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Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

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Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

Old 10-17-09, 01:39 AM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

Originally Posted by Suprmallet
Only Pixar has been able to consistently use known celebrities without it completely taking me out of the movie.
Even when Pixar goes big it works. I don't see Tim Allen when Buzz is on the screen. Same for Hanks/Woody.

I've posted this before when this debate came up prior but I'll add Disney to the list of companies that get it right. Disney really hasn't gone with the A listers as often as people seem to think. Sure there are some great character actors, but not your Brad Pitts and Will Smiths of the world.

The movie followed by the biggest stars:

Home on the Range: Rosanne, Cuba Gooding Jr.
Brother Bear: Joaquin Phoenix
Treasure Planet = David Hyde Pierce, Martin Short
Lilo & Stitch: Ving Rhames, Tia Carerra
Atlantis: Michael J. Fox, James Garner
Emperor's New Groove: David Spade, John Goodman
Tarzan: Minnie Driver, Rosie O'Donnell
Mulan: Ming Na, Eddie Murphy
Hercules: Danny Devito, James Woods
Hunchback: Demi Moore, Tom Hulce
Pocahontas: Mel Gibson
Lion King: Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones
Aladdin: Robin Williams, Gilbert Godttfried
Beauty & the Beast: Angela Lansberry
Little Mermaid: Jodi Benson, Buddy Hackett
Oliver & Co.: Joey Lawrence, Billy Joel

So looking at this list, Mel Gibson and Robin Williams strike me as the only marketable names in their past 17 films. Maybe Michael J Fox since he had just came off Spin City and was in the public eye from his Parkinson's announcement. There are some big names up there like Eddie Murphy or James Earl Jones, but they are minor characters or small roles and or at a time when said actor was no longer a huge draw at the B.O.
Old 10-17-09, 02:53 AM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

Originally Posted by Boba Fett
Once celebrity voice that I will give a lot of credit to is Nic Cage in G-Force. I spotted all the other voice actors within a few lines. I had no clue the Mole was Nic Cage until the credits.
Agreed. But in Astro Boy he's just doing his own normal voice.
Old 10-17-09, 02:58 AM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

Originally Posted by Boba Fett
A great example though of a celebrity voice being useless is Hugo Weaving in the Transformers films. His voice is run through so much post production, there's no reason they couldn't have just stuck with Frank Welker, who was apparently good enough for the games though.
This.

It really depends on why the stars were cast. There's no doubt that James Gandolfini does a voice in Wild Things because he's the right actor for the job; he gives an excellent, heartfelt performance. I also think Seth Rogen was a good choice in Monsters vs. Aliens, for instance, his delivery really translates to the screen. However, I'm not sure why that film needs Reese Witherspoon or Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta-Jones had to voice the characters in Sinbad; sometimes it's clearly just about the bottom line.
Old 10-17-09, 07:43 AM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

Originally Posted by TomOpus
Yes, it does add something.

About 5 million to the film's budget.


So true.


You know, I have to say the only PIXAR movie I found somewhat lackluster was Cars. I wouldn't have minded it if they had Mater play less of a role and it happened to be voiced by Larry the Cable Guy (whom I cannot stand), but the fact that they seemed to work him in whenever possible got annoying. When his character yelled "Git Er Done!!" at the end that really took me out of the movie, as it was obviously trying to get you to realize it was him.
Old 10-17-09, 10:31 AM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

To reiterate some of the points already made ... it generally doesn't bother me unless the character is altered to squeeze in the celeb's "catch phrase." But in that respect, any movie that does this is distracting. A bad performance is a bad performance no matter what. Whether it is voice-work or physical acting, an actor who portrays hisself or herself (rather than a character) is boring.

Which leads me to .. how do you watch any movie without separating the actor from the role? How is it more distracting when you aren't looking at the actor?

I think that there are a few reasons for this trend that haven't been brought up. Many of the early celebs to jump to animation voice-work stated that they had done so in order to have a piece of work that their children could watch. While that may not be a fully genuine statement, it certainly is a legitimate argument. I can guarantee that stars are not pulling in the same pay-scale for voice work (compared to acting).

From a studio standpoint, why wouldn't you try to cash in on this trend? Honestly though, you can't tell me that you went to see Shark Tale in theaters becuse you are a huge Will Smith fan. I don't believe that stars are an actual draw to an animated film. (But then I won't watch a movie that looks bad just because a particular person is in it. That statement doesn't apply to movies involving female celebrity nudity!)

Now, to come full circle, I said it generally doesn't bother me. It does bother me in "dubbed" animation (i.e., Miyazaki films) than it does in films where the role was tailored to the actor. The one that stands out the most to me is "Kiki's Delivery Service." Why was Phil Hartman necessary for that?
Old 10-17-09, 12:53 PM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

I always wonder if people go see a cartoon movie they would not normally go to just because an actor does a voice. If Keifer Sutherland voiced Ken in a Barbi animated movie, I wouldn't see it. Does anyone here see movies they would otherwise skip just because someone does a voice?
Old 10-17-09, 01:15 PM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

I think this may have started to get out of hand with Shrek. It seems like that was the first time the celebrity voice actors were prominently featured on the poster.



Granted, this wasn't the main poster, but it still shows how ridiculous it got.
Old 10-17-09, 01:26 PM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

It really depends, but I would say for the majority of the time the answer is no. If the celeb voice is chosen because it adds something to the character I really don't mind. Vin Diesel as the Iron Giant, for example, was great casting. If it's just arbitrary like Dreamworks does with most of their movies just to spout off celeb names in the credits then, no...not really. I can't say I really got anything more out of Monsters Vs. Aliens because of the celeb voices in there.

There are some great voice actors working in animation. It saddens me that their jobs are being given to celeb tools just to have a big name on the project. It's animation...the voice casting should not rely on just having a big name attached to the project.

Dreamworks really is the worst offender of this. Shoot, for a few movies there they even tried to make the animated characters resemble the celebs playing them. Will Smith in Shark Tale and the design for the shark was really the worst. I avoided the movie for that reason alone.
Old 10-17-09, 01:30 PM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

Originally Posted by resinrats
I always wonder if people go see a cartoon movie they would not normally go to just because an actor does a voice. If Keifer Sutherland voiced Ken in a Barbi animated movie, I wouldn't see it. Does anyone here see movies they would otherwise skip just because someone does a voice?
I haven't seen it...and actually probably never will...but when I found out William Shatner did the voice of Santa Claus in a new Christmas movie, my interest was piqued far more than if it was just another Christmas movie.

http://www.amazon.com/Gotta-Catch-Sa.../dp/B002I41KM8
Old 10-17-09, 01:52 PM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

Originally Posted by Giantrobo
The problem isn't Hollywood. It's you. If you can't desperate James G's Tony Soprano character from his voice work in WtWTA then who's fault is that?
Originally Posted by Dr. DVD
If I can't desperate??


I'm not saying I detest JG in the role, I'm just saying when I hear his voice in the previews I think of Tony Soprano and it could prove distracting. I hope I'm wrong, but sometimes when an actor is so identified with a role that it makes it close to impossible to "desperate".
Originally Posted by Giantrobo
It's a fuckin ' typo. I was typing in a mad rage!!!

I get what you're saying, but I think that's where you put in the effort to not think about those other roles and let the actor's work that you're currently viewing stand on its own.

Originally Posted by Giantrobo
The problem isn't Hollywood. It's you. If you can't sesperate James G's Tony Soprano character from his voice work in WtWTA then who's fault is that?

Not fixed.
Old 10-17-09, 03:20 PM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

Originally Posted by Cheato
Not fixed.
I know. I won't fix it.
Old 10-17-09, 06:57 PM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

For all you geniuses who bragged about being "go-to" guys for film talk on another thread recently, I've got a quiz question for you:

What was the first animated feature with celebrity voices to be released theatrically in the U.S.?

(Celebrity voices meaning people who were famous BEFORE the film's release for something OTHER than cartoon voices. And, no, Cliff "Ukelele Ike" Edwards doesn't count, so leave PINOCCHIO out of it.)
Old 10-17-09, 09:10 PM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

Does it really add anything?

To DVD Talk members: Probably not
To the general public: Yes, they want names they know in movies.

Which one gets the most attention? (hint, it's not us)
Old 10-18-09, 01:40 AM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

Originally Posted by Draven
Does it really add anything?

To DVD Talk members: Probably not
To the general public: Yes, they want names they know in movies.

Which one gets the most attention? (hint, it's not us)
Yep. But most dvdtalkers think the world revolves around them and they look down on the unwashed masses of moviegoers.

Last edited by Giantrobo; 10-18-09 at 01:43 AM.
Old 10-18-09, 02:07 AM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

I think the celebrity voice over fixation began with Toy Story. With Hanks coming off of Forrest Gump and Allen having Home Improvement on the air, they became selling points for that movie (especially with it being the first full-length CGI movie).

Sometimes these movies can distract me not because I associate the voice with an actor and his/her popular character, but because I recognize the voice and can't pinpoint exactly who it is. That really grates on my nerves.

I think that Nic Cage also did a really good job in The Ant Bully (Julia, too). IMO, the most brilliant celebrity voice I can think of was Eartha Kitt as Yzma in The Emperor's New Groove. I couldn't imagine anyone else voicing her. One actor I am sick of in animation is John Goodman (and I love JG). There's no variety in his voice and he's voiced a million different characters. He has become distracting to me.
Old 10-18-09, 12:29 PM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum
For all you geniuses who bragged about being "go-to" guys for film talk on another thread recently, I've got a quiz question for you:

What was the first animated feature with celebrity voices to be released theatrically in the U.S.?

(Celebrity voices meaning people who were famous BEFORE the film's release for something OTHER than cartoon voices. And, no, Cliff "Ukelele Ike" Edwards doesn't count, so leave PINOCCHIO out of it.)
Heavy Metal had voices by a lot of SCTV regulars, including John Candy, but that was 1981 so I'm not sure how many of those guys were stars by that point.

Also, The Jungle Book had Chad of Chad and Jeremy fame as one of the vultures.
Old 10-18-09, 12:34 PM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

Originally Posted by Suprmallet
Heavy Metal had voices by a lot of SCTV regulars, including John Candy, but that was 1981 so I'm not sure how many of those guys were stars by that point.

Also, The Jungle Book had Chad of Chad and Jeremy fame as one of the vultures.
Jungle Book also had Phil Harris and Louis Prima, both famous swing style musicians of the time.
Old 10-18-09, 12:36 PM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

Originally Posted by Dr. DVD
So true.


You know, I have to say the only PIXAR movie I found somewhat lackluster was Cars. I wouldn't have minded it if they had Mater play less of a role and it happened to be voiced by Larry the Cable Guy (whom I cannot stand), but the fact that they seemed to work him in whenever possible got annoying. When his character yelled "Git Er Done!!" at the end that really took me out of the movie, as it was obviously trying to get you to realize it was him.
That was pretty lame. Cars seemed to be Pixar's attempt to make a Dreamworks movie. They beat Dreamworks at their own game, but I could never figure out why they wanted to.

My only real problem with Pixar is the endless use of John Ratzenberger. Other than shoehorning him into every movie, they seem to do a really good job with celebrity voices.
Old 10-18-09, 12:41 PM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

Toy Story was kind of annoying too in that Pixar just had to do references to the work the main actors did previously. Like the Tool Time tool set in Toy Story. I usually like the details in Disney movies like that that make you notice things when you watch the movies again, but some of that type of stuff in Toy Story seemed forced. It was Pixar's early days so I can give them a pass for it.

And for the average DVDTalker...I'd say that for the most part the people who post here follow DIRECTORS and really don't care that much about big names in a movie. The average movie goer only knows the actors. When I talk about "Drag Me to Hell" as Sam Raimi's movie to most folks, the first response I hear back is, "Who?" I bet most of us here would go see a movie our favorite director did even if they cast a bunch of unknowns over the Next Big Popcorn Movie with 5 top billed stars and some no name director.

Last edited by calhoun07; 10-18-09 at 12:48 PM.
Old 10-18-09, 12:47 PM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

Originally Posted by Dr. DVD
Jungle Book also had Phil Harris and Louis Prima, both famous swing style musicians of the time.
Fair point.
Old 10-18-09, 01:01 PM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

Since the parents have to take the kids and have to sit through the movie it helps for them to identify with the star. Also it helps the star's career doing the voice.
If the movie bombs it can not be blamed on the star, but if a hit the actor can ride the wave. Like George Clooney has a animated movie coming out. He needs a hit now.
Old 10-18-09, 01:37 PM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

George Clooney needs a hit? I'm pretty sure George Clooney is doing just fine these days.
Old 10-18-09, 01:49 PM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

Besides, I doubt Fantastic Mr. Fox will be a hit.
Old 10-18-09, 02:00 PM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

Alice in Wonderland had Ed Wynn and Jerry Colonna, who were well-known at the time (it seems).
Old 10-18-09, 02:32 PM
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Re: Celebrity Voices in animated/puppet movies: Does it really add anything?

I would like to add that "The Rescuers" (both movies) had Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor. "Down Under" also had John Candy and George C. Scott as well.


I don't think I've ever decided to watch an animated movie based on what celebrity was doing the voice.

But I have made an effort to look for stuff that Billy West (Futurama, Ren & Stimpy) has done. But then, he is a professional voice actor.

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