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Special Report From Rhett Wickham: Honing the Range (Part Two)
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And what about the few people who have commented on the look of the film, that they aren’t used to seeing characters that look like this from Disney. It’s very appealing to me, personally, and I like the styling. But for some people they’re put off by the look of a film like this or EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE until they see the characters move.

I kind of disagree. You know it’s interesting. This is something that came up in a retreat. "Has mainstream culture changed?" And I said "Well, yeh. You have stuff as weird as Power Puff girls and all this stuff on TV and years ago that would have been too weird and too wacky." On one hand a lot of people say the style is very retro, so I’m surprised anyone would comment on that.

I remember the first time I saw the Simpsons I didn’t like them and I didn’t think they would do very well. And I like Mat Groenig a lot but the colors turned me off and I thought I was never going to warm up to them. But I’m a huge Simpsons fan. A huge fan. I remember that my grandparents thought that the Peanuts characters were hideous because their heads were so huge. They had grown up with characters like Skippy and Orphan Annie.

That’s the point I was trying to make. People are used to seeing different things now, so I don’t think they look that weird to the public.

I would far prefer to see this kind of design in animation, and I think it’s eminently much more interesting.

I did read some comments from people who were in love with the look of BROTHER BEAR which is very lush and the characters are very form oriented and it’s a very volumetric kind of drawing and these are more graphic characters very much in the same way the ALADDIN characters were 2D characters. But I think that all sort of becomes academic once you see the movie. And every time we see this with an audience people get in to it right away. We bent over backwards to make sure people were sucked into the story. And hopefully that will be the case when general audiences see it.

Will Finn and John Sanford’s will find out when the answer arrives on the April 2nd coach. Whatever the response at the box office, HOME ON THE RANGE at the very least celebrates the best of traditional animation in a modern age. It capitalizes off of everything that came before it without being derivative or cookie cutter. With the very best of two generations of personality animation, production design and layout put to work on a story that is indeed different than anything else Disney has produced in close to half a century - there’s a lot more than just a farm that these cows might save. And wouldn’t that truly be a little patch of heaven!

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Special note of thanks to Will Finn and John Sanford for their time and consideration. Next week: An interview with Producer Alice Dewey, and thoughts on HOME ON THE RANGE from Mark Henn, Duncan Marjoribanks, Dale Baer, Shawn Keller and James Lopez.

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-- Rhett Wickham
All photographs copyright The Walt Disney Company, all rights reserved. Special thanks to Michael Garcia.

Rhett Wickham is a frequent editorial contributor to LaughingPlace.com. Mr. Wickham is the Director of Creative Affairs for Squared Foot Productions, an independent feature film company in Los Angeles. Prior to moving to LA, Rhett worked as an actor and stage director in New York City following graduate studies at Tisch School of the Arts. He is a directing fellow with the Drama League of New York, and nearly a decade ago he founded AnimActing©®™ to teach and coach acting, character development and story analysis to animators, story artists and layout artists - work he continues both privately and through workshops in Los Angeles, New York and Orlando. He is most proud to have been honored in 2003 with the Nine Old Men Award from Laughing Place readers, "for reminding us why Disney Feature Animation is the heart and soul of Disney." He can be reached through actingforanimators@earthlink.net

The opinions expressed by our Rhett Wickham, and all of our columnists, do not necessarily represent the feelings of LaughingPlace.com or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation and rumors about the future plans of the Walt Disney Company are just that - speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.

--Posted March 26, 2004