Monday, September 21, 2009

Review Of Meatballs


I went to see this movie as a fluke. Kali and I were bored yesterday afternoon, and I said "Is there a movie out that won't make us sick?" We remembered seeing ads for the Meatball movie and I thought, "well the characters look awful bland, but at least they aren't outright nasty" so we went to see it. Now I wish we had seen it in 3d.

Whoever chose the promotional stills can't be very bright, because he chose the most sedentary looking stuff imaginable. There actually is some stuff in it that is pretty interesting to look at, but let's start with how you would usually review a movie:

Characters: The first thing that attracts me to a cartoon is the characters.

That means 2 basic elements:

1) The characters' specific designs.
2) The characters' unique personalities.


This movie has neither. The character designs are stolen from Davy and Goliath - which is as bland as Christian animation can be. The personalities are non-existent. They have the same exact characteristics as every modern animated feature.
The boy is a wimp who has no self esteem.
The girl is mildly sassy but has no individual quirks.

If the characters are bland, why are they good? They aren't, but merely bland is better than completely repulsive:I'm so used to seeing animated characters who look about as appealing as your dad naked, that to see characters who are merely inoffensive is a positive change for the better.

This character is a little too stylized to be believable, but at least it's an attempt to be a design at all.The black characters are stock Cal Arts "Bebe's Kids" that are in a million movies.
The monkey is in every Cartoon Network cartoon, but he looks good in 3d.

The voices as usual are completely uninteresting:Who are these people and why are they in the publicity photos? I've never understood the feature animation theory of using live action actors who have no distinguishable voices to do the acting. What kid cares? Seems like a complete waste of money to me.



Story:

The story doesn't work on any level, even according to its own rules. There is about 10 minutes worth of plot, dragged out to a feature length. It's not funny or anything. Well maybe once or twice.

I won't give away the resolution. I couldn't anyway, because there isn't one. The kid does something he thinks is good, everyone thinks it's good for awhile, then it turns bad, then by vague unexplained magic the bad is stopped, leaving a ton of damage - and then everyone forgives him, even though he's ruined his whole town.

No animated features have stories that work, so this is not a fault by comparison with the norm.

Lessons that no one wants in movies:

We learn the same lessons that we learn in every animated movie
It's OK to be yourself - especially if you are bland and wimpy.
We learn that Dads love their kids but have trouble saying it.
We learn that cute girls like wimpy guys.

We shouldn't force kids to learn lessons in cartoons, especially the same ones over and over again that we don't ourselves believe.

So what's good about it? Unfortunately, nothing that is reflected in the stills.
This guy, when he gets really fat is very cartoony and fun to look at. I wish I could show you.

THE WAY IT MOVES:

The characters move about 50% Cal Arts formula, and then 50% cartoony.

There are some funny walks and runs. If only they would turn off the motion blur we could appreciate them better. The characters make expressions that the artists just made up for certain scenes. Yeah, you see a lot of stock Pixar faces and actions, but there are just as many original ones.

Posing:
The poses are refreshingly clear and cartoony and original. Clean silhouettes and lines of action just like in old cartoons.

Not Ashamed Of Being Animated
It looks like a big step towards not being ashamed of being a cartoon. Even though the story and characterizations are stock, the animators went ahead and had fun anyway and they were lucky enough to not have someone stop them each time.

That, in my long experience is a miracle in itself.

The artists are allowed to make fun of the formula
Even when there are the typical stock contrived pathos scenes, the animators or storyboard artists try to keep something funny looking or interesting happening at the same time to take the edge off the insincerity.

The girl moves in uniquely girl ways:
She may be a generic design - right out of The Incredibles and every second Nickelodeon or Nelvana cartoon, but she actually moves very well. It's hard to pose girls naturally, but the animators do an excellent job of it. She makes a lot of unique expressions too - although not in this or any of the stills. In fact, she hardly ever has completely symmetrical expressions like these.
Hands

The hands are very interesting in the cartoon. They are designed well for CG and they move in very interesting ways.


Budget:

Well the budget has to be astronomical, because it's non stop crowd scenes and there are tons of environments. I would rather see less clutter and a better use of composition and individual characters. Money doesn't equal quality, and the movie had lots of obviously talented people working on it that could have spent more time on less noise.

Interesting backgrounds and props:

Unfortunately, I couldn't find the best ones in the stills.

The kid's lab is much more interesting than this still shows below, so I'm not sure why it isn't being featured in the promotion.

This gives a better hint of it:
The best part is the visual cartoony effects:

There are lots of surreal scenes of strange things going on that I can't find a single image of. They mostly happen at the climax that doesn't make any sense but has lots of fun looking things going on. There are weird slimy blobs coming out of who knows what and the textures and lighting are the most creative I have seen in a CG movie yet. Usually the BGs are realistic, which has never made any sense to me.Like, why is this in an animated movie?


My Rating:

I would give this an even zero - which is leagues ahead of any other animated feature today. Most cartoon features are thousands of points in the negative.

It's not like the old days, where cartoons were expected to be entertaining. In the 1940s you might rate cartoons between 50% and 100%, because they had higher entertainment standards to begin with. Even a Terrytoons has some entertainment value - because it's not purposely trying not to, unlike modern animation.

I had a tough time sitting in my seat through Meatballs, because what was happening and who it was happening to was not remotely interesting. It's hard to pace a story around characters with no personality.


But as a cartoonist and designer, there was enough visual interest and unique action throughout the movie that intellectually I found things to stimulate me.


It was an optimistic portent of what could be. It's basically an undirected film - but one that allowed many of the artists to take nothing scenes and add some kind of cleverness, design and action to the formulaic events being told by the story.


This in itself is so far ahead of an overdirected film (overdirected by executives typically, not by directors that actually have a point of view or style) that stops creativity from happening every step of the way, just so that more stock plot points, filler and bad puns can happen.



If I was a kid, I would love the movie, because it at least gives kids some of what they like - weirdness, action, impossible stuff and some zaniness.


Oh, and it's the first CG film where the CG is better than than the accompanying 2d short.

I have to repeat what I said about the stills: None of them show any of the unique and appealing attributes of the film. It's almost as if someone at Sony knows that the film is unique and is trying to hide it from the masses.

128 comments:

Zoran Taylor said...

I actually thought the square-headed dude was pretty cool, but then again I saw that on the big screen where you could make out the full design of the face quite well. Here it just looks cluttered.

Jorge Garrido said...

John, don't you think Brad Bird is one animation director who OVERdirects his films? (Live-action style)

I mean, you saw that King Of The Hill-Simpsons storyboard bible he made, right?

John, normally I agree with you about celebrity voices, but that one guy on the right of that picture is Bill Hader, who's a stand-up comedian, impressionist, and improv comedian who does incredible voices and is one of the rare modern comedians who does old style super charismatic voices, like Al Pacino, Vincent Price, etc...

thomas said...

Thanks for the review. I like your grading scale. Zero is just breaking even. Its like a Celsius scale for movie reviews.

just a question - is there such a thing as smears in CG animation?

Mr. Semaj said...

I have to repeat what I said about the stills: None of them show any of the unique and appealing attributes of the film. It's almost as if someone knows that the film is unique and is trying to hide it from the masses.

Or maybe they didn't want to give away the best stuff, like most trailers/promos tend to do.

thomas said...

I think one of the keys to lack of appeal in CG designed characters, is the design of the eyes. They seem to purposefully mimic moveable plastic doll eyes and sockets. They always have a machined looking rim around the eyes.

Maybe the do it in anticipation of marketing doll versions of the characters they create....

Geneva said...

You should review more movies! It helps me feel more sane for noticing when stuff sucks. It's amazing how little you can complain about contemporary animation with fussy, hyperdefensive college students.

I might go see this on Wednesday (cheap theater, $2.50 seats) so that I can see the good stuff you're talking about!

El Gran Don Cocor said...

Hey Hey,

I've been reading your blog for a while now and I enjoy your cartoons a lot BUT man you should give the word "bland" a rest.

Anyways, thanks for all the cool lessons.

darioid said...

je, i dont understand

JohnK said...

We live in a bland world. There's no other word for it.

HemlockMan said...

Hm. Not much in the way of a recommendation, I must say.

joAco said...

I've been reading your blog with devotion, because I understand barely nothing of the animation world you explain so devotely.

But, whenever you talk about CG, I can't stop thinking that you're missing a big point.
CG is NOT a 2D animation. And you cannot ask it to behave like one. It's still a developing language, and I think that in years it's been arround it have maked great improvements. It's trying to find its way inbetween 2D and live action.
In that matter, I think pixar is acomplishing a great success in that kind of backgrounds you hate (in fact, the porky opening you posted lately was animated photographs!)
I'd love the texture in UP when I watched it in 3D. The kind of framing (i am a DoP) made me feel really jealous. I think they are going somewhere with they aproach to CG, and I love their movies.

I would love to watch some excercise you made in CG, because I think the only way I can start to emphatize with the way you feel about CG is to view you approach to it.

And excuse the horible english. I'm sur I'm not as dumb as i seem with this grammatically poor text.

Ted said...

I thought Meatballs was a movie with the voice of Crag as the camp director...

Chris Cookson said...

wait, I thought you said you liked this movie...you sly fox you

Meenx said...

Toy Story 1 was the only good CG animated movie.

Matt Shepherd said...

So what are some examples of good animated features? I haven't seen this film but I heard it was fun to work on.

Guy said...

I don't I'll ever get over how ugly Shrek is. Good thing I find it hilarious.

Anyway, that was great, John. You should do things like this more regularly.

I've been reading your blog for a while now and I enjoy your cartoons a lot BUT man you should give the word "bland" a rest.

Let's let the animation studios go first.

A.M.Bush said...

I would give this an even zero - which is leagues ahead of any other animated feature today. Most cartoon features are thousands of points in the negative.


hahahaha

Rick Roberts said...

"Or maybe they didn't want to give away the best stuff, like most trailers/promos tend to do."

Trailer's aren't suppose to "give away" anything away but they are suppose to attract you to said film. Trailers today, live action or animated, are clunky and imcompitently made. All of them destroy any attraction to the feature.

Rick Roberts said...

Jorge: You think Al Pachino has a charasmatic voice ? I enjoy Pachino but that's the last thing I'd ever say about him.

Coffee is a Girl's Best Friend said...

I agree, please review more movies. I love reading bad movie reviews. And it is so refreshing to find another cartoonist who refuses to part their legs for Pixar. Although I think you may have been a little harsh on Meatballs. My biggest gripe with it was the generic designs, not so much the personalities. However, I was so excited that I was seeing a CG movie that didn't bug the crap outta me that for the most part I completely forgot to be critical.

Zoran Taylor said...

Jorge - Bill Hader is brilliant, but I don't doubt for a second, having not even seen the film, that not an ounce of his actual creativity is in evidence. Not only do modern animated features have actors with nothing voices, they even sometimes take actors with great voices and make them less interesting, less appealing and less fun. How can you be funny when you've been given a character with a redundant personality description and you're being directed in the booth by some guy who probably has no involvement in any other part of the film? You can't. Hader is funny as Vincent Price because not only is he a good impressionist, but VINCENT PRICE IS FUNNY. I can watch Robin Williams Live at the Met until eternity, but that doesn't give me any desire to watch Aladdin.

Niki said...

Since there aren't any exact ratings to begin with on other films can you re-rate this between 0-100 with the obvious lowest and highest being obvious? We can assume that Shrek and the rest are just stuck on that zero.

Also I'll show you this so this, I don't want a critique or anything I just finally decided to solidify a grasp on this subject. I'll show you all of them as I do them

Niki said...

Sorry for the double posting, but, Thank you about the fingers. I hate square fingers the most when they're in cg especially if they're on girls, we can thank Shrek for that.

PeteyX said...

Hey, what was your beef with Up? Just curious, I enjoyed that flick. Maybe some of the supporting cast lacked design flair, but I thought the main dude was pretty solidly constructed.

JohnK said...

"wait, I thought you said you liked this movie...you sly fox you"

I didn't say I liked it. I said it was the best one I've seen yet, and that it shows that it would be possible to make a good animated feature, if someone decided to do one with interesting characters and an entertaining story.

Toole said...

Do you like any animated features?

JohnK said...

I like the dramatic parts of classic Disney features.

There's no feature been made yet that I enjoy all the way through.

There are lots of classic live action films I enjoy the whole way though.

Animated features are just too inbred. So far.

Isaac said...

Back of the DVD case:

"Leagues ahead of any other animated feature today" - John K

Glen said...

I wanted to see this movie just because it was something different (I've never seen a movie about raining food) but I have to admit, when I saw that you had positive things to say in your teaser post I basically rushed out to see it.

If it impressed you in some way then I knew I had to at least check it out.

I guess the only thing I didn't expect to see in your full review is your negative feelings about the story being basically ten minutes of plot stretched to feature length. I mean I guess I agree, but I was okay with it because, like you noted, all the filler was either jokes or the animators having fun. It seems like that's something you typically say we don't have enough of in cartoons now; letting the jokes and entertainment carry the work instead of a rigid story structure. Just like the post you did a while back where you talked about not understanding why execs think stories need to have a beginning, middle, and end.

At any rate, I really enjoyed the film, though I agree with you about how these movies have the same stock characters and lessons. I didn't feel that the characters were devoid of personality, just that they had the same basic personality types we tend to see time and time again, like you said. But I enjoyed the movie enough that this didn't really occur to me until I read it in your post, and still isn't something that kills it for me.

And the 3D did add a lot of fun; I highly recommend it. I'm finding that many people have yet to see a 3D movie with the new generation technology because they don't realize that it's any different than the old "red and blue" 3D. It really is amazing and is infinitely better than older 3D. Objects look solid and real and feel like they are just a few feet from your face. This movie made good use of it, but didn't use it to the point where it was so gimmicky that it would be pointless to pick up the DVD.

Kevin Schmit said...

John, could you clarify what you mean when you said that the animation was 50% CalArts. I don't understand what that means because CalArts students have produced some very broad films stylistically, even if alot of them are in the 'pixar style'.

Chip Butty said...

Have you not enjoyed Ralph Bakshi's features all the way through?

Isaac said...

@Kevin Schmit

You should read this column more if you don't know what the CalArts style is. Circular googly-eyes, wedge-shaped mouthes, lots of arm-flailing, and heads bouncing from side to side.

Kadoogan said...

I enjoyed both Meatballs and Up but just because I had zero expectations. I thought both were patently stupid ideas for a movie. To their credit they made me laugh out loud several times each.

I still like the retro-looking simplicity of the characters in meatballs. They seem no better or worse than any of the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons.

What I found out of place was the realistic ocean water, and much of the town and background elements. This has vexed me with most CG features because it's like they can't decide if they want to be a cartoon or a live action movie. It's kind of cool they can do such realism, but it is uniquely unnecessary and distracting in a cartoon. More likely it is the result of someone deciding to use an effect instead of artistic talent...

The main character's laboratory was great on the inside. For some reason it gave me the same feeling I got when I was a kid playing with my first Lite-Brite set...can't describe it properly here, but it was a pleasant feeling.

I kind of like the translucent skin effect they have been incorporating into CG these days. I have no reason for liking this. I just do.

Kids in the audience were laughing a LOT while I was in attendance. I am assuming this was the target audience and so...mission accomplished.

from the past came foward to represent the grave. said...

J. Kricfalusi, how do you feel about Beast Wars:Transformers?
I personally find it analogous to man's menaced mentality at the hind of the coming century, as well as his terror of the computer age, implication being that man would in fact be a cybergeneticized race beyond the turning point so to speak.
You ought to consider this in your diatribe of the CGI culture, or at least leave it here for others to see, and be aware that you approved of my observations.

Oliver_A said...

The thing for me with CGI animated features is, I do place them in an entirely different cathegory as hand drawn animation. For example, the look is much more reminiscent of stop motion features, which ironically seem to co-exist now besides CGI features (Coraline - though that movie is probably FAR away from your taste). Turn off the motion blur (which would save quite a lot of computing time) and you practically HAVE stop motion.

Point is, nobody compared stop motion features to hand drawn animation back then, so why should CGI features now be their designated successor?

I think hand drawn animation suceeds far better in making clear visual statements than both stop motion and cgi.

And, btw, as long as you see a normal print, CGI IS 2D. ;)

Roberto González said...

>>If I was a kid, I would love the movie, because it at least gives kids some of what they like - weirdness, action, impossible stuff and some zaniness.>>

Then, aren't you being a little too harsh? I also think it's better to do a movie for all audiences, but if you consider that kids will love it then it's a little better than zero.

Incidentally, have you ever seen Clone High? That's for adults.

I highly doubt this is an undirected film, maybe it's loosely directed, in the sense that the directors allow a lot of things. I haven't seen the movie but after watching Clone High I'm pretty sure that the jokes are there because Chris Miller and Phil Lord like to have fun. Clone High is also full of jokes. All things indicate that this movie is the product of its directors, so probably Sony animation executives are a little more permissive than those in Pixar or Dreamworks.

And for animated movies to enjoy all the way through, how about Three Caballeros? No moral lessons (well, maybe a little in the first shorts), charismatic characters and lots of visual fun!

Kaiser Fate said...

I have thus far only seen one poster for the movie (Australia gets a lot less film publicity shoved down our throats which can be a good or bad thing).
I was put off by the design of the main characters, and I guessed from the name that it would be rather impossible to extrapolate any kind of intelligent story out of the concept.

This is the first time I have seen the female reporter character, and perhaps it's because the stills suck as much as you say they do but she is probably one of the ghastliest designs I have ever seen in a big budget animation feature! :s

ThomasHjorthaab said...

Hey John! here you go, a nice sir helped me out with the clickable link!

Cheers!

construction

Roberto González said...

I am not exactly sure why Toy Story 1 is ok and other Pixar movies are not.

I also really liked Up and I think you're being unfair by picking the worst picture of the characters in that movie. The designs were quite decent, especially the bird. And yeah, I know your point about 3D and details making the characters unappealing, but all things considered you don't normally notice the details so much when they're in motion, unlike they are full of "realistic" ugly details like Shrek designs.

And it's not like Toy Story is better than Up in terms of design, at least it doesn't seem to me.

I can see your problems with Ratatouille, a movie that has a fun premise but refuse to use it in a cartoony way. But Monsters Inc, The Incredibles or Up have good stories. Yeah, they have some pathos and "message" but I think they are tolerable.

That said, I agree with you that it's difficult to enjoy animated films all the way through and it's easier to find life action movies that are enjoyable from beginning to end. I sometimes wonder if animation is more adequate for short pictures.

wwhhaatt?? said...

Hi John,

Very insightful review. Please review some movies from the past 20 or so years! I'd love to hear your take on films like 'Lilo and Stitch', 'Roger Rabbit', 'Titan A.E.', etc.

I'm in 100% agreement with you... the only emotion I've felt with an animated movie lately is boredom, aside from being surprised by the occasional glimpse of imagination and originality. Frustrating.

Zack said...

This is the most hilarious movie review I have ever read
http://twitter.com/furrypuppet

Trevor Thompson said...

I felt the same way about 'Horton Hears A Who'. Exactly.

JohnK said...

"And it's not like Toy Story is better than Up in terms of design, at least it doesn't seem to me."

Roberto:
you need a prize for "person most tolerant of being poked in the eye."

Toy Story 1 has cute appealing well balanced designs. It's a far cry from "up" which looks like it was designed by 10 year olds.

That old man character defies every known rule and technique of good character design.

He is cluttered, lumpy and chaotic.

He has no negative spaces on him that can be used to draw your attention to the positive spaces. He is too stumpy in proportion, and too lumpy with wrinkles and costume detail to be able to get a decent clear pose out of him.

You can't see where his face is - like many characters in comic strips today. He looks like something out of Drabble or Cathy.

He has no appeal - neither in a cute way or in a funny way.

He's a square cluttered mess.No contrasts or balances of purposeful shapes and directions.

There is no functional or artistic thought at all in him.

I think you like to argue just for the sake of argument.

Everything isn't equally good just because you have a wide range of acceptance of skill and talent.

Jessica said...

I was pleased to see characters with nice, large eyes.

big-eyed girl

Pity, the crowd around her is so boring!

Rick Roberts said...

"I highly doubt this is an undirected film, maybe it's loosely directed"

There is no such thing as a director in animation today, it's just a title.

ThomasHjorthaab said...

well, John I think it's cool you reply my request for critique.

And it's not because I'm trying to be rued, but if you deicide to reply, could you please give me some constructive critique, instead of a statement?

- Thomas

David R said...

I agree with the complaints about the voice actors. Too many of the movies today cast people with recognizable voices - wouldn't it be funny to have Chris Rock as a zebra? This reached its pinnacle with Monsters vs. Aliens where there are actual opening credits that list the actors.

I feel like Pixar does a better job of casting - in many of their movies its difficult to tell who does the voices if you dont know beforehand. Still, somehow today you can't recruit unknowns to do voices even though presumably no one will go see Meatballs just to here any of the actors display their vocal abilities.

Ian Worrel said...

@ Isaac
you should decide what the calarts style is by looking directly at the students (and this doesnt mean briefly searching 'calarts student film' into youtube), and not through johnk's narrow funnel of bullshit and bias. idiot. think for yourself. I dont know why I bother. youre all a bunch of mindless lemmings on this blog who's thoughts are borrowed from another.

Namowal said...

"We learn the same lessons that we learn in every animated movie
It's OK to be yourself - especially if you are bland and wimpy."


Wimpy protagonists drive me crazy, yet cg animation seems awash with them. It's almost like seeing the same character over and over... he's a little unsure of himself, he has big dreams, any trouble he causes is accidental ... yawn.

He'd never give in to impulse or temptation (Pinocchio), attempt dangerous stunts at the risk or ridicule (Dumbo), be motivated by jealousy (Toy Story), or spend the movie tormenting the villain (Peter Pan).

Mr. Fun said...

John, you are one tough customer, man!

Some thoughts:

I haven't seen Meatballs (yet) but I plan on taking my kids this weekend. I've heard a lot of good things about it.

I also despise the art direction in Ratatouille - it actually infuriates me if I think about it too long.

We are very much in agreement on many facets of cartooning/animation.

Loved the Davey & Goliath reference. You kill me!

spaz said...

I haven’t seen the film yet but when looking at the character design and tv trailers I keep getting an eerie feeling I’m watching the latest Enablex commercial; and soon a bunch of bouncing water filled balloons posing as pee filled bladders are going start merrily invading the shot.

The brain does different math when it’s trying to compute cg vs. 2d. 2d relies on line to dictate volume. Cg relies on a color lookup table of 17.6 million to dictate volume. The absence of detail in a 2d pose is what makes the brain fill in the blanks. Cg is filling in the blanks and doesn’t force your imagination to work. Combine this with cg executives and a new medium is born which claims it’s root in 40’s style animation .

I’ve watched this argument for years and compare it to the film vs stage quandary. It was once believed that film would destroy the theatre. The opposite happened, it only reinvigorated it. Film actors know that the real test of their performing ability is on stage and not in front of a start-stop camera, yet to the average Joe, these are the same thing. The cg revolution did not grow out of cartoons. It grew out of simulation, weapons design and numeric control milling; nothing stylish here. Therefore , technically the first cg “animators” were more adept at engineering than acting.

Of course it is not as extreme today, however an entire generation has grown up to accept computer animation and all the support systems behind it , regarding “opening weekend”, “lesson teaching”, “toy marketing” , “dvd sales” “political irony”, and now the ultimate addition to try and make it like the 40’s , “3d”, to the point where people feel confident enough to compare it to 2d when 2d dominated screens. Similar to compressed ipod music; completely acceptable to the paying audience.

Cg animation is “style compression”, if it has to be compared to 2d but, as it continues it’s current ride of popularity it can only be defined under it’s own terms.

Roberto González said...

>>I think you like to argue just for the sake of argument.>>

Nope, I like to argue when I want to know more details to understand the opinion of the other person.

I'm sorry but even though I draw comic strips, I'm a fan of classic cartoons and I read your blog and the Preston Blair book I still don't analyze each characters by rules when I see them.

I just take a look at them and I find them appealing or not. I dislike the look of Cathy or Shrek, but I like Up designs considering they're 3D.

I don't really like 3D, 2D is still a lot more appealing to me than 3D any time of the day. And yeah, I enjoy this "Cloudy" characters more than Pixar designs because they look more like 2D characters.

But to me "Up" designs look more like caricatures of human beings than "Toy Story" designs, which look like real toys. I prefer to see some kind of caricature instead of what it almost looks like stop motion. I truly find this: http://fantasy-forever.com/uploaders/images/big/727424852.jpg more appealing than this: http://fantasy-forever.com/uploaders/images/big/727424852.jpg

Yes, if I look at Carl's design with detail I can see there are no negative spaces in his face and there are too many details in his clothes, but its little body and face expressions made it enjoyable to me.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that you seemed to choose the worst image of the characters purposely. This one is better: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_GsJ0PZjfZPw/SgjF8Qd8qoI/AAAAAAAACAA/A5hb3aDxFs0/s400/Russell+Carl+Up.jpg

The animation of his mouth is funny when he's saying "No" to the kid at the beginning of this trailer:

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=53929570

He's not exactly cute, but he does look kind of funny to me.

And I highly doubt I deserve the "person most tolerant of being poked in the eye" prize, considering that most people go to watch these movies or Shrek movies and very few have problems with the designs.

I'm not saying that's a good thing, but it's a reality.

Mr. Fun said...

I have to agree with joAco who wrote:

"I would love to watch some excercise you made in CG, because I think the only way I can start to emphatize with the way you feel about CG is to view you approach to it."

I would really love to see your approach to CG, John! I think it could be pretty sweet!

RAKninja said...

Nice to see that I am not the only one that CG does not appeal to. I tend to have to argue with folks to make them realize how generic these features are.

Then again, Hollywood hasn't put out even a live action move I'd rate above a zero in about ten years.

Ted said...

"You can't see where his face is - like many characters in comic strips today. He looks like something out of Drabble or Cathy."

Both of those strips are more than 30 years old...

Peter Bernard said...

I think Oliver A makes a good point-- I don't view "Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer" as being the same kind of film as "Grinch That Stole Xmas." When I do little cg "cartoons," I call them puppet movies. That's what they ARE!! I like playing with virtual puppets same as Clampett and Daws Butler and Soupy played with their puppets (although I'm not placing myself in their league talent-wise).

Dave Woodward said...

I completely agree John! My name's Dave Woodward and I'm a young cartoonist. I absolutely hate how CG movies are completely degrading and boring.

When Toy Story first came out, it was cool because "Wow! 3D!" but how many times do they really have to do this? I miss when Disney used to be cool.

I myself grew up watching Tex Avery & Looney Toons, everything with Chuck Jones & Bob Clampett's magic touch. I also was always fascinated with your work on Ren & Stimpy. It's one of the shows that made me want to become a cartoonist. As of now, I make comic strips for my school paper and my blogger page. Feel free to check them out if you'd like!

-Dave

Rick Roberts said...

As for Clone High, the drawings are so terrible you can't even tell which character is suppose to be which historical figure.

Jizz Wad said...

Absolutely spot on! Thank God for people who can actually question the standards at the moment.

'Horton Hears A Who' is the least rubbish CG feature animation but again some of the characters are just ugly.

Theme wise 'Horton' does promote children questioning the close minded reactionary authority of adults.

Ironic that they're 3d dimensional yet the characters are so One Dimensional. Don't settle for this tripe, challenge the standards!

If you make a film that is suppose to appeal to everybody, it will appeal to nobody in any significant way. I can't stand this winking at the adults occassionaly with a supposedly adult joke and then force feeding everyone with sentiment and messages. When did sermans become entertainment?

The cycle needs to be broken, we're seeing the same film over and over again with the same characters and voices and messages.

RooniMan said...

I have to check this movie out and keep my eye peeled for those moments you mentioned in your review.

Isaac said...

@Ian Worrel

Thanks for pointing out that I'm an idiot. I don't know how I've lived this long without realizing this painfully obvious fact.

However, please note that "Spümcø style" does not represent the work of every person ever to work at Spümco; "Disney style" does not represent the work of every person ever to work at Disney; "Cartoon Network style" does not represent the work of every person ever to work at Cartoon Network.

Oh, and "CalArts style" does not represent the work of every student ever to study at CalArts.

A style necessarily is the defining characteristic of a certain body of work.

Please read this.

Sincerely,
A person who obviously hasn't given much thought to what he says

Sven Hoek said...

Hooray on the contract/compare of Toy Story and UP. The characters in Toy Story were toys so the movements were much less distracting since you kinda expected them to move like toys and they were appealing. The characters in UP were just awful to look at and their movements were distracting and computery. The only good thing in UP was the 3D effects. Hardly enough to carry a bad cartoon.

And the voices in these cartoons are, sorry to be redundant but BLAND, BORING!

They have been replaying Ren and Stimpy and I have finally been able to see the last few seasons (as I stopped watching it when John left) and they reused every pose john every made.

John K. have you expressed your feelings on the last few seasons of R&S anywhere? Watching it now it's like watching a train wreck. The show just devolves into this attempt to recycle anything good that John did in the first few seasons. And it sounds like Billy is just phoning it in toward the end.

Mr. Semaj said...

Roberto:

I sometimes wonder if animation is more adequate for short pictures.

That's the Kool-Aid talking.

spaz said...

Ian, old chap. then why are you on this sight ? doesn't that make you an idiot too ?

ps. loved the calarts eyes in your student piece "second wind"

Roberto González said...

>>As for Clone High, the drawings are so terrible you can't even tell which character is suppose to be which historical figure.>>

I'm not sure they wanted them to resemble the historical figures that much (especially with Joan's character). The drawings are one of many imitations of Genndy Tartakovsky's style. Not the best I've seen but it still looks quite better than most of the other adult cartoons.

Also the concept is clever and the gags are hilarious, but of course we all should ignore that if we don't like a particular drawing style.

Jonathan Harris said...

Hah, you must be a real hoot to watch a movie with, John! Do you heckle in theatres?

I actually find these ultra-bland characters uglier than the examples from Up you put there. The extras in particular make me feel physically ill. I mean look at that third image you posted! UGH! The girl happens to be making a really hideous, unfortunate face in that picture, too, which makes me wonder why it was chosen as promotional matieral. It looks like a dodgy in-between frame.

While I don't know if you'll answer or not, I'm curious to know how much direct experience you have with animating with CG. I know you had that 3D Jimmy in the Bjork video and posted that nice George Liquor mowing test with the 3D background a while ago, but I imagine you had specialists come in to work on those bits. How much do you know about the process itself?

Having done it quite a bit I can say it's almost impossible to come up with unique facial expressions, since you're limited to whatever your rigger can make the character capable of doing, and posing is so amazingly unnatural and unintuitive. If they managed something good in this movie in those respects then I'll have to see it.

Hans Flagon said...

This film is in a very strange place, as far as the creative community goes.

http://willfinn.blogspot.com/ is a typical take, and John's is leaning up against that pretty closely.

When I saw the movie as it was being merchandized, all I could think was, this isn't going to help sales of the source book at all. It isn't at ALL like the source book ( or entirely like it) but is merely using its idea as a jumping off point.

The Book has probably been a bit of a perrennial source of income for Ron Barrett and his wife. I knew Barrett (and I may not even be spelling his name correctly) most for one page and half page strips in the National Lampoon, such as Politeness Man. His style is like engraving, probably via Will Elder, with a lot of cross hatching. The book as illustrated goes for a bit of timeless 10th century feel to it. Judging from the cover, the characters would fit just as easily in the 1920's as they would in the 1960s, or 1980s. I'm not sure how much the book went into the theme as yummy goodies as obtructive garbage. Probably not much, as simple childrens book whimsical fantasies go. But that is all I could see about the film, an extention of garbage falling from the sky for over an hour. Really your typical early days of CGI television commercial extended to about 90 times the length.
Previews just sort of washed over me as the same gag over and over, in a garish color palette, just something I did not find any appeal in as a story.

So, it is a bit unusual to see the mixed takes, from animation professionals, for various reasons, in the way this project has been handled.

Ratatouille, and its realistic kitchen, appeals to foodies, Not sure where the appeal is in Meatballs the CGI movie, but it certainly is a surprise seeing the oddly positive reaction.

John S. said...

Everybody is falling all over themselves to heap praise on this thing. Having worked on it for a bit, I knew it would be as vapid and un-funny as the management in charge. Thanks again for calling it as you see it.

Zoran Taylor said...

"And the voices in these cartoons are, sorry to be redundant but BLAND, BORING!"

Back to the same point I made about Bill Hader. The Elerly Man in Up is voiced by Ed Asner, a VERY old man indeed, and at that a product of the Golden Generation that John raves about endlessly. Is HIS performance in an amiated feature representative of his acting skills? Probably not.

m said...

Go make an award winning movie and then talk about shrek.

JohnK said...

Give me Shrek's budget and I'll make you 10 movies. Much funnier ones that look better too.

David Germain said...

It's already been mentioned that the male voice actor in that publicity photo is of current SNL cast member Bill Hader. I enjoy his work and think he could easily be a talented voice actor. But, yeah, I agree with John in that he was not used very effectively in this movie. He had to play that bland generic nerd who learns to believe in himself. There's not too much room for fun with a role like that. Here's a little sampleof what he's capable of doing on SNL.
The lady is one Anna Farris. Here's a collection of clips of her from the movie Just Friends. I personally think she is a very talented comedic actress but I don't think her voice is quite suited for animation. I think a cartoon actor should have an out-of-this-world type of voice. Mel Blanc certainly had that with his larynx of iron. Daws Butler, June Foray, and Frank Welker also possess that quality. And of course let's not forget Mr. Billy West.

As for my opinion of the movie, I enjoyed it but I can also see why John liked what he did and hated other parts. That's his opinion and there's nothing any of us can do about it.

One positive thing that John pointed out that I noticed as well is that this movie isn't ashamed to be a cartoon. More and more animated shows (either feature length or short filler) need to embody this spirit. This could be the beginning of a whole new renaissance if the industry does things right (which we all know it won't. Way too many Sander Schwartz types in the woodpile).

Mattieshoe said...

m: nice try

Sven Hoek said...

Bill Hader is very talented, but when you are doing voice over in the studio you need to generate your own motivation and energy level, and if you dont have good direction it can be difficult to judge yourself when you are working on the scene. He is a GREAT impressionist but might need more direction when doing voice over. In movies you have a director to judge the action, and on stage you can feed off of the audiences energy, but when you are in the studio it can be very quiet and sterile.

Guy said...

Ian Worrel: That a CalArts style exists doesn't mean that every single student is an identical carbon copy of each other. Idiot. And from looking at Second Wind and some of your drawings, you're hardly much of a deviation. All you're really missing is obnoxiousness. (See: Adventure Time and Who's Hungry?)

John K. on Up: I can never remember what the old guy looks like. I have to go look at the image on your post. What a crappy design.

Roberto:Also the concept is clever and the gags are hilarious, but of course we all should ignore that if we don't like a particular drawing style.

Awww, Roberto, I thought you had some sense.

m:Go make an award winning movie and then talk about shrek.

Shrek did win some awards, didn't it? Jesus, that's pathetic.

Rick Roberts said...

"I'm not sure they wanted them to resemble the historical figures that much (especially with Joan's character)."

Then the series dosen't make much sense being called Clone High. Besides, it's clear that they wanted to make some sort of half a** attempt with the Lincoln clone.

"Also the concept is clever and the gags are hilarious, but of course we all should ignore that if we don't like a particular drawing style."

*Groan* That isn't a "drawing style", I wish people would stop using those two words in the same sentence so liberally. Stop making execuses people. That's all I hear for modern animation defenses, excuses like "It's suppose to look bad, it's ironic" or "the writing is more important then the drawings".

As for these features that win awards that makes me laugh but when people say they deserve any sort of award it kills me. They get awards because they are controlled by a few companies that monoplize the entire market. The compitetion is non-existent for these films.

spaz said...

"Go make an award winning movie and then talk about shrek."

Broke Back Mountain , was an award winning movie too.

Jeff Read said...

Something I noticed about this movie:

The eyeballs saccade (make tiny quick movements). It looks like they're trying to address the "dead eyes" exhibited often by CG animated characters.

tb4000 said...

The guys that created Clone High(yes, one of the dozens of animated shows that used your style as a template, Jobn) wrote and directed this, which is what made me interested, and the humor is definitely present.

Roberto González said...

>>Then the series dosen't make much sense being called Clone High. Besides, it's clear that they wanted to make some sort of half a** attempt with the Lincoln clone.>>

You know what I mean, they want to resemble them a little but it's not like they want them to look exactly like the historical figures. I mean, Madame Curie's clone is designed like a monster in the series. When designing Joan I'm sure they wanted to make something that fits the personality of the clone, rather than making her very similar to the real Joan Of Arc.

>>That isn't a "drawing style", I wish people would stop using those two words in the same sentence so liberally. Stop making execuses people. That's all I hear for modern animation defenses, excuses like "It's suppose to look bad, it's ironic" or "the writing is more important then the drawings".<<

Sigh, I didn't even use the word "design" cause I knew someone would protest. "Drawing style" is the first two words I could think of, and by that, I don't mean it's good or bad, but yes, I would probably define Seth McFarlane's way of drawing as a drawing style, if I needed, to make myself clear. That doesn't mean I like it, Seth McFarlane's a really crappy, boring and lousy "drawing style". But by "Seth McFarlane's style" everybody knows what I'm talking about.

"Clone High" to me looks very similar to Tartakovsky's work for the most part. I admit Abe's character is a little lousy in his design/animation and parts of his body like his head seem disconnected of the rest, or his poses have not a clear line of action. But most of the other characters use to have line of actions, their faces are expressive and there is at least attempts at composition and good coloring in the frames. John made some posts about these type of designs, the "Cartoon Network" type, mentioning that sometimes the drawings seem too much of a collage with not line of action and flat drawings. I don't think this is one of the worst in that respect.

And no, it's not that the writing is more important than the drawings. But this is an example of a very funny show with not so bad art/designs.

It's good to defend good animation but nobody should totally ignore good stories or jokes because of bad drawings. Even if someone aspires to do Looney Tunes' quality he/she'd probably learn something in good stories and jokes, even if they were in a crappy animated show. I hate Family Guy's drawings with a passion but I admit I'd give it a chance if the gags were fantastic. It won't probably be the best use of the medium either, but at least it would have some entertaining value. Too bad the jokes are almost worse than the drawings.

Also, as far as I'm concerned, Clone High is a series created by Lord and Miller, two cartoonists. They have worked as writers in some sitcoms, but they are the creators of the series AND cartoonist. So they are not "cartoon writers" or "executives", they are just two guys who want to have fun with their show. You can like it or not but I don't think that series are an example of "writer infiltration". I admit I don't really know the details of the production but the whole series look pretty coherent in the humor and character description

These are two guys who like fun in cartoons and even made the second CG movie that John didn't completely hate. They deserve at least the benefit of the doubt.

Roberto González said...

>>Broke Back Mountain , was an award winning movie too.>>

And it was a much deserved award than Shrek's, IMO.

Rick Roberts said...

"You know what I mean"

No I don't know what you mean. There isn't a single character that really resembles anything of the historical figures in question, so it shouldn't even be called Clone High. God Rodrigo, you should be in politics because you just love making excuses for mediocrity. I honestly don't know why.

" "Drawing style" is the first two words I could think of"

Then why don't you call it what it is, just plain bad drawings. You say you study the Blair book and yet you can't point crap out for what it is.

"Also, as far as I'm concerned, Clone High is a series created by Lord and Miller, two cartoonists."

No they under what is called a cartoonist today, sub-par writers who can only make ugly drawings with pointy shapes.

"These are two guys who like fun in cartoons and even made the second CG movie that John didn't completely hate. They deserve at least the benefit of the doubt."

When you throw that much money around, something has to stick.

Talking to Rodrigo and everyone else who defends this kind of crap, it just goes down to sad mentality of if you like something then it must be defensible. I have laughed at, at least, the first two seasons of Aqua Teen Hunger Force but I am not dumb enough to come on a blog about real cartoons and try and invent some excuses for it's bad drawings and animation. You see my point here ? I can enjoy something but I can't defend it.

Alex said...

Wowzers! After months of toned down commentaries and animation lessons, this is the harshest post I've seen here in a while.

I myself saw Meatballs before eve knowing that John would post a critique, and had alot of fun regardless.

If you're going to say that nothing made for features is ever good, who can we trust to make features?

Mr. Semaj said...

Also, as far as I'm concerned, Clone High is a series created by Lord and Miller, two cartoonists. They have worked as writers in some sitcoms, but they are the creators of the series AND cartoonist. So they are not "cartoon writers" or "executives", they are just two guys who want to have fun with their show. You can like it or not but I don't think that series are an example of "writer infiltration". I admit I don't really know the details of the production but the whole series look pretty coherent in the humor and character description

Hands-on folk at that. Their recent interviews concerning Cloudy... shows that they're on the artists' side when it comes to having fun and letting people do their jobs.

http://www.firstshowing.net/2009/09/18/interview-cloudy-writersdirectors-phil-lord-chris-miller/

Clone High, in spite of its bad drawings, was the last good thing to ever air on MTV.

Roberto González said...

>>God Rodrigo, you should be in politics because you just love making excuses for mediocrity. I honestly don't know why.>>

No, I "make excuses" for the things I enjoy at some level, I don't bother making excuses for things I consider mediocre.Maybe I'm a little more tolerant than other people here, but I still agree with most of the points John makes. I just don't get so angry. Instead of saying "This is crap!" I say "This could be better". But I totally concur with the things that should be changed. Of course there are things that ARE crap, but Clone High is certainly not one of those IMO.

If I like the plots of an animated series I'd say so. I know this blog is about good drawings, but I can't say something that entertains me at some level is totally bad if I don't feel it.

>>Talking to Rodrigo and everyone else who defends this kind of crap, it just goes down to sad mentality of if you like something then it must be defensible. I have laughed at, at least, the first two seasons of Aqua Teen Hunger Force but I am not dumb enough to come on a blog about real cartoons and try and invent some excuses for it's bad drawings and animation. You see my point here ? I can enjoy something but I can't defend it.>>

Nope, I don't see your point. When I enjoy something I usually can-or at least try- to defend it. Yes, maybe once in a while if I'm really bored and I have absolutely nothing else to do I can sit through something I don't like and find a certain amusement in it, but I wouldn't take that as "enjoyable". Like, I usually enjoy one or two gags out of twenty in each Family Guy episode I've seen (I've seen like four or five episodes) , but almost everything else makes me cringe, so I won't count this is as something I enjoy.

I admit I enjoy South Park sometimes,especially the movie, but you won't see me defending the drawings of that show. And I don't think they have consistent quality in the stories/jokes either, they make a quite funny episode once in a while.

"Aqua Teen Force" is one of those shows that look so bad that I can't hardly watch it for a minute, so you see, I'm not as tolerant to crappy drawings as you thought.

Also, my name is Roberto, no Rodrigo. And thanks Mr. Semaj for the link to the interview.

Rick Roberts said...

"Nope, I don't see your point."

That's okay because I really didn't expect you to.

Also the work of these two hacks speaks volumes regardless of any so called relationship they have with artists. The thing today is looking like some sort of "artist" or "auteur" in cartoons. It has been happening ever since the animation boom happened in the late 80's.

Marcos Gp said...

I kinda predict too that you might like this movie.It's the first time that a cgi movie dares to be cartoony. Go Cloudy!

Mr. Semaj said...

Talking to Rodrigo and everyone else who defends this kind of crap, it just goes down to sad mentality of if you like something then it must be defensible. I have laughed at, at least, the first two seasons of Aqua Teen Hunger Force but I am not dumb enough to come on a blog about real cartoons and try and invent some excuses for it's bad drawings and animation. You see my point here ? I can enjoy something but I can't defend it.

You don't have a problem defending the Ren & Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon.

People like Roberto can express things they like and don't like about different stuff without totally ripping the crap out of it with the worthless black-and-white logic you use.
Would I hold it against you if you stuck up for Aqua Teen Hunger Force? In this case no, because I'm not interested enough in ATHF to prove to everyone how overrated it is.

mcgill said...

Hey...it's another edition of "This CG flick sucks" staring John K! Don't you think it's getting a bit old John? I mean you're kind of turning into the Sean Hannity of the animation community, aren't you? You're just screaming about all the CG crap you hate....over and over and over again.

Newsflash...we get it. You only like your own drawings. Maybe someday you'll surprise us by knocking out a kick ass CG short and show us just how great CG animation can be.

mcgill said...

Hey...it's another edition of "This CG flick sucks" staring John K! Don't you think it's getting a bit old John? I mean you're kind of turning into the Sean Hannity of the animation community, aren't you? You're just screaming about all the CG crap you hate....over and over and over again.

Newsflash...we get it. You only like your own drawings. Maybe someday you'll surprise us by knocking out a kick ass CG short and show us just how great CG animation can be.

mcgill said...

Hey...it's another edition of "This CG flick sucks" staring John K! Don't you think it's getting a bit old John? I mean you're kind of turning into the Sean Hannity of the animation community, aren't you? You're just screaming about all the CG crap you hate....over and over and over again.

Newsflash...we get it. You only like your own drawings. Maybe someday you'll surprise us by knocking out a kick ass CG short and show us just how great CG animation can be.

mcgill said...

Hey...it's another edition of "This CG flick sucks" staring John K! Don't you think it's getting a bit old John? I mean you're kind of turning into the Sean Hannity of the animation community, aren't you? You're just screaming about all the CG crap you hate....over and over and over again.

Newsflash...we get it. You only like your own drawings. Maybe someday you'll surprise us by knocking out a kick ass CG short and show us just how great CG animation can be.

JohnK said...

I liked a lot of the film. Maybe you didn't read the post.

They just didn't show the good parts in the stills.

Peggy said...

Hey, thanks for the review. I ended up seeing this with some friends partially on your, um, well, compared to your take on most animated features this was a glowing recommendation! I was real happy to see so many scenes that seemed to be about funny animation for its own sake; having about ten minutes of plot stretched into ninety minutes via lots of funny imagery was not a bad thing.

I mean, there was absolutely no reason for the cop to move around with all these acrobatic leaps (for instance) - but it was fun to watch. The whole movie was more about being fun to look at than any feature cartoon I've seen since "Yellow Submarine" blew my eight-year-old mind.

mcgill said...

First off...I like what I said, but not enough to read it 4 times. Not sure how that happened. Feel free to use executive privilege to delete some of those.

And yes...I did read your post. I read your teaser that led me to believe that you liked it. Then I read the review. There are some good points...but it just comes back to everything sucking. Traditionally, giving something a 0 means it sucked and sucked hard. Did I misunderstand you? Or is that a metric rating? The guys that directed Cloudy love the same things you love..and didn't some of the designers work for you at some stage? They are cartoony guys and a lot of that comes across in the picture..In my opinion.

Guy said...

Hey...it's another clueless idiot here to complain that John K. won't pretend that modern animation is absolutely perfect. Don't you think it's getting a bit old, you guys? I mean, you're kind of turning the animation community into a really pathetic place, aren't you? You're just screaming whenever you hear the slightest criticism....over and over and over again.

Newsflash...we get it. You hate the idea that modern animation is junk. We do too. That's why we want them to surprise us by knocking out kick-ass animation and show the world just how great animation can be.

JohnK said...

"The guys that directed Cloudy love the same things you love..and didn't some of the designers work for you at some stage? They are cartoony guys and a lot of that comes across in the picture..In my opinion."

Exactly what I said.

Very cartoony in parts.

Just no story or characters.

It's still the best animated feature since Jungle Book. I have nothing against cg.

I have something against boring and filler and false messages - in 2d or CG.

I can watch a Bugs Bunny 50 times. Even a Woody Woodpecker.

An animated feature is hard to sit through even once. Even if technically it has some good stuff. It still needs character and that's what's been missing for decades.

horace said...

it would be very interesting to see you do CG animation. do you have any plans in this regard?

Roberto González said...

>>I have nothing against cg.>>

Personally, I do have something against cg. At least unconsciously. I prefer the stories Pixar is telling rather than 90s Disney, but I still don't like CG as much as 2D, even if the 2D is the generic style in every Disney movie.

I tried to learn CG once. To me it was a totally unnatural way to design a character. More similar to sculpt a figure than to draw a character. I just fail to see it as a good method to draw characters. It tooks a lot of time to make something that I could draw faster in a paper and it'd probably look better. Maybe if I have dedicated it more time I'd have learnt to love it, but I'm interested in funny and abstracts designs, not in space, lighting or camera movements. Those things can help sometimes but with a really funny looking 2D character on screen you wouldn't even need a background.

I can't see CG being as abstract as 2D. Best thing you can do in CG still looks like cute puppets, not the abstract "real" caricatures you see in the drawings.

That doesn't mean I haven't enjoyed some CG movies and designs, but I almost always end wishing they were in 2D.

You made a post long ago showing some photographs of classic cartoons figures as an example of 3D designs that looked good in those pictures. I agreed they looked good but they still looked like really nice figures, puppets, not cartoons. You can't make Chuck Jones' Bugs pupils in CG and if you do, they wouldn't look as vivid.

Of course I seem more tolerant when I say I liked "Up" designs, but I didn't LOVE those or any other CG designs mostly cause they were in CG. Then you can add all the problems of construction you like.

I have hopes that "Cloudy" will at least show me that CG can get pretty cartoony.

Since you say you don't have a problem with it I would like to read some more entries in this blog about the possibilities of CG.

Rick Roberts said...

John, did you like the Davey and Golaith character designs in that pic you posted ?

Rick Roberts said...

Please approve this comment John, I really want this to be known:

I am really sick and tired of trying to made to be ashamed of actually having standards when it comes to entertainment. I criticize cartoons and film because I find them to be a relief among my headaches in the day. I can't "turn off my brain" and just enjoy any piece of garbage because the entertainment is stimulation of the mind whether or not one realizes it. Don't ask me to simply love a steaming pile by asking me have to filter out something enjoyable. I shouldn't have to as the viewer.

End of Rant.

Chris leonido said...

I saw an ad for this a few days ago, it looks rather boring. Just looks like your average copycat of a CG film being done by a different studio to make a quick buck.

But as much I like classic animation like many guys on here, there has been a few things about CG that bored me to death. The only flick I remember liking that was CG is The Incredibles, which wouldve been better as a 2-D flick.

But I really dont plan on seeing this movie, I might rent it in the future but I honestly dont want to see it. The designs look good though, but I have seen better designs though.

Oh and Rick, Ive seen crappier shows then Clone high. I dont even want to mention them on here.

nktoons said...

Thanks for the great review on the movie, John! My brother and his daughter went to see the flick last weekend. They had the strangest look on there faces when they came back. I asked them how it was, and my niece gave it a thumbs down. She said it "was boring". I love your analysis on the CG medium and always love to hear what you have to say!

Mr. Semaj said...

Rick,

Nobody is attacking you for having standards, nor are we asking you to "shut off your brain". There is such a thing as being critical without the bullcrap superiority complex.

Rick Roberts said...

"Oh and Rick, Ive seen crappier shows then Clone high. I dont even want to mention them on here"

Yes and that sad part is people are actually payed for doing worse.

"without the bullcrap superiority complex."


You say tomato...

Guy said...

There are some good points...but it just comes back to everything sucking.

Not everything. Just the things that suck.

Can you come up with a reason for why the things John K. says are bad aren't bad? If not, where's the problem? That you don't like the idea that they're bad? I hope you can figure out the problem with that.

Shorty said...

Does that mean you're seeing some hope for the future? If there has been an improvement in general standard maybe one day it'll be good.
I'm curious as to what sort of cg character you'd create if given the chance?
Also I'm interested to see how you'd evolve a cg character, or how you'd envision your 3d versions of George, Obama and Hilary in a cg movie. Reading your posts when they were being sculpted seemed they would fit in cg to me.

Sven Hoek said...

Yea, I think I saw Chris Riccardi's name in the credits. And I just saw a few minutes of a new Mighty B and it is getting better. The characters are moving in more fun ways and they interact with the BG in a fun way too.

I wonder if Naylor had anytyhing to do with that? Hmmm.

Isaac said...

Rick, you just like arguing, this has nothing to do with standards.

On one hand, you seem to insist on principles. You never name them, but I assume you mean staging, framing, clear silhouettes, hierarchy, line of action, construction, proportions, interesting shapes, appeal, non-canned acting.

Then you go right around and praise Batman: TAS or some barely coherent anime series that lack any of these principles. You can't possibly complain about Clone High while praising WB's superhero shows.

Be honest with yourself. Stop arguing for the sake of arguing.

Rick Roberts said...

"Then you go right around and praise Batman: TAS"

Like Mike F. has ? Because what it lacked in animation it made up for in character design, terrific acting, and stunning backgrounds ?

"or some barely coherent anime series that lack any of these principles."

What are you talking about ?

Rick Roberts said...

"You never name them"

Do I need to mention a laudry list of animation principles every time I say the word ? I hardly think it's nessecary.

Guy said...

Because what it lacked in animation it made up for in character design,

The two character designs?

terrific acting,

It HAD acting?

and stunning backgrounds ?

Brother, if that's your idea of stunning there are classical painters that could make your eyes liquify.

Pogo said...

Great review! I'm generally very cynical with most of today's Hollywood trash, so it's very reassuring to read this and know that John K. isn't jaded either.

Rick Roberts said...

Guy:

Really niave of you unless you are talking about The New Batman Adventures. If you really have the gumption to say BTAS didn't have great character designs then I suggest re-reading this blog along with Kevin Langley's and Jim Smith's. It didn't have stunning backgrounds ? Take a look at, I don't know, EVERY episode of Batman: The Animated Series. They were heavily inspired by the Fleschier Superman shorts hence the1940's deco with a darker twist. There were very well detailed and if you don't believe me just look at Paul Dini's Batman Animated series book that shows many backgrounds used then tell me again how bad they art.

As for the acting, again, alot of ignorance on your part. Ever watched the Two-Face story arc when Harvey Dent started to crack under pressure of his re-election campaign ? The physcological intensity couldn't have been more evident in Dent's facial expressions or Richard Moll's brilliant acting as Two-Face and Harvey Dent battling for control of Harvey's mind.

Rick Roberts said...

Here are a few backgrounds from BTAS:

Nothing to Fear 01

Nothing to Fear 02

Christmas with The Joker 01

Christmas with The Joker 02

Mr. Semaj said...

No one cares, Rick.

Isaac said...

This post might sound like "you disagree with me therefore you don't know what you're talking about," but it's supposed to come out as "you don't know what you're talking about so please think about what you're saying before saying it, and try to examine your argument before you make it."

"The physcological intensity couldn't have been more evident in Dent's facial expressions or Richard Moll's brilliant acting as Two-Face and Harvey Dent battling for control of Harvey's mind."

Said "psychological intensity."

"No! Stop it! Nooooo!"

Taste is subjective and all, but you're calling soap-opera acting "brilliant," needlessly butchered perspective "stunning," and tiresome exposition "story arc."

You want to see a law-man succumb to his dark side? This is how it looks like.

Batman TAS is a textbook example of "not art." It's derivative, shallow, melodramatic, bland. You might like it, sure, no one's telling you not to, but for God's sake lay off the arguing. You're not contributing to the conversation. You don't know what you're talking about, and you have a habit of getting on everybody's nerves.

Please, please, just lay off.

Guy said...

I watched the first season of Batman:TAS once back when I still liked modern cartoons. (or rather, didn't mind them. I think few people can be said to truly like modern cartoons and those that do really, really want to.) I was confused by how bland it was. Like hearing people rave about the taste of white bread. Now the lousy art and bad writing just makes my head hurt.

If you really have the gumption to say BTAS didn't have great character designs then I suggest re-reading this blog along with Kevin Langley's and Jim Smith's.

This blog? The one where John K. used them as one of his favorite examples of bad design until the complaining made him stop?

They're crudely drawn and bland as all hell. He has exactly two designs: one male, one female. And that standing pose is one of the worst poses I have ever seen in my life. I can even get some (non-cartoonist) Batman:TAS fans to agree.

Acting? Acting is the very last thing you should be praising Batman:TAS for. The very last thing. Most of the time the characters just stand straight up and down while dispensing words like any other TV cartoon.

In that episode Two-Face is actually making expressions for a change, but it's not terrific acting by a long shot. It's not bad acting by a long shot.

Those backgrounds aren't bad, but they're sure not stunning. I mean, maybe if you're comparing them to Fairly OddParents, then yeah, they're unbelievably good.

In short, there's no reason to call Batman:TAS good unless you find the idea of calling no TV cartoons from the last few decades (besides John's) good really depressing. I don't care if you do, but don't pretend you have any real reasons for praising it.

Rick Roberts said...

Isaac: I was once again vehemently going to defend the series yet there are so many vitriolic "just be quiets" there is no point. And your obtuse defense of using live action was the worst point of your "rebuttle". I think if you been here long enough you'd realize there is very little to compare to live action in general.

Guy: Get your opinions for once and stop being a broken record. At the very least get a thesaurus.

And Semaj, just shut up. You are smart sometimes but most of the time you come off here as a bitter and childish.

Mr. Semaj said...

And Semaj, just shut up. You are smart sometimes but most of the time you come off here as a bitter and childish.

Like you're any better. Do you seriously think your condescending fanaticism will get people to commiserate with your "having standards"?

craig clark said...

I’ll have to say I enjoyed the film and so did my 5 year old. Old Columbia UPA house style brought to 3D, and a lot funnier than any UPA film. Wacky story, stock characters, and very entertaining animation execution. I had the pleasure of seeing it in overpriced stereoscopic 3D as well, quite a step up from my first 1985 animation effort, “Starchaser: The Legend of Orin” (CG and assist. Animation).

The Cloudy scenes with the mayor were especially well directed, as well as the action and fx scenes. The effect is still puppets, digital puppets not drawn UPA graphic flatness. The idea of held elements with rubber hose extremities animated wildly ala Bobe Cannon and Grim Natwick was evident throughout. It’s good to see another contender in town that can conquer the 3D animation game. I also liked the 2D end credits by my old studio Duck Soup (Duck Studios).

Guy said...

Guy: Get your opinions for once and stop being a broken record. At the very least get a thesaurus.

Oh, you. My opinions are, indeed, mine. I really did watch it when I still liked modern cartoons and found it incredibly bland and watching it now really does make my head hurt.

If you're going to come out with "you... you... JOHN KRICFALUSI" why don't you leave this blog? There's lots of places out there where everyone sits around rocking with their fingers in their ears pretending that modern cartoons are good.

Pokey said...

I finally saw the film today and it was the 2-D edition due to pricing, and I did not ssee an animated short [whuch short played?]

John, I hate to say, and I'm only a few years YOUNGER tan you are, well, five and a half younger [and happy 54th birthday, as I believe it was this past September!], and I actually enjoyed it! {Being a teenager when it was published in 1978, I didn't have my mon read it,exactly, and forgot aboutit, but recall it well..]

As for the voice actors I agree but not here: Bill Hader as "Flint Lockwood" & Anna Faris as "Sam Sparks"[?], two names and characters carried over from the
rather different 1978 book, are basically comics with disctinctive voices, Anna Faris for instance to me being someone whom I've always wanted to hear in a cartoon or CG film.
]She's surrpsingly in this role, if somewhat generic when her voice gets soft, quite funny..a few other others I didn't recognize by name except two certain two celebs, one with three names who sometimes plays himself like in a Harold and Kumar movie, and the other with a title, letter, and mohawk, but they were costars,:)] [Yes, Neil Patrick Harris and Mr.T!]

Blog

Pokey said...

Jorge, btw, you're right about that pciture having Bill Hader and his quality talent, also the like-giften girl on the other side, Anna Faris, his leading nerd as perky leading weather lady!

Blog

--I ntoiced Davey and Golaith.. if anyone is a Gumby fan, [old school Gumby, NOT that Dinaldi or Minga garbage], visit the blog..esp.if anyone loved the stock music in the Gumbys, Spumco used a lot and so did HB.

Alvaro said...

"We learn the same lessons that we learn in every animated movie"

I found most of the morality lessons in animated movies lame and corny. I guess that the people behind those movies just include them to make happy the conservative mothers. But who knows, probably they actually believe that is ok to ber yourself and that cute girls like wimpy guys.

When I saw the first trailer of this, I thought that it was dumb and boring, but after reading this review I´m considering to watch it.

Mr. Fun said...

Well I finally had a chance to see this. My wife brought home the DVD (no 3D).

My taste for humor and animation is very much in line with yours, John. I have been in agreement with nearly every major point you have made over the years.

But.

I must tell you, seriously... I enjoyed Meatballs very much. Bold color... fun character design... lots of quirky movements (most of which I couldn't believe were approved by the suits). A lot of fun. I also noticed how much fun they had with eye movement. The character's eyes darted around at certain points which was fun. To me it reflected some old school charm. Old school Davey & Goliath charm.

As for story (or lack thereof), yeah, not the deepest plot line but let's be honest here, John: name me one animated movie with a riveting story behind it. Seriously, even Toy Story (which I love btw)... even The Incredibles... those do not carry a significantly deep plot. But they are still thoroughly enjoyable (IMO).

Come top think of it, if plot was really important for an animated piece, wouldn't we trash Looney Tunes, Flintstones, and even Ren & Stimpy? For god's sake, plots in animated shorts are practically non-existent! But we love them for many other reasons!

Can't put my finger on all of the reasons why but I enjoyed Meatballs more than any other CG film since The Incredibles.

You could tell (at least I could) that the animators had fun working on it. That's the vibe I got.

Yes, I also hate Shrek.

I hate Ratatooille even more... with almost every fiber of my being, as well as most of the other horrible CG train wrecks corporate America has shoved down our throats... but even I have to admit when I find something decent if not really good... Toy Story, The Incredibles, and Meatballs to name a few.

Don't forget, no cartoon is perfect just like no movie is perfect.

MistahB said...

I liked it when I watched it, but I couldn't decide if it makes me want to be hungry or want to vomit cause it really made me ruin my appetite during the movie theater. Yet again the characters were very bland but some scenes were pretty snazzy when you watched it in 3-D

Tim said...

I'm baffled. I found this to be an animation triumph, its looser and more wacky and classic than any animated feature of the last few years. I laughed harder at this than any Pixar movie, the timing was impeccable. From the guys who gave us Clone High, I mean, I expected nothing less than brilliance. And they delivered!