Big, A-list star? Then what was he doing making all those cheapie Sherlock Holmes pictures at Universal-International?
This article from down under complains about celebrities and their vocal cords taking over the sweet, pristine world of animation:
Horton is a shining example of the "all-audience animated comedy", in which celebrity voices spearhead a teflon-coated combination of pop culture references for the adults (Horton, for instance, loves "the smell of bananas in the morning") and kiddie-friendly cute critters, manic slapstick and soft-serve moralising.
Anyone looking for a culprit can blame Robin Williams. The whole celebrity voiceover thing reached critical mass after the comic voiced the genie in Aladdin to worldwide success in the 1992 Disney film ... The elevation of celebrities to the sine qua non of animation is reaching its logical endgame in influencing the appearance of the films. Remember Shark Tale, in which the shark voiced by Robert De Niro had his trademark mole and Angelina Jolie's fish her puffy lips? ...
Actually, the die was cast for celebrity voices in animated films decades ago, when mainstream Hollywood execs ripped animated features from the hands of Disney old-timers and stopped making them the way Uncle Walt did.
The new posse in town wanted full-blown scripts instead of storyboards ("I don't get these drawings on cork board at all. I gotta see a screenplay!"). And they wanted writers with full WGA credentials to write them..
They also desired 24-karat movie stars to voice the words in the script. Sometimes it worked -- as with Mr. Williams in Aladdin. And sometimes it didn't -- as with Brad Pitt in Sinbad.
The Aussie scribe misses one major point: It's not about celebrity voices per-se, or scripted animated films, or anything else. It's about dragging animated features out of the sleepy backwater they occupied at Disney for decades, where a bunch of middle-aged story artists nobody had ever heard of holed up in second-floor rooms in the old Animation Building turning out features like Bambi, Peter Pan, 101 Dalmations, Jungle Book and the like.
Face it. Mainstream Hollywood execs have held sway over animated features since the 1980s, and they're going to make them pretty close to the live action model they know and are comfortable with. (John Lasseter and Brad Bird deviate somewhat from this norm.)
The new way isn't bad, necessarily. But it's certainly different from the old Disney model.