Commentary 30 Jul 2009 07:18 am


- The news screamed out this week that The Secret of Nimh (otherwise known at Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH) would be redone by Paramount. Obviously, this wasn’t the film that would save animation, and the new version won’t help much either. It’ll end up a cg/Live Action combination equal to that Guinea Pig
movie that just opened to big box
The old fashioned Secret of NIMH from Don Bluthoffice success.

We’ll have cgi rats and mice running around a live action farm environment chatting away. The film will be written and directed by Neil Burger who did that smash success, The Illusionist, a couple of years back.

One wonders how Don Bluth feels about this. We’ve already had The Chipmunks reanimated in some horrible incarnation of the original Format Films’ animated characters, and we’ve seen Scooby Doo, Garfield and Rocky & Bullwinkle turned into cgi clones of the definitely 2D characters. All terrible movies.

Now we get to witness serious feature animated films reworked into cg monstrosities. Perhaps Disney will take the cue and do a cg/Live Action version of Lady and the Tramp or Snow White or, dare we hope, Fantasia.

I read today about that the “auteur” Zhang Yimou is reamking the Coen Bros. film, Blood Simple. I wonder if any purists would complain if they decided to turn some Live Action gems into cg films. How about Citizen Kane? or Gone With the Wind? The Wizard of Oz is just waiting for the call. After all Tim Burton is doing Alice in Wonderland, and Zemeckis is
crowing about The Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey doing 10 different roles. (Is there any film that Jim Carrey can’t do?)

Word has also come that Universal is about to make Dr. Seuss’ book The Lorax into a 3-D CG animated feature. After the modest financial success of the Blue Sky feature, Horton Hears a Who, why shouldn’t Universal jump into the ring? It has to be better than DePatie-Freleng’s version. At least it’ll stretch the delightful book even longer.
The Lorax

Are there ANY original ideas out there? Has the entire Hollywood world gone so vapid that they can’t come up with anything original?

But then this isn’t just the case with Hollywood features; Broadway is going down the same road. There are dozens of shows coming to Broadway that are reworked movie scripts. Everything from 9 To 5 to Cry-Baby have come and gone on the once great thoroughfare (now parking mall, courtesy of Mayor Bloomberg) Broadway. Disney has Cry-Baby the movie
paved the way for many others; The Little Mermaid
is about to close.

Word that 101 Dalmatians, the Musical has been touring everywhere. It’s not a Disney show, but they’re trying to play off the Disney cache. But then, it’s not a Broadway show either, even though “Broadway” is mentioned numerous times on their website. 15 live dalmatians on a theatrical stage; imagine the fun.

It’s obvious that animated films are the last place to find any original thought. Up and Wall-E from Pixar, Shrek and Kung Fu Panda from Dreamworks, Ice Age and The Fantastic Mr. Fox from Blue Sky.

Then the Studios can make live action/animated versions of these films, then Broadway can do their shows. Oh, wait. Shrek is already failing on Broadway. There’s always room for those Madagascar penguins.

Hopefully, Independent animated features will get into the act: the musical Triplettes of Belleville is perfect for Broadway, and I can already see the musical version of Waltz with Bashir and Bill Plympton can try to compete with Mamet with Idiots and Angels.

After writing this, I caught the Cartoon Brew feature about this very thing. I guess it’s enough to catch your breath if you love animation.

9 Responses to “Redos”

  1. on 30 Jul 2009 at 7:32 am 1.bill said …


    I know you were joking, but the idea of a live action Lady and the Tramp made my blood run cold. It is too perfect an idea for a zero-imagination suit at Disney to propose.

    Just add some bodily function jokes to the plot, and give the Siamese cats a more “radical” attitude” (as well as the pound dogs), and you’ve got a huge opening weekend!

    I hope no Disney execs read your splog.

  2. on 30 Jul 2009 at 7:53 am 2.Jason said …

    Citizen Kane in 3-D CG with Rats! What’s the point. :(

  3. on 30 Jul 2009 at 7:59 am 3.Pierre said …

    And then there’s Julie Taymor’s Spiderman musical currently being prepped for production.

    I love Julie Taymor’s work. Even before The Lion King, she was combining music, theater, and puppetry. Her film work has the benefit of being at least interesting.

    However, the thought of a Spiderman musical just sends shivers up my spine. I hope to be proven wrong here but this idea just seems so wrong….

  4. on 30 Jul 2009 at 9:02 am 4.Stephen Macquignon said …

    Now on Broadway for as long as we can milk it for every thing its worth,
    Or maybe Michael you can take “Lye Lye Crocodile” do a 3-D CG version;
    While it is playing at the movies; Start casting for the play hell it has a great score why not!

  5. on 30 Jul 2009 at 10:22 am 5.Dan Caylor said …

    I think a good compliment to this post is Keith Lango’s recent post. Haven’t seen the Brew thing yet, heading there now…

  6. on 30 Jul 2009 at 6:18 pm 6.Charles Brubaker said …

    I actually like the DePatie-Freleng “Lorax” special. Yeah, the music was corny but it was otherwise well done for a seventies animation. The designs were very faithful to the original book.

    Maurice Noble did the layouts for the Lorax special, his rare DFE contribution.

  7. on 30 Jul 2009 at 11:02 pm 7.Dana said …

    I read Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH in school and I remember being very disappointed in the movie. If they make a CG adaptation of the book I wouldn’t necessarily be upset, but what would be the point of a remaking the Don Bluth film?

  8. on 31 Jul 2009 at 4:14 pm 8.Tom Sito said …

    Wha? you didn’t like UnderDog the Movie? Or Boris & Natasha with Jason Alexander?

    p.s. Confirming Mr Brubaker, Ted Geisel was quoted one time saying he felt DFE stayed more faithful to his style than Chuck did.

  9. on 01 Aug 2009 at 3:24 pm 9.JaneD said …

    It’ll be nice to see someone try to put Nimh on the screen properly. The bluth “film” was a travesty of bad taste.

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