Though Rover Dangerfield has become a little less lost since the Nostalgia Critic made it the subject of a recent review, it is still not a well known film. I imagine that most people would be surprised to learn that famed stand-up comedian Rodney Dangerfield once wrote, executive produced, and starred in an animated film about a dog from Las Vegas who gets dumped on a farm. Like a number of animated movies in the 90s, it came and went without much fanfare. In this, case, the film’s obscurity is not surprising, for Rover Dangerfield buries what unique material it does have in piles of worn-out cliches.
Archive for the ‘lost animation’ Category
(The Ink and Pixel Club is pleased to present a review of the film When the Wind Blows by guest writer Nick Nadel.)
Over on AMC’s Film Critic, I recently listed some of the best animated movies based on comic books and graphic novels. This one was particularly fun, as I got to discuss When the Wind Blows, a little-seen British animated film from the ’80s that is quite possibly the most depressing movie of all time.
I rented the movie on VHS many years ago (it still isn’t available on Region 1 DVD, probably due to music clearance issues and/or protests by suicide prevention groups), and it still haunts me to this day. Based on a graphic novel by Raymond Briggs (author of the equally sad, but in a more traditional children’s book sort of way novel The Snowman), When the Wind Blows is basically 80 minutes of an adorable British couple slowly dying from radiation poisoning.
Things start innocuously enough (the gentle satire of marital bliss recalls George and Martha, but without hippos), but within twenty minutes, the Russians have carpet-bombed the UK on a level usually reserved for the most post-apocalyptic of science fiction movies and it’s all way, way downhill from there.
Perhaps you’re wondering why there wasn’t a new post yesterday. I’ve got two excuses that should add up to one perfectly legitimate excuse. One, I have a nasty cold that’s draining most of the physical and mental energy I need to write. Two, I just got back from a trip to Walt Disney World, where I got some sun, some souvenirs, and the aforementioned cold. I don’t want to leave you without any new content all week, so I’m going to share something with you, something tied in to my vacation.
The Magic of Disney Animation attraction at Disney-MGM Studios – now called Disney’s Hollywood Studios – was long one of my favorite stops when visiting Disney World. for obvious reasons. The attraction kicked off with a short film entitled “Back to Neverland” starring Walter Cronkite and Robin Williams explaining the animation process, and then gave visitors a chance to observe the real, working Disney animation studio in Florida, accompanied by short video clips of Williams and Cronkite explaining what your were looking at. The tour has undergone some changes since I first got to see it. Disney’s Orlando studio closed in 2004 and the attraction was revamped. The studio your was obviously dumped and a new film was created starring Mushu the dragon from Mulan. It’s still a good introduction to the hand-drawn animation process, but to my mind, the original film with Cronkite and Williams is far superior.
The quality of the following video is not great, since it was clearly shot while the film was being shown for an audience. But until Disney decides to release high quality movies of its old park attractions, this is the only way you’re going to see “Back to Neverland.” You may notice that the tourist outfit Robin Williams is wearing at the start of the film is the same one the Genie wears at the end of Aladdin.
Here’s a shorter clip with better video quality. The person who uploaded this video notes that the animation was done by Frans Vischer whose later animation credits include everything from The Princess and The Frog to The Simpsons Movie to The Prince of Egypt, to the criminally overlooked Cats Don’t Dance. The animator pictured in the film isn’t Vischer, but he is a real animator. He is Bruce Smith, most recently the supervising animator on Dr. Facilier in The Princess and the Frog.
So you guys watch these and enjoy while I try to beat this cold and come up with something for next week.
All footage in this article is copyright Disney
I’m honestly not sure if A Goofy Movie belongs in lost animation. It is a Disney film. It did get a theatrical release back in 1995 and later video and DVD releases. It even got a direct-to-video sequel, entitled An Extremely Goofy Movie, five years later. And among many of my friends, it remains a favorite. On the other hand, it was not treated as a major Disney release; Pocahontas was the Disney feature for the year. Despite a good-sized advertising campaign, the movie kind of came and went in theaters. It came in second at the box office in its opening weekend, but earned less than half of the first place Bad Boys. It was the fifty-first highest grossing film of the year, well behind fourth place Pocahontas and the year’s biggest earner: Toy Story. I think the film often gets written off as a second tier Disney flick or a movie-length promotion for the TV series Goof Troop. That’s a shame, because A Goofy Movie is a surprisingly good film, both funny and touching.
(Some of you may be wondering why I’m reviewing this movie so soon after the Nostalgia Critic did, whether this is a plot to ride his coat-tails to success. Much as I’d love it if that happened, my reasoning is much less ambitious. I love watching the Nostalgia Critic’s reviews, but I try not to watch them if the movie is animated and I haven’t seen it yet. I want a chance to watch the movie for myself and formulate my own opinions about it without being influenced by someone else’s. So I’m doing my review now because I’m an impatient fan who couldn’t wait to see the Nostalgia Critic’s review.)
Back in the 90s, most of the big theatrical animation studios that weren’t Disney were trying to copy Disney’s formula. For a time, it seemed like every studio had to have a go at producing a fairy tale or fantasy in the Disney style, no matter how poorly its predecessors had fared. Most of these films have since been forgotten, and Warner Brothers’ Quest for Camelot is no exception. It did very poorly in theaters after a troubled production history that reportedly included the film coming in over budget. Warner Brothers was so dismayed by the film’s underwhelming performance that the studio began having second thoughts about continuing to produce animated feature films.
A movie that gets crushed by its box office competition isn’t necessarily a bad film. But in the case of Quest for Camelot, the movie’s poor financial performance is a pretty accurate reflection of its quality. Along with other problems, Quest for Camelot suffers from being a film that seems uncertain of what it is about.
Congratulations to our latest trivia contest winner asatira, who gave both the correct name of Louie the alligator’s band in The Princess and the Frog and its connection to Disney history. “The Firefly Five Plus Lou” is a play on The Firehouse Five Plus Two, a Dixieland jazz band whose members were also Disney Studios employees including famed animators Ward Kimball and Frank Thomas. The band has made a few cameo appearances in various cartoons and behind-the-scenes films, but this nod struck me as particularly sweet and appropriate.
Check out the latest trivia contest following the article.
After seeing Fantastic Mr. Fox, I started thinking about the other Roald Dahl book that was adapted into a puppet animation film. Released three years after the groundbreaking Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach was director Henry Selick’s second film. Unlike its predecessor, the film was not a financial success and has largely been forgotten since its release. I remembered seeing the movie in theaters, but not since, and looked forward to seeing how the film held up. The answer is “quite well,” though it does have a weakness almost as big as the titular peach which may have been what caused the film to fall into obscurity.
For a good chunk of the 1990s, Disney was the undisputed king of the American animated feature film. With huge hits like Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, the studio seemed to have a lock on its audience that no other animation studio could break. But that doesn’t mean that no one tried.
Animator Richard Rich worked at the Disney Studios from the late 1970s into the mid-80s. After serving as co-director on The Fox and the Hound and the infamous The Black Cauldron, Rich left Disney to strike out on his own. He founded Rich Animation Studios and began producing a series of animated videos based on Bible stories. In 1994, when Disney was enjoying huge success with features based on classic tales, Rich Animation Studios released The Swan Princess, a feature film based on the ballet “Swan Lake.”
The studio’s first movie was not a financial success. Disney asserted its dominance once again, bringing its enormous blockbuster The Lion King back into theaters the weekend that The Swan Princess debuted. Swan Princess grossed just under $10 million domestically. Rich Animation Studios went on to produce a few more animated features and two direct-to-video sequels to The Swan Princess. They were eventually taken over by Crest Animation Studios of India after going bankrupt. The Swan Princess became little more than a footnote in the history of American animated films. But does it deserve to be more?