is completely ridiculous. Carrell's character has a cool rhythm to his voice. I would love to animate to that timing.

Beaver said...

I knew this would devolve into 3d bashing :)

Did anyone ever read the animation script/pitch book. Not the Gardners one....this one was done by someone who wrote for the Ninja Turtles TV Cartoon.

He included is pitch packet for "WACKY WILLY" which I would say was the most awesome example of TUDE in the whole F'ing world. It's worth buying just to read the packet.

I'm paraphrasing

"Wacky Willy is the MOST EXTREME. He likes kicking back and FEELING THE RUSH with his RADICAL friends....TO THE EXTREME!"

gouuuuhooo!

Mr. Semaj said...

At least with this project, they're using full animation, instead of dressing the real world up in crazy Seussian wardrobes and motifs.
Still, could the casting have been more mismatched? Who's idea was it to have Horton be voiced by Jim Carrey?

PCUnfunny said...

I'll break down and say I do like the character designs but still, the characterizations are nothing close to the wit and charm of Seuss.

Kali Fontecchio said...

77. "Kali's Bug Bunny wouldn't match McKimson's Bugs Bunny if you overlayed it. She adhered to the drawings principles correctly, however her individuality still showed through."

Mine conveys Bugs Bunny afflicted with constipation.

The characters are fine, in fact they're way better than the other 3d crap out there, just no tude. This really should have been a simple point, haha.

slowtiger said...

The more CG films are out there, the more I feel they should be treated as puppetry, not as animation. And puppetry completely relies on performance of the puppeteers, and the voices. If The Muppets can support a whole feature film, it must be possible for CG characters as well.

Also I think there's nothing wrong with Jim Carey's voice, I only find it hard to imagine a character for it. An elephant is so obviously the wrong choice.

foist lastus said...

Dr. Suess's original work drop-clicks the tude-clones everytime.

The preview of Horton whores a who plays like sitcoms with laugh tracks, predictably pompous and boring.

After studying this blog for awhile I realize thinking new ideas... the magic of cartoons is the unpredictable and the miraculous!

Brian said...

The characters are fine, in fact they're way better than the other 3d crap out there...


That's like saying ebony is a better color than black.

Leigh Fieldhouse said...

The reason it's directed and acted like a Pixar film could be because the Director is an ex-Pixar animator.
But I don't think that's the problem, it's more to do with students just copying what they have seen before, taking stock disney poses instead of observing from life. So everything looks and feels the same.

The poses and facial expressions at the end are pretty cool though, I really like that "urrgh, pffft" bit.

I'm not sure who's idea it was to cast Carrey as the voice but they made a big mistake.

Michael said...

There is currently a German CG Movie in the Cinemas: "Lissi und der wilde Kaiser", it is a parody on 50ies movies about princess Sissy of Austria.
The famous german comedian and producer Herbig did some motion capturing for the face of Lissi, so she looks a bit like him now.
Poster & Trailers:
http://www.moviemaze.de/media/trailer/2936,lissi-und-der-wilde-kaiser.html

It didn't have much budget and Mr Herbig said they "couldn't animate every single Hair like in Big Budget US Productions". ;)

Vincent Waller said...

Hey John, Take heart. You not getting responses to a post means you've given so much information that it takes a while to digest.

Timefishblue said...

I don't think the number of comments has anything to do with the quality of the post, or how much we're learning from it. Posts that are purely informative or that most people will agree with right away will get less comments. Posts that are controversial and have lots of opinion in them will get more comments.

I've read and loved everything and tried to take in as much as I can, but this is the first time I've commented. By the way, thanks so much for this blog, John! It's truly a public service!

Sean Worsham said...

I could tolerate the Disney style acting. I am definitely going to be seeing this. An old classmate of mine or two worked on this so I wanna see the wonderful magic they work. Congrats Johny, Oliver etc.

Sean Worsham said...

Ooh I forgot you too Toni (If you're reading this). You all did a good job judging from the previews :)

J Marc said...

Hi John, this is related to your mention of Beowulf in this post, rather than tude, but it also harks back to some of your previous criticisms of 'story' and such, and also the way Hollywood messes with original works.

Blake Gopnik wrote of Beowulf in the Washington Post that one of the film's weaknesses was deviating from the original by explaining everything neatly: "The bards who composed Beowulf had no place for our cliches of "narrative arc" and "psychological motivation" and the poem is all the better for that lack." This sounds very similar to some of the things you've been saying on this blog.

Beaver said...

@ J Marc:
I liked the change.
I think the original Beowulf was more like a list of events than anything else. Sticking with the original would be like making a crime movie based on police reports.

"Officer Brown arrived to find undercover officer William Cositigan had taken Detective Colin Sullivan Hostage. Costigan took SUllivan to the ground floor via elevator. Officers Brown and Costigan were shot in the head. Sullivan shot the assailant. Later Sullivan was found murdered in his apartment.

I think more of what John is talking about in this post is taking things that have a concrete visual look and feel in film/TV history and tuding/changing them up for the worse. No one is going to watch a bible movie and be upset it doesn't uphold Paul's original vision and style but if someone takes Porky Pig, drops his stutter, and makes him a wacky extreme surfer people may blow shit up. I would cry personally. It all reminds me of the Poochie character on the Simpsons.

Jeff Read said...

They deserve big money because they make big money. It really is that simple. Whether we animation nerds hate them or not, somewhere there are millions of people willing to part with hard-earned dinero to see Cinderella III or Shark Tale (or at least pay for their kids to see it).

I was watching some news pieces about Isaac Larian, known as the mastermind behind the disgusting "Bratz" media franchise. When the doll designs first came back he thought they looked horrible and "like aliens" but his daughter (then 11 years old) went nuts over them. He wasn't about to insist on his particular aesthetic tastes, not when he was sitting on a gold mine.

And that's the difference between art and business. Studios will back crummy animation, and animators will draw it, because the market will more than support it. They're following the money back to the pocketbooks of moms and dads with kids who go "I WANT BRATZ! I WANT TRANSFORMERS! I WANT MORE CINDERELLA!" Another generic cartoon with 'tude means that many more animators get to eat. Making more-than-a-living-wage for drawing or messing with Maya all day ain't a bad gig, and in today's economy being a supercilious aesthete is a luxury.

I think it's perhaps best to regard the Warner studios of the 1930s and 1940s as a business anomaly, like the Xerox PARC of the 1970s. If I recall correctly the Warners hated their animation department, and had decided that all their money was to be made in live-action cinema, which had the odd effect of letting their animators take risks and gambles that modern studios who produce animation as a business venture cannot.

Sara said...

You know, I could have put up with this movie's existence if it had been ANYONE but Jim Carrey. I could have over-looked everything you pointed out just because that story and those characters are so dear to me (even thought they'll probably change everything to make it a full length feature).

But they did cast that sleazy bastard, and that is unforgivable. You'd think they'd learn after his performance in "THE GRINCH."

Sure, Blue Sky is talente. But I'd just leave the theater in a pissy mood if I went to see this terrible thing just for a little bit of good animation. Kind of defeats the point of paying ten bucks to enjoy myself...

The Horns and the Hawk said...

i wanna hop on the bandwagon too.

remember the old suess toons from the 70s? my god those things rocked some balls. found a dvd with all of them at wal mart for like 5 bucks. snatch.

Chickens and Beandip said...

I sat in on a directors panel for this movie. The directors insisted on getting the Suess foundations approval on everything. And apparently they really like this movie. That is Seuss's family. Not just lawyers. The were in constant comunication with the Seuss's so if the movie sucks blame them. They gave it the thumbs up before and after.

And there are alot of relavent arguments of hyprocrisy. Yogi bear and mighty mouse were butchered from their former image. So was Ren and Stimpy. They were "reinvisioned," but isn't this post against everything of that. Why change it right. If the original was good.