Animation is not a genre. It is an artform. Western is a genre. action is a genre. Animation can be anything. It can tell any story and be anything. (Next person to call it a genre gets punched in the face)
Two of the worst camps of people are:
- People that automatically dismiss animation as a children’s medium
- People that argue that film isn’t art because it’s the byproduct of multiple collaborators and not a singular vision
Which is ironic considering the process of making an animated film consists of a rapid succession of hand drawn images in a sequential order. Which is to say, every frame of an animated film is a work of literal art. And it might be the most important artform because as Bird put it, an animated film can be anything.
Not only is every genre available, animation affords artists the canvas in which to create anything. There’s always a level of suspension of disbelief when it comes to live action that animation never suffers from. Animation taps into the primordial part of our brains that separates the real and the unreal, the logic and the surreal.
We subconsciously understand that since real people aren’t involved, the rules are different. There’s no other art form that speaks to every generation and culture.
Because imagination is universal. And this list will be a celebration of the makers of imagination.
This is The 100 Greatest Animated Films Of All Time.
60. Fritz The Cat
“Porn but for kids!…it’s not for kids.”
Based on a series of books by underground comic legend Robert Crumb, Fritz the Cat was an extremely controversial comic about a cat doing extremely controversial things. It debuted in the mid 1960’s and proved incredibly popular amongst the “cool kids” and would eventually become a massive icon amongst the counterculture.
You would think a comic about a New York City cat that indulges in hedonism and free love would be the last thing Hollywood would produce but the 70’s were a wild and crazy time.
Riding the coattails of the wildly successful Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, Fritz the Cat was an enormous success despite being the only animated film in history to be labeled X by the MPAA.
It just goes to show, you can never underestimate an audiences desire to see a little pussy.
59. Kung Fu Panda 2
“Everybody was Kung Fu fighting. Except Jackie Chan who still only has less than five lines of dialogue.”
The first Kung Fu Panda was a pleasant surprise considering the last time Jack Black and Angelina Jolie teamed up for a Dreamworks animated film, they produced Shark Tale. To adequately explain why Shark Tale is so awful, I first have to explain what the X-treme Machine© is.
The X-treme Machine© was a device created in the 1990’s to either rebrand things that were unpopular among the youth or to extrapolate the coolness of a pre-existing thing.
- The X games
- Every single goddamn thing Sega produced
- Any advertising campaign designed to sell jeans
- Foods that couldn’t be less extreme if they tried
- Whatever the fuck DC was doing to Superman at any given time
- Every single beverage known to man
Companies would either slap the word extreme on one of their products in the hope that it would sell units or they’d rip off a product/character by throwing whatever was popular into the machine.
That’s how most video game and/or comic book creations were made. Sonic was the byproduct of throwing Mario into the machine and pulling that lever all the way back till it produced something.
Sometimes you get lucky and get a Sonic or knuckles but most times they’d over play their hand and end up with a Lobo or a Carnage.
Shark Tale is what happens when you throw Finding Nemo into the X-treme Machine©. It’s a piss poor attempt at trying to seem hip or relevant.
It’s terrible but Kung Fu Panda 2 isn’t but unfortunately I’ve run out of time to talk about its awesomeness.
Gary Olman is a kung fu fighting Peacock. That’s all you need to know.
58. Heavy Metal
“There was no way I was gonna walk around this place with my dork hanging out!”
Heavy Metal (or Métal Hurlot if you’re sassy) was a sci-fi magazine that specialized in giving a platform to underrated or hungry writers and artists. It was the birthplace of many a genius and produced some of the best genre work of the 20th century.
But it was for adults. It wasn’t afraid to tackle any subject matter or delve into stronger topic that kids simply would’nt understand
Which again, on paper, sounds like this would be the least adaptable thing this side of Don Quixote. It’s filled with nothing but sex, drugs, booze and more sex and naturally, Hollywood wanted a piece of that fat money cake
Whoever’s decision it was to turn the film into an anthology, definitely deserves a raise. Instead of trying to stretch out a story that was never meant to be long in the first place *cough* Heavy Metal 2000 *cough* they focused on bite sized narratives that kept things fresh while simultaneously honoring the spirit of the book.
Oh and the soundtrack fucks hard.
57. Howl’s Moving Castle
“It’ll make you HOWL with laughter. I warned you about the pun train.”
Considered by many to be the female equivalent to J.R.R. Tolkien, Diana Wynne Jones created multiple series’ of books including the Chrestomanci series, the Dalemark series and the one that caught Miyazaki’s eye–the Howl series.
Consisting of three books, the Howl trilogy is by far her most popular series. I would say it was this popularity that attracted Miyazaki to the project but I have a theory that he only did this because he couldn’t figure out a way to properly adapt Tales from Earthsea. So he gave the project over to his son and decided to pick this film after its original director (Mamoru Hosoda) left. The gamble payed off for him but his son got viciously attacked by critics, fans of the novel and even the author herself once it was finally released.
Moral of the story: don’t try and adapt things your much more talented father can’t figure out.
56. Robin Hood
“You know, there’s been a heap of legends and tall tales about Robin Hood. All different too. Well, we folks of the animal kingdom have our own version. It’s the story of what really happened in Sherwood Forest. “
Robin Hood is one of those stories that will always have a new iteration for the newest generation. Like Alice in Wonderland or A Christmas Carol, it’s been adapted so many times, it’s impossible to declare any one version the definitive version. There’s definitely terrible versions for those among us that are obsessed with writing lists and need to fill the ‘worst of ‘ slot but picking the best one is a tall order.
My answer has always been the 1973 animated version of the same name. Because unlike every other adaptation, this one is about animals. They all obviously stick to real humans to tell their version of the story but the 1973 version works because they’re animals. The villains are actual threats now and it’s infinitely sadder to see a young bunny get shook down for their saving money than it is a little (human) kid.
55. The Fox And The Hound
“This has nothing to do with Metal Gear Solid. Unfortunately.”
One of the oldest story archetypes, is the friendship/rivalry aka the Romeo and Juliet plotline. Where two friends become rivals or the inverse, two rivals become friends. It’s the backbone of every buddy cop comedy, sports film about two people squaring off and/or cheesy chick flick. Depending on the dynamic starts off, usually dictates the genre. Rivalry turned friends are usually comedies/ romance and friends turned enemies are usually dramas.
Notable examples are: The Social Network, The Prestige, The Count of Monte Cristo, and brilliantly subverted in Fight Club. There’s tons of great examples but close to the top of the all time greats is The Fox and The Hound. It’s a story telling device that really only works if you completely buy that their friends in the beginning and then watch in horror as the friendship destroys itself. Sometimes due to greed, sometimes due to lust but the best ones deal with something that’s always out of our control–our fates. Sometimes we’re born into a life that denies us what we want. Whether it’s because of religion, sexuality or societal norms, life doesn’t always allow a fox and a hound to be friends. It’s a hard lesson that not enough children’s films tackle.
“Shampoo commercial: the movie.”
The most successful animated films Disney has produced fall into two categories: historic figures or folktales based on the works of The Brothers Grimm. I’m no historian but as far as I know, Rapunzel wasn’t a real person, so by the process of elimination, that means The Brothers Grimm wrote about her and her stupid hair. Her hair is really dumb. I love the film but you really have to suspend disbelief to buy the premise. For starters, the shit would smell to high heaven. Secondly, she wouldn’t be able to move because of the weight and lastly and without sounding vulgar but does the spell only effect the hair on the top of her head or is Flynn in for a terrible surprise on their honeymoon?
These are the questions I have and if you know anything about the original versions of these stories (seriously, take a second to Google the original The Little Mermaid and Cinderella. How the fuck were these children stories?), It’s not out of the realm of possibility.[ed. note: I just googled it and rule 34 got me again]
53. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
“Back to the Future but replace the DeLorean with Marty chucking himself off of hills.”
There’s a million time travel films, in fact, this is the fifth adaptation of an novel by the same name, so for any film to distance itself from the pack, it has to do something really original. Primer decided to focus heavily on the science, Triangle and Timecrimes added a horror element and Looper created an entire mythology around the concept.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time doesn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to telling a time travel film. There’s no ingenious new method of time travel nor any twist to the formula. Instead, it focuses on character and drama. It’s just a really well written story that just happens to involve one of the oldest tropes.
“The sequel better include either Darkwing Duck, Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers or Tailspin.”
I mentioned previously that Disney hits homeruns when it comes to adapting well known stories but their original stories are extremely hit or miss. They say less than 2% of the population is blind and I guarantee that number rose a percentage after the release of Home on the Range. Disney should still have to pay reparations to anyone who saw that film 15 whatever the fuck years ago. It’s a animated tragedy.
One of the only films to actually work without the safety net of adaptation is Zootopia. Using the buddy cop film as a back drop to address issues of racism, bigotry, police corruption and social prejudices, Zootopia is not only relevant but important.
51. The Lego Movie
“Everything is awesome.”
How the fuck did this work? There’s no way this film should be good. It’s a film based on a toy that parents hate because stepping on them feels like it should be a torture device we “don’t” use in “Guantanamo Bay.” The bar was set at “well, It’s my kids like it.” And because Lord/Miller are the Rumplestilskin of weaving gold out of shit, it far exceeded any expectations.
Besides being enormously funny, it’s an ingenious satire. Riffing on everything from mindless consumerism to social conformity, this film takes aim at many targets and amazingly manages to hit them all.
When a certain character dies and then comes back as a ghost dangling from a string, I laughed so hard, Slushee came out of my nose. It’s a dumb ass joke but goddamn does it work like gangbusters.