Today, I had a bit of time to burn before going to a screening, and I saw that a strange animated film was about to start at my theater: Space Dogs: Adventure to the Moon.”What on earth is that?” I asked myself as I got a ticket.
Now having seen the film I can confidently say it is a terrible movie. The horrible dubbing alone is enough to give it a very bad grade. The story is also messy and the animation is awful. However, it was just nutty enough that I found some marginal enjoyment out of it. Pondering my experience, it made me ask a question I’ve thought about often:
Can you like bad animation?
Let me elaborate: I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot in my heart for the early Barbie movies. The animation in the series has improved but the early years are rough. They’re not rendered very well, looking pasty and awkward… and yet I can watch them and still enjoy them. I’m not saying they are a classic or anything like that, but the story, voice-work and music is good enough for me to stomach the bad animation. (To be clear, the Barbie movies are much better than Space Dogs but it’s a similar principle.)
I know our own Mason has been a defender of films like The Nut Job and Norm of the North as watchable animated fare. I don’t care for those films but I get how enjoyment can be had with them despite the poor animation. I’m a known defender of Ratchet and Clank; although the animation in that film is not that bad. The story is most people’s complaint. I embraced the formula where most thought it was boring. Fair enough.
Another movie I liked with bad animation is called The Snow Queen. On the surface this looks like a Frozen rip-off but the story is quite different and I liked it. The rendering and animation is rough but, if you can see beyond that, it can be entertaining.
I am sure some would respond, “There’s so much quality animation to take in. Why bother with this shoddy stuff?” It’s a fair point and if someone asked me, “Should I see Finding Dory or The Snow Queen?” I’m telling them to see Dory. However, that doesn’t mean The Snow Queen is unwatchable garbage.
Another example I thought of is the Rankin-Bass films from the ’70s. I mean look at the eyes in this image from Twas the Night Before Christmas. It’s rough to look at, and yet I can watch this film and gain some enjoyment out of it. I can with most of their shorts and films, and I don’t think it is just nostalgia.
Cinderella III is another film in which I know the animation isn’t great but I get some entertainment out of (but Cinderella II is a crime against humanity). If someone were to tear it apart, I wouldn’t really argue with them but, for whatever reason, when I watch it I can find some value in it and the story.
I think if the movie can give me something to hold on to, and if I’m not bored, that will go a long way in my forgiving bad animation. Space Dogs was so thoroughly strange and nutty that I didn’t hate it despite it not being a good movie, Cinderella III was a semi-engaging story of Lady Tremaine getting the Fairy Godmother’s wand, The Rankin-Bass specials have a nice Christmas message, The Snow Queen does some interesting things with the story, and, as I said, the Barbie movies have decent vocal performances, music, and an adequate lead character.
In contrast, with Bling from earlier this year, I wasn’t able to find this kind of marginal value because the message seemed off and it was mimicking other films instead of doing its own thing.
Obviously, I can’t give any of these films the grade I would give something from a major studio (yes, even Minions or an Ice Age sequel, which you guys know I don’t love) but I still saw some value in them. There are films that anger me and I will tear apart (take a look at my Batman: the Killing Joke review to see that). I can’t be a reliable voice or critic if I’m not honest about how I feel. That said, you won’t see me ranting about any of these films even though I admit they aren’t very well made and have tons of problems.
What do you think? Can you like a movie that you know isn’t animated very well or as an animation addict should we have higher standards?
Edited by: Kajsa Rain Forden