The A.V. Club Takes The Ice Age Voice Cast to Task

Via: NY Daily News

The A.V. Club, as the serious, cultural  arm of The Onion is sometimes quite trite in their reviews of films. The latest Ice Age film is no exception, but what is noteworthy is the grilling the voice cast receives. Naturally they are all celebrities with no real voice-acting experience:

On paper, Continental Drift boasts a jaw-dropping voice cast, including but not limited to Jennifer Lopez, Patrick Stewart, Wanda Sykes, Aziz Ansari, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Nicki Minaj, Drake, and Alan Tudyk. But in practice, the overstuffed ensemble leaves the cast no room to distinguish themselves, and directors Steve Martino and Michael Thurmeier don’t seem interested in coaxing performances that might render their money stars less identifiable. With the help of some low-end boosting, Dinklage musters a decent amount of kid-appropriate menace—although he never does explain his gift for finding chunks of ice shaped like pirate ships—but Romano and Leary mainly sound bored, droning through their lines as if they’re simultaneously texting the contractors building the additions on their houses funded by their fat sequel paychecks.

Ouch! There is no punches being pulled there. Now we all know that celebrities being hired simply for being them is always a bad idea for a film (DreamWorks’ upcoming Smeckday features the voice talents of all people, Rihanna) but I can’t help but wonder whether we are in a bit of a bubble with this one.

As more and more large studio films use celebrity voice acting, there is bound to come a point where there will simply not be enough celebrities to go around. Second-rate talent will likely come in, and for most of the public, only the very best animation can make up for a poor voice.

Will we hit a point where star names can’t sell an animated property? Yes, we will. How far away that is though, will depend on how long the quality holds up in films like Ice Age. Professional voice actors  live and die by their vocal performances so while they may not have the name power that celebrities have, they are more than capable of matching them in abilities.

And as a bonus, here’s the best line from the article, right at the very end:

But the only person who earned their keep on Ice Age: Continental Drift is the MPAA flunky who shoehorned in the line, “Silly rabbit—piracy doesn’t pay!”

What Forbes Considers The ‘Animation A-List’

Via: Forbes.com

This managed to slip by me back in March. What is the ‘Animation A-List‘? Sadly it isn’t what I thought it was, which means it probably isn’t what you thought it was either. Nope, sadly it is a rather subjective list of the top “voice-actors” in the business. Did I mention that only celebrities, a.k.a. non-professionals were included? Well they’re not.

How was the list calculated? As follows:

To compile our list of the 10 actors whose animated films have earned the most at the box office over the last 10 years, we looked at the top-grossing animated films from the past decade using numbers from Box Office Mojo. We gave each star all of the money from each of his or her films.

So in effect, it’s the celebrities with the highest grosses that get the top spot, not necessarily the one who’s the most famous or the most talented.

Why use celebrities? Dorothy Pomerantz speculates that

Big names can definitely help a film at the box office. Just look at the Shrek movies. They starred Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy, actors who over the past few years have earned big salaries for their live-action work. Who knows how the films would have fared at the box office if they had been cast with unknowns?

O…K…So it was all to do with the voice-acting and not the animation, story or even plot itself? If memory serves me correctly, Disney did some very tidy sums at the box office with their movies before they brought in Robin Williams for the Genie, and they did that because Williams is such a unique performer, not because he was a celebrity.

I’ve written before about celebrity voice actors and while there are a few who are genuinely good, there are a lot who just do it for the paycheque. In reality, an actor’s voice is incredibly boring comapred to the whole. A professional voice-actor is exactly the opposite; they might not have the looks, but they can knock your socks off with their voices.

Posturing over, here is the actual list:

  1. Cameron Diaz
  2. Eddie Murphy
  3. Mike Myers
  4. Ray Romano (WTF?)
  5. Tim Allen
  6. Tom Hanks
  7. Ben Stiller
  8. Jack Black
  9. Albert Brooks
  10. Ellen DeGeneres
  11. Ed Asner