Friday, 19 October 2007


I have a friend who says he doesn't like animated films. The subject arose as a result of my visit to the local Odeon to see the latest Pixar outing, Ratatouille ("" - how annoying is that? Are we really so dumb that we can't pronounce that word?)

Anyhoo, some of the reviews I've read were very complimentary about the film (in particular of Peter O'Toole, and who can argue with that?) saying (yet again) that it was as good as Toy Story. How many times that's been said I don't care to remember, and so far - including Ratatouille - it has proved to be false. So I took the kids along and was a little disappointed.

Don't get me wrong - this is an accomplished film, IMO - with some goodish gags, nice animation and reasonable characters. I'm not sure about the female love interest, and the fat brother could do with further development, if you see what I mean. He's fat. Ha ha. It just doesn't reach the heights of perfection that TS (and to a slightly lesser extent TS2) achieved. There are a couple of reasons for this, I think.

Notwithstanding the Great Mr O'Toole's performance, the idea of an arch-villain (I know that he doesn't end up as an arch-villain - hoping I'm not dropping a spoiler here - but he does take that role until just before the end) being a critic doesn't really curdle the blood or shiver the spine in the way that an arch-villain should. Think of Sid. No food critic he.

Second, and this is endemic these days, the film was too damn' long. Second act syndrome badly effected the pacing, and like most modern animations (and even live action) movies, it could and should have ended at least half an hour earlier than it did. I don't feel that it's right that I'm itching to get out of the cinema when I'm watching a children's movie.

But, it was better than The Incredibles (what's the point of that film?) better than Finding Nemo (good moments, not strong enough over the entire length) not as good as Monsters Inc... wait... Not only is this a little Pepsi Blue (and do Disney Pixar, like, need any more promotion?) I think it would also benefit from a little listifying.

So here, in reverse order, are my top 10 modern (since 1994, so that excludes Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and Beauty & The Beast - all good) and mainstream animated movies. Classics (this term does not include Oliver & Company, no matter what it says on the DVD packaging) are a whole other bottle of bees and for another day. As for my animation unfriendly friend. Pshaw! The films listed are at least as good as any live action movie, so there!

10. Small Soldiers. Scary. I like the bit where the dolls are climbing all over the girl, and the sinister corporation element is always a winner for me, no matter what the film.

9. The Hunchback Of Notre Dame. There are a couple of annoying things about this, namely the smudgy finish to Quasimodo's face and in particular his all-American voice and demeanour. However the darkness of Frollo is genuinely dark, he is a well rounded villain. And the early scene with Quasimodo's mother is wonderfully done.

8. Wallace & Grommit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit. English. Great gags. I'm extremely saddened that the Nick Park venture with Dreamworks didn't take off in the US, because we are talking pure quality. Nuff said.

7. Antz. Woody Allen. Bit of Ovitz digging at Mouschwitz. I need to watch it again.

6. Ice Age. Apart from Sid's too zany face (you don't have to try that hard, guys) this has some tremendous slapstick moments, a brilliant running gag with the squirrel, and a decent villain. Close contender with No. 5.

5. Monsters Inc. Some pointless filling I felt, but overall a real barrel of laughs. The door concept is superbly realised, and Billy Crystal excels.

4. Two in a row, followed by two in a row. Shrek 2. What's not to like about Mike Myers? Not even the Cat in the Hat. Although a little more mannered than the first in the franchise, it's still a stand-up film.

3. Shrek. Rightly generating a franchise. Having seen all three, the deterioration hasn't been too terrible at all. Shrek makes me laugh. A lot.

2. Not in the best tradition of Sir Jimmy Saville, I have removed the suspense from this countdown with my earlier comments. At Number 2 is the mighty Toy Story 2 (please read that link. There are some seriously crazy people in the USA, and the pastiche is not too far off the reality, I can assure you). Where it falls behind its even more illustrious forerunner is hard to define. I used to think it was to do with the music, but I love Jessy's song. Perhaps it's the overly retro nature of the Woody franchise... In any case, I'm splitting hairs.

1. Now then, now then guys and gals. In with a bullet, and not likely to be dislodged for some time yet, in a Bohemian Rhapsody kind of way... It's... Disney Pixar's timeless masterpiece... Toy Story. I thank yew.

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