Thursday, October 30, 2008

40s cartoons - McKimson and our Dads

McKimson understands humanity - not in all its layers and subtleties, but in its basest elements. He knows what's funny about our basic urges.Some critics may think this is low-class and too simple and I would disagree with that. Most cartoons miss human nature altogether. They not only don't catch the "subtleties" and varieties of human nature - they don't even see the basic truthful essentials of human motivation. The fact that McKimson can milk so much entertainment from man's most primitive qualities puts him way ahead of the vast sea of animators past and present.
Animation has a few formula styles, but most of them lack a basic ability to observe anything from the real world and add it to the potential magic of cartoons. These 2 qualities - realism in character motivation and wild imaginative fancy are the 2 hardest things to achieve in animation. McKimson is slim on the wild fancy, but is strong on the realism - the recognizable human motivations that we can easily identify with.
Disney cartoons are completely abstracted from human motivation or character. Walt created a small handful of simple animated stereotyped characters. Other animators who are Disney fans will continue copying these naive unrealistic character types in fully animated features probably forever. They get all their ideas not from observation of life or their own imaginations, but from other Disney films - or now from Pixar films, the successor to Disney.So-called "realistic" cartoons - prime time cartoons that wish to be compared to live-action sitcoms miss a true observation of humanity in another way. Their characters don't act, talk, move or portray any normal recognizable human characteristics. They move like zombies and speak like cartoon-writers, who have little in common with actual people.So back to the infinitely superior McKimson characters.
Watching his cartoons is like when you were a kid listening to your Dad and his friends playing poker.
They are all yelling at each other, shoving, calling each other stupid and laughing uproariously at each others' misfortunes.
You are witnessing a strange and compelling demonstration of grown up maleness in its rawest form.Not only does McKimson understand men conceptually; he and his team have crazy skills in bringing the characters to life on the screen.
McKimson's solid poses and careful timing gives his actions and abuse a ton of power and humor. This isn't something that just any animators or directors can do.

McKimson was the absolute best at it. None of his actions are arbitrary or culled from stock animation techniques. He doesn't randomly use tons of overlapping action or too much squash and stretch just for the sake of it, like Disney animators tend to do.His animation and timing is thought out and executed to give the story, characters and actions clarity, humor and power.

Every time I see this scene I laugh out loud because of how true and expert it is.