A Review of 2010 And My Favourite Film of The Year

Via: Cartoon Brew

With an upcoming hiatus over Christmas (because there’s not internet where I’m heading for the week), this may well be the last post of 2010, so it seems appropriate to have a glance over the past year and to list some of the best films that were released.

I’m pleased to say that 2010 was a great year for animated films in general. There were some rock-solid performers from the big guns, but also plenty of excitement to be had from the indie releases too. There are some who say that this year will be the year of the animated film gaining widespread acceptance among adults and Hollywood, but that’s a bit like the “year of the Linux desktop”. It’ll happen but not in a big bang kind of way.

The good news is that we are well on the way to achieving that goal. This past year saw a great release from DreamWorks that was highly regarded as a great film for both kids and adults, and there wasn’t a fart joke in sight! Toy Story 3 made it socially acceptable for adults to cry openly at the cinema in droves and Despicable Me (once considered an outsider) brought new life the market with an almost sleeper-like performance with lots of word of mouth helping it to become the success that it is.

Besides those high points of the year, there was much excitement in the indie sector. Bill Plympton released his much-awaited feature film, Idiots and Angels and is currently in the race for an Oscar with both it and the accompanying short, The Cow Who Wanted to Be A Hamburger.

Other indie films that got a lot of attention include My Dog Tulip and The Illusionist. Unfortunately I have yet to see either, but from what I have read, they are both extremely good films that just happen to be animated.

Naturally there were some stinkers in 2010 that shall go unnamed out of kindness, but you may well be able to guess which ones they are. It is heartening to know, however, that people are much more aware of the differences between what is a good film and what is not. The quality of the animation is not something that people/parents may have considered in years past, but with the bar set so high by the likes of Pixar, people/parents are much more aware that they too can enjoy a good, animated film. So while we may be seeing horrible movies for years to come, we can at least look forward to many more great ones.

So after that super quick review of the year, what is my favourite film of 2010. Well, that would happen to be the one I wrote about way back in April and what also happened to be my first daily post on the blog. It is of course, How To Train Your Dragon, which I will admit left me pretty gobsmacked in the cinema. It was such a breakthrough from DreamWorks to see that they could pull off a serious film in the Pixar vein and succeed. The film’s fantastic success was almost certainly due to the people spreading the word of mouth, which is proof that if you make a great film, you don’t necessarily need all the advertising you think you do.

As for the rest, there is not much point to making a list as there are so few, suffice to say that I enjoyed every (animated) film I saw this year. Here’s to next year and the hope that the best is yet to come.

My Favourite Christmas TV Specials

Via: IGN

OK, yes, I mentioned some yesterday, but those were live-action specials, not the animated kind.

When it comes to animation, there is invariably the holiday special because, well, kids don’t notice, but adults (and networks) do. They are inevitably set around Christmas time of the year and may involve either an escapade based around the presents or one based around Santa.

Sadly a lot of them are somewhat formulaic although when it comes to the whole concept, there’s not a lot of ways you can deviate from the expected.

The Simpsons gives us a great Christmas story in the ‘Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire’ which also happened to be the premiere episode way back in 1989. Instead of the usual kids-and-Santa focused antics, it very much laid out the fact that Homer had to struggle his way through Christmas, including taking a job as a department store Santa. This was certainly a deviation from the norm and is worth of a lot of praise for exploring a fact that is rather glossed-over in this country.

On a side note, there is the other Matt Groening Christmas film, Olive, the Other Reindeer which although very much simpler in form than The Simpsons, also contains little nuggets of adult humour. It’s also worth checking out if you happen to find it on TV over the holidays.

As for my favourite Christmas special, well, that one would be Futurama. “Xmas Story” is rife with all the usual quirks that Futurama has become known for. Being set in the year 3000, Santa is actually a robot who’s sensors have been set to high and thus everyone is judged to be ‘naughty’ and is killed on sight.

The episode does go off in a whole load of silly directions with the concept (including Fry indulging in a bit of Harold Lloyd-esque clinging to a giant clock) but in the end, it epitomises the whole idea of Christmas bringing people together and being thankful for what you’ve got.

Well, looking a that list, it’s fair to say that it is pretty much completely dominated by Matt Groening. He has a monopoly on my favourite Christmas shows! Well, no he doesn’t, there are dozens of specials aimed specifically at kids but I cannot recall them all at this point of the morning. Perhaps next year I can list off my favourite cartoon Christmas specials instead.

My Favourite Christmas Films: The Snowman

[vimeo=http://vimeo.com/2647879]

Yes, ’tis the season and as we all know, one of the best things about Christmas (at least in Ireland) is that there are always tons of great movies, shows and other pieces of erstwhile entertainment that is never shown at any other time of the year. Besides the usual Christmas movies like Mary Poppins and Back to the Future, there is always the venerable Christmas Special. Of the TV shows out there, the greatest are always broadcast with certainty. Morcombe and Wise, your favourite soap opera and of course, the greatest of all, Father Ted.

Christmas is always a great time for animation fans too. Seeing as a huge majority of mainstream (and not so mainstream) animated films are kid-friendly and with plenty of kids at home around the holidays, you can be guaranteed to find some lovely films being broadcast. There is always a good selection of premieres but also plenty of favourites too. For the remainder of this week, I’ll be focusing on Christmas films because, well, there’s not much else to talk about is there?

One of my all-time favourite Christmas films is the version of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman. Irish people are incredibly familiar with this film partly because for years (maybe even still), An Post ran a Christmas ad based on it.

If you are not familiar with the film, it’s a great piece of animation and storytelling produced by the English TV station, Channel 4. It tells the tale of a young boy who creates a snowman one day and the adventures the two engage in once he comes to life, such as making a piece of toast, and dressing up in the parent’s clothes. The film’s most memorable sequence involves the two flying over the English countryside to the sounds of “We’re Walking in the Air” as they travel to visit Santa Claus.

It’s a fantastically simple film (most likely because it is based on a children’s book) and although it clocks in at around half an hour or so, it is perfect in length.

Interestingly enough, there is no dialogue in the film save for the aforementioned song. Thus, the characters are very much left open to interpretation by the viewer with the bulk of the characterization being handled by the animation itself, which retains the pencilly look from the original book. There are some dramatic scenes that are all the more fascinating in that they were created without any computers at all.

The film was made 28 years ago in 1982 and has gotten to the point where kids who originally enjoyed it back then are starting to enjoy it now with their own kids. As a result, the film has a perennial quality among the Irish and British populations. The fact that is was produced by a TV station ensures that it is broadcast every year.

Quick Note: The ‘Lightning McQueen’ Lawsuit

Via: MousePlanet

There was an important legal ruling last week that is certainly an important one in the world of animation, namely that Pixar did not rip-off the character of Lightning McQueen from some race driver named Mark Brill.

Why would any animator be concerned about a ruling between a hugely successful studio and a race driver that they never heard of before? Well, for one, Brill alleged that Pixar had blatantly plagiarised the design of his actual race car, and as a result, he felt entitled to damages resulting from misappropriation of his intellectual property (i.e., the car).

Thankfully, the lawsuit has been tossed out at the first hurdle and saves everyone a whole lot of consternation and energy as a result. The important point is that the court used a test devised for a lawsuit from the early 1990s, when Vanna White (of Wheel of Fortune fame) sued Samsung in the famous “robot with a blonde wig” lawsuit, where the court devised a method of determining whether or not the average person in the street could differentiate between the affected party and the resemblance.

In the Cars case, the court ruled that

a fictional, talking, driver-less red race car with the number 95 on it cannot be construed as a likeness of a driver of a similarly coloured/numbered race car

Once again, the case highlights the lengths that some people believe they can go to in order to protect their ‘likeness’. This is an important issue for animators where it is often common for them to lampoon and parody famous (or infamous) people. Being aware of the freedoms and limitations of doing so are well worth keeping in mind.

Anomaly Appraisal: Tangled

Note: This is pretty long (1600+ words) analysis of the film. if you’re looking for a much shorter, concise critical review, head on over here to read my friend Emmett’s blog for his thoughts.

Yesterday I treated you all to a review of the film that was written by my girlfriend who has much superior writing skills to myself. Today, you are treated to my poorly worded yet strangely compelling one!

Various other reviews have focused extensively on the film’s troubled gestation; the sidelining of Glen Keane, the re-working of the script, the re-titling of the whole thing, etc, etc. Naturally there was a lot of concern among animation folks and fans that the resulting film would either be a mishmash of styles or a complete load of garbage that was simply pushed out in order to recoup at least some of the costs the project has swallowed.

Thankfully, Tangled is far from the worst case scenario, after all, Disney has put out far inferior films that were completed without any production hiccups. The only caveat to this review is that the projector failed during the screening and we missed approximately 5 minutes or so of footage, but overall, i don’t think it affected my opinion of the film, despite what I tweeted at the time.

So, without further adieu, here’s my comprehensive review of Disney’s Tangled.

The overall plot of the film is a welcome deviation from the traditional fairytale. Sure, Disney has always deviated a little bit from the established story, but in this case, it is almost a re-telling of the classic, which, in fact, works in the films favour in that it has allowed it to follow a different path.

Not necessarily a better path mind you, sadly the writers fell back on the old ‘magic’ chestnut with Rapunzel’s hair. A plot device such as that can be a great boon to a story (as every Harry Potter fan will know) but when it takes a sideline to the main plot, it must be used carefully to avoid appearing like a prop that the writers leaned on when they got into a tight spot with the story. Sadly, this is the case with Tangled, there was one scene in particular (that I will not mention here) that could easily have been resolved without the use of magic. While the scene may work well with kids, as an adult, I could see the resolution the second it began. It does not necessarily smack of laziness, but it does make me wonder why the writers took the easy way out. Perhaps the director’s commentary will provide an answer.

On the whole, the plot is fluid, with an imperceptible transition between the two protagonists backgrounds until the ultimate, if painful, introduction in the tower. Once this has occurred, the tale takes on the traditional film outline with the two characters attempting to achieve a goal while at the same time avoiding the evil Mother Gethals and Maximus the Horse. They get into some adventures, have a laugh here and there, engage in some thrilling action before the ultimate climactic conclusion to the entire endeavor.

What Tangled excels at is the way it has managed to weave modern pop-culture references into the tapestry of the fairytale. Sure they will date over time and in 10 years we may well wonder why on earth they seemed like a good idea at the time, but for right now, they’re good for an enjoyable laugh.

The story as a whole is appreciatively compelling enough to warrant a viewing, although it is the animation where the film really shines.

As smothered in 21st Century CGi as it is, Tangled is rooted firmly in the 2-D past of the Disney films of yore. Presumably that was the aim from the beginning, and thankfully it seems that the team has pulled it off in remarkable fashion. Yes, the colours are eye-popping, although they are well within the range of both the transcendent kaleidoscope that is Yellow Submarine and the sugar rush that is Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs.

The quality of the animation itself is nothing short of amazing. There is just the right amount of quality and comedy that is often so hard to get right. It is a real shame that none of the animators on this film have been highlighted for the individual achievement categories at the upcoming Annie Awards. I think that Tangled is the first movie to make a significant advancement in the field of human CGI animation since The Incredibles.

I would have to say that the direction was overall OK, there’s nothing outstanding about it although the cinematography is astonishing. The richness and expanse of the sets are apparent throughout the film, especially the sweeping camera movements over the castle.

When it comes down to it, however, the one thing that must be perfect (at least for me) is the characters. In Tangled we have a rarity in a Disney film in that there is no outright bad guy. Sure, Mother Gothels has her own selfish agenda, but she is quite unlike, say, Jafar, who has no qualms about outright killing Aladdin. Throughout the film she is portrayed as a vain woman who is also capable of incredibly conniving deeds and straight up lying in order to maintain the status quo. Overall, I found her to be an acceptable opponent for our heroes although her ultimate demise left much to be desired. Again, like the earlier scene, it was far to easy to spot it coming and the way it finished left me feeling somewhat cheated as the result was not what I expected. it would have been better to have left it to my own imagination like every other Disney death.

The comic relief characters, namely Maximus the Horse and Pascal the Chameleon, are your usual Disney characters. Maximus got plenty of laughs and is perhaps the standout character from the film. he is inventive, determined and extremely loyal.

 

Onto our male antagonist, Flynn Rider. In fairness, I liked this guy a lot better before I discovered that the guy doing his voice is Chuck from NBC’s Chuck. Nothing against the guy, but again, it seems like a ‘celebrity’ was found to fit the character rather than a professional voice-actor. In the end, Levi’s performance is fine in that there are no glaring failings.

The character of Flynn Rider himself is an interesting one. Here is this dreamer guy who just happens to be a thief for a living. While the film tries to imbue him with this sense of deep-down righteousness, it takes a long time in the film for this to become apparent. he has a sense of truth about him, even if he does not immediately display it.

As for our main protagonist, I’m afraid there is not much to say that hasn’t already been said. Yes, she is your typical female teenager. She can be whiny, obnoxious, prone to mood swings and unsure of herself although again, by the end of the film, she has become a much stronger person.

I regret to report that she still displays a lot of the usual characteristics of other Disney ‘princesses’. Some have decried the fact that she ‘needs’ a man to rescue here and provide her with a fair amount of her eventual happiness. While this does not necessarily cripple the film, it is disheartening to know that Tangled fails to strike out on its own. I can understand that deviating from the established formula can be incredibly risky, but at this point in time, not doing so can certainly undermine any critical credibility that has been built up.

Interestingly enough, I did not hear Rapunzel’s name mentioned until well into the film. Was this intentional? I’m not sure, but it did make her a somewhat mysterious character for a good chunk of the film, or maybe I missed when it was said waaaay at the beginning.

Naturally, the hair plays a large part in the film, being used as a major plot device. It does not dominate Rapunzel’s character entirely, but it does heavily influence it for the majority of the film. Only at the end can it be said that she truly breaks free from it and we,as an audience, can visualize what she is like as a real person. Such a circumstance is not unexpected, the film is, after all, based on the whole concept of the hair to begin with.

As typical as the film is with the love theme, it is nice to see a character have to come to terms with what it actually means. Plenty of other Disney films have been based on the premise that the girl simply falls in love. Here, Rapunzel clearly has to discover what it is mean to fall in love with someone. Flynn provides the suitable candidate and the scenes where Rapunzel slowly learns the pitfalls and rewards that come along with love are certainly heart-warming.

Overall, I liked Tangled as an entertaining film. I naturally do not consider it to be one of the greatest Disney films, not by a long shot. However, in light of the film’s rocky development it certainly exceeds the standard Hollywood fare. I can only imagine if Glen Kean’s original vision had been followed what I would be writing about today. From what I understand, we would have been watching a much darker, rendition of the tale that may well have provided a more robust and distinct storyline.

There’s no point contemplating what might have been though, perhaps with the second flick to come out of the venerable studio under the watchful eye of John Lasseter we may see the stunning return to form we have all hoped for these past few years. Until then, Tangled will do just fine.

Where Have All the Writers Gone: A Tangled Review

Editorial note: This is the first of two reviews I will be posting for Tangled. It is written by my girlfriend, Alicia, who came away from the film with some pretty strong opinions. I will be posting my review tomorrow. Please note that there are spoilers aplenty below.

Having gown up on Disney films, perhaps I hold them to higher standard. By now, we all know that Disney, more often than not, has good luck sticking to a relatively standard plot equation; though a little trite, I am generally okay with this. A female character, human or animal, usually privileged in some way, encounters an unlikely male character, usually less privileged in some way (every so often the role of privilege may reverse). They form a gradual bond while entangled (no pun intended) in an adventure containing a few musical interludes, and fall in love in the end. We see this in Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Cinderella, etc.

Tangled, while it has all of the traditional makings of a classic Disney movie, lacks a definitive twist of originality to captivate an audience already familiar with this timeworn plot sequence. A Repunzel theme certainly had potential, but Disney apparently forgot to hire writers…oops. The characters were underdeveloped, the verbal exchanges were banal and anticipated at best, and the jokes fell short. Not one scene or sequence of events went by unpredicted. I hate to be a spoiler (but trust me you would have seen this coming) the one scene I simply will never be able to forgive finds Repunzel and Flynn Ryder about to drown in a cave filling with water because it is to dark to find a way out. We suffer though about 3 to 5 minutes of unachieved “suspense” while Repunzel conveniently forgets that her magic hair glows. Surprise! She blandly remembers (never would have guess it…) and they make a lackluster exit from the cave. Though the film’s contentt began to improve towards the end, the film lacked an ounce of true drama that could fully engross the viewer.

Furthermore, while I am generally a sucker for musical sequences Tangled’s songs left much to be desired. A properly done musical sequence in an animated film generally flows so well with the film and/or plot that you do not notice that it is different from the rest of the film. While watching Aladdin, for instance, we do not question why he is singing while running from the guards or riding the magic carpet. We just accept it. In Tangled, however, the songs are forced and the audience pays the price. The tunes aren’t catchy, the words aren’t memorable, and every time a character begins singing the viewer is drawn away from what is actually occurring in the film and becomes cognizant of the fact that singing in such situations is unnatural. I found that the CGI artwork further enhanced this problem. It’s a case of the uncanny valley. The more realistically the characters resemble the human form, the less realistic and more imposturous they seem, as they will never truly be an actual human form; just one more factor distracting me from an already weak storyline.

But, alas there was one glimmer hope…the closing credits (and not because it meant that I could leave). The artwork during the credits was amazing! It was a throwback to a more traditional style that did not go unappreciated, truly beautiful. If only the full film was drawn in this manner, I may have been willing to overlook some of the plot’s shortcomings.

All in all I found Tangled to be disappointing an uninspiring. It did not live up to what it could have/should have been. As such, I would like to close with a note to an old friend:

Dear Disney,

Please stop resting on your laurels and attempt to engage your audience. I liked you once. Maybe it could happen again.

Sincerely,

Alicia

Go Visit the Animation Backgrounds Blog!

WB Road Runner BackgroundA sooooooper short post today because I highly recommend checking out the (now sadly on hiatus) Animation Backgrounds blog that’s chock full of original backgrounds from just about every era of animation that you can think of. It’s only after being reminded about it (by Eoghan Kidney and the good folks at Caboom) that I went back for another glance through and was thoroughly amazed by the quality of some of the stuff on there. It is well worth checking out and with three years of posts to dig through, you know there’s lots of fantastic posts just waiting to be discovered. 🙂

The Upcoming Yogi Bear Film (I Don’t Like It, I swear)

Via: Cartoon Brew

Normally I try to stay away from speculation about a film, especially one that looks like its gonna be a stinker. However, sometimes this principle can be incredibly hard to stick to and I’m afraid today is one of those days.

What film has pushed me over the edge? Why it’s none other than Yogi Bear.

For months now we’ve been seeing more and more clips of this film being leaked (or indeed, promoted) on the internet. Cartoon Brew (and it’s readers) have been almost visceral in their contempt for the film. I don’t blame them either because those guys have some serious passion for cartoons, and seeing a classic one such as Yogi Bear get treated in such a way is disheartening to say the least.

This post isn’t so much a statement of my thoughts as a collection of other’s thoughts. (You probably don’t want to hear my thoughts, which delve waaaay to much into existentialism for this time of the morning anyway).

As mentioned above, most mainstream sites and bloggers have held no punches in their commentary. The main aspect that irks them is the hybrid nature of the film and the way that Hollywood has deviated from the nature of the original cartoons, focusing instead on fart jokes and other low-brow attempts at comedy, which, as a European, have never held that much sway with me to begin with.

As ever, the excellent, Hanna-Barbera blog, Yowp, has some great points relating to the direction that Dan Ackroyd and Justin TImberlake (how he got this gig I do not know) received during filming. If anything, I’d say this has as much to do with the quality of the film as anything else. Ackroyd may well be able to do an excellent impression of Jellystone’s most famous resident, but if he’s told to go in a different direction entirely, then that kind of ruins everything.

As a fan of classic cartoons, I know it can be extremely hard to see someone almost take a wizz all over your childhood memories. What people seem to forget is that they are exactly that, memories, and everyone has different ones. In the grand scheme of things though, if you’re making a film, there’s more often than not some executive breathing down your neck, and a film like Yogi Bear reeks of their meddling. There have been cases in the past of writers disowning their scripts as a result of the finished film being almost entirely different from what they originally wrote. That’s not what I’m saying necessarily happened to Yogi Bear, but it is a possibility.

At the end of the day, Yogi Bear was made to cash in on nostalgia, which as J.J. Sedelmaier has noted (sorry, can’t locate the source) is a powerful aphrodisiac. There’s nothing we can do except not going to see it, and from what i can gather, I am not alone in that sentiment.

The Whole Concept of ‘Primetime’ As A Going Concern

This morning I read over on ToonZone about the [Adult Swim] block of programming taking up an extra hour, meaning it will now begin at 9pm every evening. The blog post makes some goo points about the various challenges inherent in such a move and discusses the possible cannibalization of viewers from Cartoon Network.

I personally don’t think it will matter all that much, although it is a strange move. [Adult Swim] viewers are normally male, under the age of 25 and are presumably relatively intelligent. Being in the same category, I know that I watch a growing amount of programmes online after their original broadcast.

This got me thinking, does the entire concept of “primetime television” even exist any more? I know plenty of people who record hit shows like Dexter, Weeds and pretty much anything on HBO to a DVR to watch later. I know I watch tons of stuff through Netlfix and to a lesser extent, Hulu and with so much content available online afterwards (legally or otherwise) there is a growing cohort of viewers for whom the schedule of the broadcaster means little or nothing.

My concern when it comes to the [Adult Swim] decision is whether or not the added hour will be filled with meaningful programming. Sure, an hour or two of Family Guy and American Dad is great, but when you’re tacking on another hour just to broadcast re-runs if syndicated shows rather than re-runs of original shows, then you’re heading down the path of becoming a ghost network. A better move would have been to increase their budget, perhaps let them make longer format shows or to actually hire some animators instead of relying heavily on interns.

If the time of broadcast does not factor into [Adult Swim] viewers plans as much as other networks, then adding an extra hour may not have the same affect that it would have had say, five years ago. I might be wrong and it may still work, but I do wonder whether the tech-savyness of the audience figured in their decision.

The Seven Creative Principles of Pixar

A short post today, and that’s because you’ll want to head on over to the downright fantastic Scribble Junkies blog, which, in case you didn’t know, is the collaborative spawn of indie king Bill Plympton and Patrick Smith, who happens to be a man of many, many hats within the animation community.

Long story short, on Friday, Patrick posted the aforementioned 7 principles and they are well worth reading, understanding and learning as they represent the driving force behind the most successful animation studio of the last 20 years. They’re a good lesson for anyone really, as they can apply to any project your working on, not just an animated film.

It’s absolutely true, so head on over to see what John says about it and the rest of the principles, you will not regret it.

For me, the pick of the bunch is number 3:

Quality is a great business plan. Period.

He’s bang on the button with that one and it’s paid off handsomely for him thus far.

A Look Back at David OReilly’s Octocat

Via: David OReilly.com

With his latest masterpiece, The External World, (that I have yet to see!) currently gaining momentum in advance of its US premiere next month at the Sundance Film Festival, I thought to take a look back at OReilly;s first major break into the international stage. No, not Please Say Something, his excellent short film that was showered with awards, his other series of shorts, Octocat.

If you remember, David released the series under the pseudonym RANDY PETERS, who was supposed to be a nine year old kid living in Chicago using MS Paint to create the films. I remember thinking two things at the time: first of all, damn, that is one ugly cat and secondly, kudos to the kid for making something like that. Sure it isn’t smooth, flawless animation but I’m 23 (at the time, ah, to be young again) and I can’t do anything like that!

Of course, the thrilling conclusion revealed David as the source behind it all. If you haven’t seen the whole adventure, I highly recommend, nay, command you to watch the entire series compiled together below before continuing on,

As you can probably tell, there are certainly different parts to the story (you might also be able to tell that the voice, and that the cup of tea is a dead giveaway for being Irish) but the over-arching theme is that Octocat is looking for his parents.

The dramatic conclusion is perhaps one of the greatest twists I’ve seen in a film because it plays very much on the difference between what the audience expects and what it receives. Overall, it’s a very melancholy film, there is mixture of excitement, wonder, anguish and ultimate disappointment all in a few short minutes.

The films were a great calling card and certainly got OReilly noticed among the international animation community and beyond. It’s creative ideas like this that can help make someone stand out from the crowd and certainly helped David make a name for himself, which ensured that he had an audience all ready to go for Please Say Something.

Although some people will naturally feel deceived, imagine if they weren’t? Imagine if David had released Octocat under his own name. There’s a good chance it might have garnered a few views and some critical praise from ‘experts’ but the average Joe Schmoe would still not have a clue. Attributing the work to a nine year old, David picked up on the willingness to share and tell others about something that seems genuinely amazing. “A nine year old made THAT? It’s awesome!” rather than “Oh, it’s just another short film that I can’t understand and it’s got some shitty animation that a kid could do”. As I was writing this, I had to go back and check out the comments on the original Cartoon Brew post, and to my non-surprise, they were all positive, with many people gunning for “Randy”.

I think sometimes as adults we tend to get too focused on what we consider the be the ‘standard’ for good animation. In Octocat, the animation does tend to play second fiddle to the story, at least until the end when the roles reverse. David says as much in the blog post that revealed the truth behind the series.

I’m sure I’ll be accused of misleading people again, but I won’t apologize for that. Why? Because you’ve all proved one vitally important point: audiences don’t need polished, slick animation to find a story engaging. They are happy to follow the worst animated, worst designed and worst dubbed film of all time, and still laugh and cry and do all the things you do watching a so-called “high end” film. Its amazing, I’ve never been so excited about independent animation.

He’s right, too. We watched every new segment as it was released because we wanted to see what happened to the poor Octocat. Would he find his parents, what other adventures would he set off on, and most importantly (at least for me), would he have another cup of tea.

The old saying that there are some people out there who are naturally lucky is sort of true, but that’s only because they make their own luck most of the time. David OReilly managed to succeed with Octocat because he took a chance and did something that no-one else had done before (no, not deceive the audience, just have them pre-load themselves with certain expectations). His success since then is proof that a bit of inventiveness and some skill can go a long way to progressing your career.