Friday, August 18, 2006
This piece in the LA TIMES holds much wisdom. I've felt exactly the same way for a long time... Chris Kaltenbach has it exactly right. I've never gotten what the deal is with big-name voice actors. Do they add lustre and bucks to the animated feature's box office tally? Here and there, maybe. But Brad Pitt didn't seem to push "Sinbad" over the top, now did he? And of course, Kaltenbach mentions Julia Roberts' magical presence in "Ant Bully." That certainly added twenty million to the bottom line. In the ancient times (twenty-plus years ago), NOBODY thought that getting a top-tier actor was a particularly great way to go. I never heard Woolie Reitherman say: "Hey! Let's get Harrison Ford to play the fox! He's hot, isn't he?" Today, however, getting a Numero Uno star seems to be a top priority. Once in a while it pays off (Mike Myers? Eddie Murphy?), and very occasionally it is genius (Robin Williams playing a blue genie? Worked like a dream). But most of the time, the high-priced talent adds little. (Julia wasn't the only big-foot actor who was on board the lead dirigible known as "Ant Bully.") To my mind, one of the great voice performances in an animated feature is Hans Conried playing Captain Hook. You can't get much better than Conried in that role, and I don't think it's ever been topped. But would Conried get hired for that part today? Doubtful. At the time he was just a great working character actor with a background in radio. Today, Captain Hook would probably go to some high profile A-lister who wouldn't do half as good a job. Maybe someday movie executives will get over their infatuation with casting bankable stars in animated films' voice parts, but I'm not expecting it to happen in MY lifetime. Or the lifetimes of my kids. Film execs are slow learners.
Posted by Steve Hulett at 10:06 AM