Animated films; the form of entertainment that people use when they objectively look at animation.
To the populace, an animated film with a giant budget and a contained story that has to be told in a given amount of time is the best way to present the craft of animation. Animated TV shows could get away with being cheap because they're the soulless byproduct of an industry, but not films. No, no, no. Not with Pixar around who always thinks about the art and never about the money! (although this state of mind is slowly dying out with the advent of Cars 2) And with animation studios constantly competing with each other in order to make the next film that will be as great as Disney or Pixar, animated films have become a profitable business.
At least most of the time, because for every well-made cartoon with a budget over several million dollars, there are probably like five cheaply made movies that were made with a budget that couldn't get you a Happy Meal from McDonalds. These are the movies that are usually forgotten by the wayside. This movie was one of those movies.
Felix the Cat: The Movie was an attempt to revive an aging cartoon icon after years of being nothing more than a seller of merchandise. Their heart was in the right place (unlike Heathcliff who just repackaged episodes from the TV show and shilled it off for a quick buck)...at least until they decided that the best way to revive one of the oldest cartoon characters still in existence today was to ship off the cartoon product to Hungary and then put the movie in theaters to compete with Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Yeah, that was smart.
Needless to say, Felix the Cat: The Movie bombed at the box office and wasn't the Felix revival the creators had hoped for. Ironically, Disney, possibly still laughing their asses off at the fact that this movie had the same opening day as the Disney movie that almost won Best Picture in the Oscars, would run this movie a lot on the Disney Channel and that's how most people know of its existence.
That being said, I have a sad confession to make. The reason this is going to be my first animated movie blog post is because this was one of my favorite movies from my childhood and still remains a personal favorite for me. I'm currently going to school for an Animation BFA so I know bad animation when I see it, and unfortunately, even though this animation is from an outsourced Hungarian studio, there's admittingly a bizarre charm to it that I can still deprive some entertainment from.
That doesn't change the fact it's a strange as hell movie, though, so into the grinder it goes.
Since I blab so much about only 22 minute episodes, I'm splitting this analysis into multiple parts. So sit back and gaze into the strangely animated abyss that is...
Felix the Cat: The Movie
Original Release Date: October 1988 (November 1991 in the United States)
Availability: On DVD, but be prepared to pay over 30 dollars for it.
Okay, the best way to start on this movie is to bring up the opening before the actual title. This is probably the one of the biggest things that gets made fun of in this movie, because the creators decided very wrongly that the first thing that should entertain the audience is some CGI effects.
Unfortunately, CGI effects in 1988 are just laughable now.
|Oh hey, I still remember the level select code for this game. |
Up, Down, Left, Right, Hold A and press Start!
|"Yeah, folks. I'm sorry about this too."|
|Save for the annoying glow effect, I actually really like this shot.|
|I like that she uses a quill pen but has a modern lamp sitting right there.|
|Just because she's royalty doesn't mean she can't be tacky as hell.|
|He's not pretty enough to be a good guy.|
|She's a fan of Earth modern art at least.|
|"You summoned my trap cards!"|
|My pokemon brings all the nerds to the yard, |
And they're like "Hey wanna trade cards?"
|The Duke's elbow ribbons are just adorable!|
Unfortunately, Madame Pearl informs Oriana that everyone in the kingdom already surrendered or fled and the Duke of Zill is just a couple minutes away from seizing total control of the castle. Uh, you guys? Couldn't you have informed Oriana about this a little bit earlier instead of waiting until the last minute? I'm pretty sure you can see his army coming, especially if they look like this:
|The single most eye-searing evil army ever.|
So yeah, underground railroad, which has nothing to do with slavery. There are some near misses with the Duke of Zill's glowing army of blinding death (geez, did they blow like 80% of the budget on those glow effects?), but they finally end up at the underground railroad.
|What do you have against my eyes, movie?|
|Pretty inconvenient place to store an interdimensional piece of equipment.|
|"Maybe I shouldn't have slept through my political science classes..."|
Anyways, we get a close-up of Oriana's obviously rotoscoped face and we see her cry a single tear of composed princess sadness. Sounds normal enough, at least until the tear turns gold and shiny, starts flying through the air, and shouting "Help me!" while inputting the correct code for the Dimensporter. Yeah, what the hell, movie? They never explain how this works, if Princess Oriana did this because she has magic in her royal blood, or if tears just work differently in this universe. They just expect us to accept this plot point.
|Her own bodily secretions are more competent than her.|
|Windows Media Player teleportation sequence!|
|Okay, fine. "Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi." Happy, now?|
|Imagine if his enemies were armed with a laser pointer.|
Also, that tear must be trying to kill Felix, because it leads Felix over a mountain road and Felix narrowly avoids getting flattened by a semi.
|It would be kind of a unique subversion if Felix got killed ten minutes |
into his own movie.
The movie decides that having just Felix for the entire movie would be pretty annoying, so they introduce two other characters from the Felix the Cat franchise, The Professor and his nephew Poindexter from the 1950's cartoon. And unfortunately the sets for The Professor's lair make him a lot more badass than he really is. I mean, look at these designs...
|I wish this wasn't a Felix the Cat movie because man these designs are cool.|
|Nothing like a little neighborhood spying to bring an uncle and a|
nephew closer together.
Immediately, Poindexter is established as the one that does the actual thinking out of the two of them, because their scene involves The Professor asking questions like "What is he doing?" and "What's happening?" while Poindexter obediently answers. Another way you can tell Poindexter is the smart one is because he likes to arrogantly wear a graduation cap at all times in order to advertise his smartness to the entire world.
The Professor makes a point to say that he "always wanted that bag" just to inform the viewers at home that he's some sort of antagonist. Sadly, with his umbrella, his purple striped pajamas, and his previous scene where 80% of his dialogue were confused questions, it feels more like the addled wishes of a senile old gentleman than anything threatening.
|"Uncle, your Social Security check came in the mail today!"|
|He's so confident of his intelligence that he removed his eyes just |
to prove that he could.
|Come on Fox, do a barrel roll!|
|This warranted a song, apparently.|
|Ahh, toilet humor. Truly the bread and butter of animated films.|
Fortunately for Felix the Cat, he has a magic bag, and he demonstrates just what it can do to the people watching this and wondering why he chooses to lug around that bag. He apparently can activate its powers by turning his pupils into pluses and shooting magic eye lasers at it so that it turns into whatever Felix desires in that point in time. In this situation's case, it turns into parachuting gear, and I realize this entire paragraph makes no sense. Just bear with me here.
|ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOFELIX|
Felix follows the teardrop through the mines and demonstrates the inability to shut up. He stops the action just to say really inane pieces of dialogue. He even points and laughs at some remains of some poor soul who had tumbled down this mineshaft and crawled through the darkness broken and bleeding until part of the mineshaft caved in on his body and he died alone and afraid. Felix is a bit of a callous asshole when you stop to think about it.
|"Hah hah, you died and that's funny!"|
|So was the mine named after Oriana, was the name just a coincidence, or...?|
|DANGER: Parallel dimension filled with untold majesty and wonder!|
|"I'm warning you, there's a parallel dimension with advanced civilizations |
full of technology a lot more fantastic than ours! Better stay clear!"
|Yeah, this won't make the movie look horribly dated at all!|
|I kind of wish Navi said "Yeah, you're on your own" and then disappeared midway through Ocarina of Time...|
Luckily, the Dimensporter can magically raise itself on a purple platforms in some shots and be perfectly fine submerged in other shots so it never gets damaged. It would kind of suck to end the movie with "Sorry Felix, you're stuck in our world forever because you flooded the room and caused water damage to sensitive equipment", after all.
|The Dimensporter drinking game: Take a shot whenever it changes height|
or magically appears from on the ground to on a platform.
|Movie, what the hell am I looking at here? Seriously.|
|They bite, they fight,|
They stand for everything right,
|And all those fish are quickly forgotten, making that previous sequence entirely pointless.|
|"I don't care who you are, but that's funny right there!"|
|"Yeah, smart guy, don't think I can't hear you, and don't think I won't|
turn this bag into something that can kill you."
|And then Pim is ganked by a troll rogue on his way to Theramore Isle.|
|So something split a dragon's head in half and they're concentrating on the bubble things?|
|To be fair, can you really blame Pim for thinking Felix is out of his mind?|
|For starters, that's one clear blue sky. New Jersey has nothing on that.|
|It'd be kind of funny if Felix was dissolved by the turble's digestive juices before|
Pim and the Duke could use his magic bag.
Why? Because the movie introduces its real villain, of course. Yes, the Duke of Zill may blow a lot of smoke with his army of floating cans, but Part 2 has the actual villain that has direct contact with the heroes, has way more dialogue and character, and has a more satisfying conclusion to his story arc than the Duke. Who is he? We'll find out next time.
Follow a magic glowing princess tear to Part 2!