Top Ten Uses of Animation in Live-Action Movies

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Number 5: Space Jam (1996)

Michael Jordan was a phenomenal basketball player; his acting, however, was not his strong point. And yet that didn’t stop him from making this family-friendly film back in ’96. When an evil alien from a distant planet decides he needs the Looney Tunes at his amusement park, he demands that his bumbling minions bring them to him. When they arrive, Bugs, Duffy and the rest are obviously reluctant to go, so the Tunes trick the short and stubby aliens to a game of basketball. The problem arises when the aliens begin to steal the talent of some of the best players of that decade, such as Charles Barkley, Muggsy Bogues and Patrick Ewing, to name a few. When the once puny aliens become gargantuan, Bugs is forced to enlist outside help in the form of Mr. Jordan himself. It’s quite an enjoyable film. Space Jam topped $US230 million during its theatrical run and becoming a cultural phenomenon at the time. The animation was well mixed in with the live-action and it was good to see our favourite cartoon characters interacting with such big sporting figures of the 90s, not to mention Bill Murray. Space Jam would also be the introduction of Bugs Bunny’s love interest, Lola Bunny.

Number 4: Deadpool (2016)

When X-Men Origins: Wolverine hit the screen in 2009–it was not well received. Hugh Jackman himself admitted it was not handled well and didn’t do the character justice. Although, one good thing came out of it: an introduction to fan favourite Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds spent the better part of a decade trying to get the character back on screen, albeit in a way that was done right. Released exactly 25 years after his first appearance in the comics, this year’s Deadpool was a massive success. And with R rating (U.S. classification) it meant that he could swear excessively, joyfully deliver crude humour and commit atrocious acts of violence, as he is known to do. After being horribly disfigured by the villainous Ajax, Deadpool set after him for revenge. After Ajax kidnaps Wade’s love, Vanessa, they finally confront each other in an epic fight. At one point our invincible hero has a knife sticking out of his head as he lies next to his gal. Hallucinating, he begins to see little animated creatures running around Vanessa. Some of the creatures even begin to fornicate. It was a very short scene, but it was incredibly well placed and executed perfectly. In almost any other superhero/action movie this would have felt decidedly odd, but in Deadpool it was hilarious–and perfect.

Number 3: Anchors Aweigh (1945)

The oldest film on this list. Anchors Aweigh was released in 1945 and starred Hollywood superstars Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra as two sailors on leave from the Navy in glitzy Los Angeles. Kelly here is just trying enjoy himself until he can return to his love. In one particular scene he is talking to Jerry, of Tom and Jerry fame, who is trying to cheer him up. Jerry proceeds to sing to him, and what follows is a masterpiece of cinema as Kelly and Jerry start dancing in a fantastically choreographed dance number. The graphics look sensational for the time and the thespian does extremely well interacting and reacting with the famous cartoon character. A lot of detail was put into this scene, ensuring that Jerry’s shadow could be seen on the floor as well. The sequence would be parodied to hilarious effect on Family Guy many years later. A little known fact is the original draft called for Mickey Mouse to be dancing instead of Jerry. Walt Disney refused to have his beloved character or himself associated with an MGM Grand film.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQqfVt6mOnc

Number 2: Mary Poppins (1964)

One of the hardest words to pronounce and spell (why doesn’t spell-check know this word already!?) is ironically one of the catchiest and most infamous songs ever created. Yes, I’m talking “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” sung exceptionally well by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in this family fantasy. The scene sees Andrew’s magical nanny having jumped into a chalk drawing with Van Dyke’s Bert and the two children. It is an animated world full of wonder and colourful animation, from barnyard animals to street bands. They sing and dance and the band joins in, all whilst playing the instruments. Although there are moments where you can clearly tell that the actors are standing in front of a screen, it never takes away from the magic of the scene. Mary Poppins is filled with live action and cartoon mixtures, but this is the one that got into everyone’s heads. It’s arguably closely followed by the sweetly infectious “Jolly Holiday.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRFHXMQP-QU

Number 1: Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Like there was any doubt. Robert Zemeckis directed this 1988 classic starring Bob Hoskins as our hero, the toon-hating Eddie Valiant, who is forced to team up with cartoon character Roger Rabbit in an effort to clear Rogers’ name after he is framed for murder. The trail leads them to the villainous Judge Doom, played menacingly by Christopher Lloyd. The film had classic characters like Dumbo, Betty Boop and Mickey Mouse. It also featured Daffy Duck and Donald Duck in a chaotic scene with the two of them playing piano and trying to one-up each other. Amazingly blending cartoon and live action, Who Framed Roger Rabbit was initially not praised by all reviewers, but it would go on to become a highly loved film by kids and adults alike. 326 animators worked tirelessly around the clock to deliver us this fantastic film. It would also mark the first and only time that Warner Bros. and Walt Disney characters have shared the same screen.

B.P.

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