Thursday, June 26, 2008

An Animated Essay on a Titillating Tag

For those of you who’ve read my blog in the past, you might remember that I am a huge fan of animated films. (With a special concentration on the Disney brand.) So when Matthew Urdan of Meltwater Torrents Meanderings Delta sent me a tag asking me to list my favorite animated films of all time, I was rather intrigued. Not intrigued enough to actually respond to the tag, mind you, but intrigued enough to write a blog entry about why I feel this tag is a particularly hard one for me. (Sorry, Matt, I know this wasn’t what you were expecting, but perhaps you’ll understand after I start pontificating.)

The truth is I love all animated films, even the earliest Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons. I appreciate all the time and energy that goes into pulling off such an amazingly labor-intensive achievement. And I marvel at all the creativity and imagination used to bring the story and characters to life. So to answer a question about my top ten favorite cartoons of all time is not only unfair, but also downright sadistic. What if I pick the wrong ten? What if, while assembling my list, I completely forget about one of my all time favorites? Say, Snow White, for instance. Then later, Snow finds out about my oversight and decides not to be friends with me anymore. And even worse, she forbids me from ever playing leapfrog with the Dwarves again, which as you all know is a favorite pastime of mine. Or what if Monsters, Inc. goes bankrupt because I did not include them on my list, and therefore they don’t have the full emotional support they need to survive? I even hesitate to think what Bambi’s mother might say if I don’t include her son as one of my favorites. It would just kill her!

But wait. That is not even the extent of Matt’s tumultuous tag…no, my dear readers, it gets much worse. For not only did he command me to list my top ten favorite animated films, but he also forced me to choose a character in each film that most resembles me. Horrors! Can you imagine the inner turmoil I’d be suffering while trying to work all that out? Not to mention the angst I’d endure wondering if anyone was making value judgments about me based on what characters I happen to identify with.

Or what if I couldn’t find a character, so I chose one at random, and then was stuck with that moniker for the rest of my life? (“Oh, he chose Ratatouille, so he must be a real rat.” Or “Do you think he chose Pinocchio because he’s a liar, or because he has appendages that grow to unusual sizes?”) And what if I identified with various aspects of a certain character, but not the whole person? Like, I had the independence of Belle, the vanity of Gaston, and the misunderstood personality of the Beast? Would people consider me schizophrenic?

No, I’m afraid this tag is much too difficult for someone as devoted an animated connoisseur as myself. I simply cannot compare one film to another. How can you compare the brilliance of the Evil Queen’s transfiguration into the Old Hag in the original full-length animated feature “Snow White,” with the technical wizardry of something like “The Incredibles” or “Toy Story.” You can’t. They are completely different animals. And yet I love and appreciate them both. As well as everything that came in between.

Well, with maybe one exception. “The Black Cauldron” was a definite low point in Disney animation, and temporarily turned me off to the genre for a period of time. Plus, I was in high school and animation was just not cool any more. Except maybe Saturday morning cartoons, which somehow passed as quality entertainment amongst the cool crowd. But once “The Little Mermaid” came along in the 90s, I was not only hooked again, but an even bigger fan than I was as a child.

To this day, I make my annual sojourn to the “homeland” every year (Disney World) and have my office completely covered in animated statues, posters, and figurines. It allows me to work in an environment that is happy and colorful and just a little bit “off.” Would it work for everyone? No. But for me, someone who grew up constantly escaping into the world of his imagination, my office is a colorful little retreat from the often-grey colors of the real world.

Plus, I wouldn’t want to cause any animosity among the figurines if I should choose a movie that represents some but not others. (The Queen of Hearts and Captain Hook statues can be particularly nasty when they want to be.) All I’d need is for a few of them to get a little jealous, start a feud, and the next thing you know I’m cleaning up huge piles of porcelain and resin off the floor. So to avoid that, I’m going to remain neutral like Switzerland on the topic.

But that’s just me. What are your top ten favorite animated films of all time, and what character would you identify with in each? (Go ahead, you try it….!!!!)


Jon said...

I wouldn't even know were to start contemplating a list of my top ten animated films. I've been a fan of animation for years and I must admit I have a soft spot for the old classic Disney movies - Snow White etc.
But that doesn't explain how I ended up with a tattoo of Betty Boop in suspenders and stockings on my er um.
That's another post entirely.

Matthew S. Urdan said...

Great post, Henson. I understand the conundrum. But I'll give it a shot--naming my Top 10, at least:

10) Beauty and the Beast (Only animated film ever nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.)

9) The Little Mermaid

8) Bambi

7) Toy Story 2

6) Lady and the Tramp

5) Toy Story

4) A Bug's Life (ABBA reference in the second set of bonus outtakes during the credits.)

3) The Incredibles

2) Finding Nemo

1) Fantasia


Debbie said...

I'd have guessed you a "Fritz" fan somewhere in there...

AmyOops said...

Great post. I once saw a movie about Pinocchio (he has appendages that grow to unusual sizes) wasnt animated though...

Henson Ray said...

Jon, Interesting tattoo choice. I certainly would be interested in hearing about that post. heh, heh.

Matt, All good choices. There's a lot of Pixar in there.

Debbie, I assume you mean "Fritz the Cat," which I remember wanting to see as a kid (X-rated, after all) and then seeing it as an adult and being disappointed. I don't think I've ever sat through the whole film. I don't think it holds up well.

amyoops, yeah, I think I remember reading about auditions for that particular "version"...

Ken Armstrong said...

We like Hayao Miyazaki in my house - special soft spots for 'Princess Mononoke' and 'Spirited Away'.

You're obviously a Disney World specialist.. If you have time, would you tell me one thing to see there which most people might miss. I'm 'interested'.

Matthew S. Urdan said...

OH: Honorable Mention: The Last Unicorn!

Grandy said...

Oh, being a huge Disney and animation fan myself, I am not sure I could narrow it down. I'm going to have to do a separate post, and will come back to let you know. Now you've got me thinking...and it hurts.

Matthew S. Urdan said...

All, it's Sunday and I'm catching up on comments for the week. This is in response to your comment on my post: Almost Wordless Wednesday: Pixar's WALL-E.

Linda--WOW, thank you so much for the kind words, the superlative, and the validation.

Jennifer--I actually refer to Short Circuit in my review. Johnny 5 was hilarious. The difference between Johnny 5 and WALL-E though is that WALL-E can't talk. Johnny 5 had clever dialog for his humor. WALL-E just has expression and gestures--which is far more difficult to do--especially to animate. Let me know what you think of WALL-E after you see it.

Sizzlingpopcorn--Thanks Jean! No doubt...You know, there's always the possibility of Best Picture as well--Beauty and the Beast got a nomination...WALL-E is better.

the bushie--it's dramatic, but very lighthearted. Make sure you stop back at MTMD and let me know what you thought about the movie after you see it.

Henson--You are so right! Have you seen WALL-E yet? I'm anxious to know what you think, especially considering our recent discussion on animated films.

tashabud--Yeah, well, when I love something, I glow. Kind of like ET's Heartlight. ;) Let me know what you think after you see WALL-E!

Crazy Working Mom--You won't be disappointed. Why don't you go see it today? The night is young. Do it now.