Back in 1988, an amazing movie featuring human interaction with animated characters was released. It was called “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and it signaled a shift in my childhood perspective on animated characters. As a child who had gone through a phase of adamant refusal to watch anything that wasn’t animated, “Roger Rabbit” was my first real exposure to an acknowledgement of animated characters in a live-action world. And it was fascinating. The ‘Toons were like another race of linguistically developed, perhaps further evolved humanoid creatures that these people lived alongside with little consequence. (Unless a ‘Toon killed your brother.) But they were still cartoons. They weren’t flesh and blood people, they were Ink ‘n’ Paint.
So, my beef with the influx of 3D animation/live action movies is this: Are we supposed to think these characters are real now? Seriously? When we see characters like Garfield, Marmaduke, the Chipmunks, Yogi Bear, etc. interacting with humans, animated to look like they were born of this world, organic, living creatures that look freakishly unlike other animals of their species (is Yogi an av-er-age bear in this world, or is an average bear an average bear? or is Yogi the only one like that? WHY? What happened?), how is it that the humans with whom they interact don’t question it?
It’s bad enough that so many action movies that use excessive CGI are practically cartoons themselves. (Like this, this, and this.) It’s cool-looking, but it’s so blatantly fake. We’re watching actors reacting to nothing, and we wonder why so many of these movies suck. (Okay, “Avatar” doesn’t suck. But it’s a cartoon.) I’ve taken acting classes, and acting is reacting. To actual things that are really happening to you. Actors reacting to a ball on a pole are not acting – they’re playing make-believe. With sticks. (Fact: Bob Hoskins actually rehearsed on-set with Charles Fleischer, the voice of Roger Rabbit, who wore a bunny suit. I swear, I remember seeing this. I really hope I’m right.)
Okay, science fiction is a good exception. And there is certainly good CGI that serves the story, making the impossible come to life. But cartoons are cartoons. Either make the entire thing a cartoon and stop asking people to believe that cartoons are real, or acknowledge that cartoons are not real. Look at a movie like “Enchanted,” which started out as a typical Disney animated movie and then turned into real life. And then it was weird to people that Amy Adams kept acting like she was animated. They didn’t make Patrick Dempsey pretend to be in love with a drawing. And they didn’t make him instantly accept that he had to be in love with a cartoon character. Good job, Disney. Well played. All or nothing. This was the right way to do this.
But this is nonsense.
You might as well make this movie:
Or this one, since no one liked the first “Popeye” movie attempt:
Is this what you want to happen, America? Dave Coulier, would this paycheck really be worth it?
Maybe I’m being an overlogical downer about this. Sure, it’s easy money for actors and producers because of “the children,” and maybe I need to lighten up about things that are meant to be silly, mindless entertainment. And it’s not as if I’m being forced to see these movies. But if I see them try to make a live action/CGI “Oliver & Company,” I officially give up on life. Some things are just…sacred. And they’ve already made “Cats & Dogs” – twice – and that’s a whole other problem.
Or maybe chainsawsuit has it right: