Monday, March 30, 2009

Dreamworks Animation Is The New Hanna-Barbera


While it's true that Hanna-Barbera gave us childhood favorites like Scooby Doo, The Flintstones and Hong Kong Phooey, one wouldn't say they necessarily advanced the art of animation as a whole. Sure, we have fond memories of the repeating background that Fred ran past over and over and over again, but we were just kids. Looking back, it's sloppy. Worse yet, it's lazy. I want my cartoon backgrounds deep and rich with detail. And I want my characters fully functional. Not just an arm or a leg. I want the whole body moving. What am I, chopped liver?


At it's height of popularity, Hanna-Barbera was at it's worst. Demand became too high, budgets too low and the work suffered. Corners were cut. And those corners were then cut. As a result we got The Pebbles and Bam Bam Show, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels and Smurfs. It was slop, even by kid's standards. They capitalized on a sure-thing and tried to repackage it thinking no one would notice.

The same thing is happening with Dreamworks Animation. The days of awe associated with computer animation are done. We need more. Fortunately, Pixar understands this. Films like Ratatouille and Wall-E continue to break-down and build back up what we have come to expect with animation. Films like Shark Tale, Madagascar, Over The Hedge, the continued Shrek franchise and most recently Monsters vs. Aliens have not. They appear original, but they're just retreads voiced by Chris Rock, Reece Witherspoon and Will Smith and backed by a marketing budget that could fund dozens of independent films.


Maybe I was hoping for something more with their latest. Seriously, how can you not have fun with a movie titled Monsters vs. Aliens? Maybe someone in a dark corner of a far off theater did. Of course my children liked it. I just wanted to shake them (quick someone call family services) and tell them they deserved better. That their three dimensional characters should have a little more dimension. That their family fun should be a little more funny. But it didn't seem to matter. The 3D glasses were on, the popcorn was plentiful and the explosions were loud. It was like a Michael Bay film, only animated. And shit, that might just be worse than a Hanna-Barbera label.

9 comments:

Paul Arrand Rodgers said...

The character designs in Monsters vs. Aliens may be Dreamwork's most lazy yet. The comparison to Hanna-Barbera is a good one, even if they'll never produce something as unintentionally awesome as CHALLANGE OF THE SUPERFRIENDS, which is so awesome that it must be written in caps.

Greg said...

Seriously, how can you not have fun with a movie titled Monsters vs. Aliens?

The main problem that I can see is that they didn't get Benecio del Toro, Sean Penn and Jim Carrey.

Then, it would have rocked. Totally.

PIPER said...

Paul,

Hanna-Barbera had a large teet and I suckled on that shit every Saturday morning for hours. Scooby Doo, Superfriends, Smurfs. All of it. It's only until I got older that I discovered they were short-changing me.

Greg,

Those guys are the Three Amigos of Success. You get them in a room and magic shit happens. I can see a world where it's only those 3 guys starring in every single movie made.

Tommy Salami said...

I won't forgive them for what did to Tom & Jerry.

As for Dreamworks, Over the Hedge & Madagascar were alright. A step in a better direction, but you're right, they're still the bottom of the big animation houses.

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Fletch said...

I hear ya. I didn't hate Monsters, but it's certainly on a lower level, and besides the point, I'm just plain getting sick of seeing Opie fishing in the nook of a capital D. It's just plain stupid.

Wait a sec - did you just trash talk The Smurfs? Those are fightin' words, mijo.