Friday, June 27, 2008

Top Ranked Animated Films

In anticipation of WALL•E, the cutest movie robot ever, I thought I'd give you my feelings on a list of top ranked animated films that appeared on the Yahoo! homepage about a week ago. The entire list is there, so I'm going to concentrate on the films I feel have been grossly neglected or overly praised.

First up: Happy Feet, coming in at #22. I was so excited for this movie. I love anthropomorphic animals in animation, I love tap dancing, and I love penguins. Penguins even look like traditional tap dancers with their little tuxedos. The animators even got Savion Glover, the love of my tap dancing life, to actually tap the part of Mumble through motion capture technology. So what went wrong? Well, to start with the movie did not come close to matching the emotion of that other penguin movie, March of the Penguins; or even the fun of Surf's Up (not that Surf's Up should be on this list, so I'm not complaining that it isn't). It was akin to a bad drag film. Good drag films (Kinky Boots, Rocky Horror Picture Show) are excellent; bad ones are beyond torturous. And Happy Feet was beyond torturous. Convoluted, long, and boring, it contained few characters anyone would really give a good damn about. And its messages of love, equality, and environmentalism were great notions but poorly examined. So why, in the name of all things holy, does it come before such classics as Mulan (#27), and Lady and the Tramp (#26)? Why is it even on this list?!

Next up: Toy Story. There is no way Toy Story should be only #14 on this list, being beaten by the likes of Cars (#7) and Shrek (#8) (and Shrek 2). Cars was a good animated film, but in terms of Pixar film hierarchy it was one of their more mediocre efforts. I loved it, but it didn't reach the emotional highs and lows, or the pure imagination, of Toy Story. There was no scene that rivaled the "Mrs. Nesbit" scene. And Shrek, though a wonderful and cliche subverting film, didn't have one of those either. Not to mention that Shrek 2, though the highest grossing animated film, didn't come close to matching Toy Story 2 in terms of content and deliverance. Toy Story 2 was one of the best sequels to a film ever, containing all that made the first movie brilliant and adding new -funny and heartwrenching- elements as well. So why does Shrek 2 beat out even the first Toy Story at #11, and Toy Story 2 is nowhere to be found on the list?!

Kung Fu Panda makes the #2 spot. I can't say much about that, as I haven't seen it yet. The "Skadoosh" of the previews doesn't exactly thrill me. But I can't help but feel as if this is the shine of the New taking over instead of an actual look at this film's content. I don't think it could possibly be better than Ratatouille (#6) or The Incredibles (#3), films that rival live-action "grown up" films in terms of dealing with more adult problems.

And Enchanted, a film that makes the #10 spot, shouldn't even be on the freakin' list. This is a movie with about 10 minutes of animated sequence. And it may be a wonderful movie, but 10 minutes of animation doesn't make for a Top Ranked Animated Film. A film that could have replaced this one would be Who Framed Roger Rabbit? That film is also left off of the list.

I do agree with Finding Nemo in the number 1 spot. And I do like how the top 10 is a mixture of different film studios instead of simply being a gay old romp in the Disney (or Disney affiliated) film archive. Spirited Away (#4), Nightmare Before Christmas (#9), these films deserve to be there.

But there are other films that were left off the list that deserve to be there as well. Instead of Over the Hedge (a movie I loved), how about Chicken Run? Where was The Triplets of Belleville? How about James in the Giant Peach instead of Enchanted, if Roger Rabbit was thought to be too adult? How about Monster House, which was raw and dirty and had characters that were more human (and dislikable) than most animated films have without those characters being the villain?

As with all lists of these kinds, there are always going to be controversies in the rankings; I'm not going to nitpick each film I think should have been ranked higher or lower, because it is personal choice instead of objective fact that make up a majority of our conclusions in matters like this. I'm not even going to get into what I think about The Simpsons Movie being #16, for instance. But as a consummate viewer of animated films, it was important for me to rant about this particular topic.


jjfs85 said...

Perhaps a good reason for the jumbled list is that it was compiled from Yahoo users' responses. No wonder it's so messed up - Yahoo has only like 10 users now, so they couldn't get a large enough sample to get a really complete list.

petpluto said...

Hey, I'm a Yahoo user!

And I see your point.