Thursday, June 15, 2006
Ever since the Motion Picture Academy instituted a category for Best Animated Feature (with Shrek being the first winner), the Hollywood industry has been slowly but steadily increasing its output on animated feature productions. But we've hit a log jam. Everywhere you turn these days, animated features are dominated the previews, opening in theaters or coming to DVD. In the last 10 months alone we've seen the openings or coming attractions for: Hoodwinked, The Wild, Ice Age 2, Over the Hedge, Cars, Open Season, Flushed Away, The Ant Bully, Monster House, Yankee Irving, Doogal and Chicken Little. Now, I have no problem with animated features per se. Many of them are a lot of fun. But even now, the themes, the plots, and the characters are already starting to feel derivative. The most popular recent example has been The Wild and Madagascar, but films with cute talking animals are everywhere (Over the Hedge, Open Season, The Ant Bully, Flushed Away). If not animals, the same basic storylines are transfered to other objects (ie Cars, Robots). The upcoming The Ant Bully seems to have forgotten that Antz and A Bug's Life both came out quite a while ago. With Yankee Irving we're down to talking baseballs and bats. I just wonder if there has been to much of a rush to increase the animated feature output. While A-list actors have been drawn to animation like a magnet, films like The Incredibles prove there are amazing writers working in this genre as well. I'd like to see more of them treat animation as they do live action and as a result add greater complexity to the genre for all age groups.