Rollin’ France: An hilarious animated look at a world where animals are round

(image (c) Rollin Wild)

 

You’ve seen Rollin’ Safari – and if you have not, why not, here’s the link, remedy this immediately if not sooner – and now the people who brought this imaginative and damn funny animated conjecturing on what a world of round animals would look like, Kyra Buschor and Constantin Päplow from Rollin’ Wild, are back with Rollin’ France.

Like it’s hilarious predecessors, it relies on a healthy heapin’ dose of slapstick, some deliciously on-point observational humour and a willingness to affectionately parody the sort of nature documentaries that made Sir David Attenborough so well-loved and respected.

It’s genius, blissfully, wonderfully drawn and possessed of a singular willingness to be brilliantly, cleverly silly.

Now get off with you – I think I see your dog bouncing by …

(source: Laughing Squid)

 

Is there existential depth to Rick & Morty? “Wubbalubbadubdub yes!” says creator Dan Harmon

(image (c) Adult Swim)

 

One of the really impressive things about Rick and Morty, Adult Swim’s incredibly clever animated series about an alcoholic scientist grandfather and his often hapless but EQ-rich grandson, has been the way it merges bright, funtastic visuals, amazingly imaginative worldbuilding and intelligent storytelling that doesn’t just spin out a narrative but says something really funny while it’s doing it.

Plus of course, it’s funny – really, really funny.

In this video released by Adult Swim to promote the upcoming third series, co-creator Dan Harmon muses on the existential underpinnings of the show; specifically about the recurrent tussle between creator and created, and the angst about life and its meaning that results.

In the face of these big unversal questions – to which the answer is not 42, much as I wish it was – Harmon muses about the end point of Rick’s constant declaration that nothing really matters.

“While Harmon doesn’t subscribe to Rick’s belief that nothing matters, if you get through the ‘terrifying threshold’ of accepting it, [he acknowledges that] ‘every place is the center of the universe, every moment is the most important moment and everything is the meaning of life.'” (source: Mashable)

We always suspected there was a lot of going on beyond the crazy aliens and outrageous plots but this brilliantly-informative, thoughtful video underscores just big the philosophical 90% of the iceberg under the water of Rick and Morty really is.

 

A delightful new animated take on The Ugly Duckling

(image via Vimeo (c) NET)

 

SNAPSHOT
Communications company NET wanted to show how making new connections helps you get out of a funk. They wanted to emphasize their social work as part of the company’s ethos. They proposed a new take on a classic tale. We used a blend of filmed puppetry to give a natural furry feel to the commercial and CG animation to get the expressive precision of the faces and limbs.

We had great fun creating this interpretation of the Ugly Duckling. We threw our furry friend into the worst emotional situations for our greatest viewing pleasure. The poor thing gets rejected from friends and family. He goes on a journey of discovery to find new friends and in the process discovers the pleasure of helping others and spreading love. He can finally find his way back into his family … maybe for the cycle to start all over again. (synopsis via Laughing Squid)

“The Ugly Duckling” is an evergreen cautionary tale about misjudging someone else simply they don’t fit your idea of what is normal and proper.

It’s heartbreaking and infuriating at times as you realise how small minded and predujiced people can be but in the end it is gloriously uplifting as the titular character discovers that not only do they have somewhere they perfectly belong but that their new state of acceptance has a transformative effect on those who used to mock them.

This beautiful tale, whose truths are still very much needed in today’s polarised world where a little love and understanding wouldn’t go astray, has been given new life by Brazilian communications company NET, using a fresh new version of Nina Simone‘s song “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life” from the musical Hair.

It’s a whimsical mix of CGI and puppetry that reaffirms all over again how beautiful and important a tale this, and how in a world far too predisposed to judge and mock, it will always relevant as the day Hands Christian Andersen published it in 1843.

(source: Laughing Squid)

 

Join the animated dots: How Disney movies are connected through hidden Easter eggs

(image via YouTube (c) Disney)

 

At first glance, you might not think that every Disney film is connected.

But they are, my friend, they are!

From Beauty and the Beast to Aladdin, and from The Little Mermaid to Moana, every feature from the Mouse House is connected by a deliciously enticing chain of easter eggs that are laid out in this video from Disney themselves.

You have to figure they have it all sorted and from the look of the video, they do.

It’s a small Disney cinematic universe after all …

(source: Laughing Squid)

 

Hello Mr Cyberman! Doctor Who joins forces with Mr Men

(image courtesy BBC / Roger Hargreaves)

One of the movements that has to come to have a significant impact on modern entertainment options, apart from sequelitis which is alive and well (ish; let’s not get carried away here) is postmodernism, and specifically, it’s love of pluralism.

In our 21st century meta-oriented world where the old and the new come together with joyous regularity, fuelled by the internet which has made everything available to everyone, it’s better known as mashing up and has found one of its most playful outworkings with the recent collaboration between the BBC and Adam Hargreaves, son of Mr Men creator Roger.

This coming together has given us a series of delightful books, featuring initially at least, the first, fourth, eleventh and twelfth Doctors with second, seventh, eighth and ninth coming in August, where each Time Lord incarnation go on fantastically fun adventures as is their wont.

 

(image courtesy BBC / Roger Hargreaves)

 

The books appear to be a lovely mix of Doctor Who and Mr Men, with the formers sense of timey-wimey fun and the latter’s whimsical silliness, and shared serious intent as The Guardian noted in a recent article:

“This Dr Who range has the same purpose as the very first Mr Men titles: to explain complex human emotions and morals to very young children through colourful avatars and adorable whimsy.”

In case you’re wondering which of the bad guys made the cut for the books, the Cybermen, Daleks, Weeping Angels, Cybermats and Silurians are all accounted for, along with Missy who takes the current Twelfth Doctor, played by longtime fan Peter Capaldi, on a merry dance across time.

It’s a ridiculous amount of fun and proof that while mashing things up doesn’t always work, sometimes it works so gloriously well, you wonder why someone didn’t do it sooner … or later … hey it’s The Doctor so these concepts are relative.

 

 

Cheese Trouble: The glorious fun of Wallace & Gromit meeting the Minions

(image via Vimeo (c) Fabrice Mathieu)

 

As fun, whimsical calling cards go, they don’t come much better than director and editor Fabrice Mathieu‘s seamless editing together of Aardman Animation’s Wallace and Gromit, and Illumination Entertainment’s Minions.

In his delightful mash-up Cheese Trouble, the Minions forgo their usual food of choice, bananas!, in favour of cheese which naturally puts them into competition with Wallace and Gromit, in whose household cheese is, most assuredly, king, queen and every other hierarchical ruling personage.

Stitching together footage from a number of films featuring the two sets of characters – the full list is available at the end of the short film and via Film School Rejects – and music drawn from The Wrong Trousers and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Julian Nott) and The Trouble With Harry (Bernard Herrmann), Mathieu has crafted a delightfully amusing short animated special that plays to the strengths of both sets of characters, a sum that is appreciably greater than its cobbled-together parts.

Not to mention an intense craving for cheese …

 

Daria is back! And as feisty and authentic as ever

(image via EW)

 

I love Daria.

Granted while she was on TV in the ’90s into the Noughties, I was not exactly the core demographic – I was *cough* 32-37 at the time – but there was something about daria’s disdain for the superficial established order and the way she masterfully handled the insipid stupidity of the unthinking world around her, that really struck a chord with me.

As someone who endured a great deal of bullying at high school and who struggled to rise above it and respond to it in a way that was meaningful and reasserted who I was, I admired her ability to stick to all the detractors, naysayers and fools and to defend her well-defined sense of identity. (It took me considerably longer to get to the point where I knew innately who I was and was able to coherently and strongly articulate and defend it to all comers.)

 

 

So it thrills me immensely that Daria hasn’t lost her strong sense of self nor willingness to stand up for herself as time has passed with a new video from series co-creator Susie Lewis and character designer Karen Disher, which gives us updates on Daria Morgendorffer, her bestie Jane and the rest of the quirky, real-to-life characters from the show.

It’s fun, informative and reassuring that much has changed and yet not much too – that’s the way of life for most of us right? – and makes us wish that Daria: The Sequel could totally be a thing.

We’re not alone with EW, who featured the video, noting that that Lewis said “she’d love to bring Daria back to TV.”

Bring it on! I mean, you know, whatever …

Weekend pop art: Joey Spiotto’s pop culture Little Golden Books

(c) Joey Spiotto

 

My love for Little Golden Books knows no bounds.

A key part of my childhood, they are the stuff of joy and nostalgia, a reassuring touchstone that there are some great and wonderful things in this world that are inherently simple and uncomplicated, and intensely rewarding.

The only thing better than Little Golden Books is when someone like Joey Spiotto, a talented artist who I’ve featured to my inestimable joy on the blog before, takes this eminently elegant idea and furnishes it with brilliantly imaginative pop culture flourishes.

The best part is, if you’re in L.A. now until Saturday 22 April, you can see his work, Storytime 3, up close and enchantingly personal at Gallery1988 (East) and you can even prints of them if you like via the gallery’s website.

Childhood and pop culture mixed together? Sounds a perfect exhibition to me!

(source: Laughing Squid)

 

(c) Joey Spiotto

 

(c) Joey Spiotto

 

(c) Joey Spiotto

 

(c) Joey Spiotto

 

Where can you see it? Right here!

 

(c) Joey Spiotto

Saturday morning cartoons: The Funky Phantom

(image via YouTube (c) Hanna-Barbera/Warner Bros)

 

Show business has had a long and productive love affair with the axiom “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, happy to keep churning out variations on a theme, or even the same theme itself with minimal changes, if the viewers kept turning up to consume it.

Everyone is guilty of it, of course with everyone from Hollywood studios through to TV stations and comic books, happy to jump on the bandwagon and keep riding it until the wheels broke, but one of the foremost proponents of the art was Hanna-Barbera which for all its groundbreaking successes such as The Flintstones, the Jetsons and Scooby Doo, was always keen to take a basic concept and rework into all manner of likeminded permutations.

Case in point is The Funky Phantom (11 September 1971 – 2 September 1972), produced for Hanna-Barbera by Australia’s own Air Programs International, whose 17 episodes owed, in more ways than one, a substantial debt of creative inspiration to the far longer-running Scooby Doo (and apparently to a 1946 Abbott and Costello film The Time of their Lives, which features two Revolutionary Era-ghosts caught in, you guessed it, a clock).

With everything from roughly the same gender split of core characters to the fun mode of transport to the weekly mysteries and wise quips and aside, The Funky Phantom was quite the carbon copy of its more successful cousin, taking its creative mimicry even further by having the titular character, a Revolutionary Era-American patriot named Jonathan Wellington “Mudsy” Muddlemore, use the same voice as Snagglepuss (courtesy of Daws Butler), even down to the word “even” which punctuated the end of sentences.

That doesn’t detract from one minute from the fun and enjoyment to be had from the series, but it’s worth pointing out simply to illustrate that cannibalising, in the most flattering way possible, previously successful properties, was something that Hanna-Barbera, ever on the look out for another commercially successful idea, did remarkably well.

It didn’t lead to the same longevity as the source material – neither The Funky Phantom nor Speed Buggy nor the slew of other imitators from the studio lasted anywhere near as long as the big marquee series that made the studio’s name – but when you’re a young kid, like I was in the early to mid-1970s, you don’t really mind.

 

 

The Funky Phantom delivered up what I wanted in cartoons at that point:

  • Characters I liked – Skip Gilroy (Micky Dolenz) and Augie Anderson (Tommy Cook), who were in a love triangle with the beautiful April (Kristina Holland) and who, along with Elmo the Dog (Jerry Dexter) drove The Looney Duney all over the place, financial backing never disclosed, in search of adventure and mystery (thus opening the opportunity for endlessly creative storylines)
  • A fun, camp protagonist in Muddsy and his ghostly cat Boo who hid themselves in a grandfather clock in revolutionary Boston to escape British pursuers and never left dying while they waited and only being released when the The Looney Duney gang stumbled into the haunted mansion where the clock remarkably still sat (clearly not a gentrifying neighbourhood).
  • A cute, cheesy expository theme song that lays everything you need to know before the mystery sleuthing begins.
  • Some over the top silly situations, mostly due to over the top villains camply posturing their way through each episode and engaging in all manner of chases and ultimately ineffective terrifying of the kids (the bigger scaredy cat was Muddsy who was, believe it or not, actually afraid of ghosts; and yes it was pointed out to him time and again that he is one).

What is interesting as someone who loves comic books is that it was the print version adventures of The Funky Phantom that showed more creativity than the TV series.

Dispensing with the Scooby Doo-esque villains in a mask trope – one episode of The Funky Phantom (#3 “I’ll Haunt You Later”) even used the phrase “I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for you meddling kids!” – they tried a completely tack to drive the narrative, according to Wikipedia:

“In the 1970s, comic books of The Funky Phantom were released by Western Publishing and Gold Key Comics. The comics were both original stories as well as adaptations of some of the TV episodes. The stories in the comics, however, took a different turn from the TV episodes. While on the show, the “ghost” was always a villain in a mask (like Scooby-Doo), in some of the original comic stories, the villains would often turn out to be other ghosts from on or around the colonial era. (The show never addressed why it seemed that there were no other ghosts besides Mudsy and Boo.) The comics even did a twist on the series when the gang traveled back to colonial times via an erratic time machine, only to find out that the kids are now the ghosts (the machine could only transport spiritual matter) and Mudsy is once more inside his original flesh-and-blood body. Also, the comics introduced a new regular character who never appeared in the show. Priscilla Atwater, a ghostly matron from Mudsy’s time, who lusted after Mudsy and pursued him actively, although she tended to flirt with about any other ghost who came along.”

That burst of creative originality aside, The Funky Phantom was never a powerhouse of cutting edge storytelling but then was that ever really the point for it or many of Hanna-Barbera’s workhorse series?

They were designed as entertainment for kids on a Saturday morning pure and simple, and we cared not if it was thematically groundbreaking or if the backgrounds all looked the same, or whether The Looney Duney even looked like were driving on all four wheels thanks to its placement on said backgrounds; in truth, I, and countless other kids like me, just wanted to laugh, and have some precious non-school fun, something The Funky Phantom delivered in spades, and even after all these years, still manages to the delight of my still cartoon-crazy inner child.

 

It’s true, animated Mariah! All I Want For Christmas is You (teaser trailer)

(cover image courtesy Penguin Random House)

 

SNAPSHOT
According to the official press release, All I Want for Christmas Is You will center around a young Mariah (voiced by Breanna Yde), who wants a puppy named Princess for Christmas. But before Princess can be hers, she has to pet-sit Jack, described as “a scraggly rascal of a dog; in fact, the worst dog in the county!” (synopsis via Mashable)

All I Want For Christmas is … my two front teeth?

C’mon you can do way better than that!

How about an animated film based on the book All I Want For Christmas is You which is in turn based on the insanely successful modern Christmas classic, which launched itself into collective music consciousness, thereafter forever to remain, in the long ago heady days of 1994.

So compulsively listenable and so delightfully, compellingly Christmasy is the song that it makes sense that it’s been turned into a book and a film and who knows what other wonders down the track.

For now, we have Mariah Carey introducing the movie in its Christmas glory and you’ll be able to see what wanting your true love for Christmas looks like when All I Want for Christmas Is You doesn’t have an exact release date yet, it’s expected to premiere in all its festive glory on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD and On Demand just in time for Christmas this year.