The big movie of the weekend is the CG animated movie DC’s League of Super Pets, which has a lot of well-known actors in it, including Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson, who will be the next Black Adam. Super Pets joins Disney’s Lightyear, which came out earlier this month, and Paws of Fury, which is now finally out, as animated movies with big-name actors instead of voice actors.And in the past few months, this trend has lost some of its shine, if not all of it.
Celebrity-led animated movies have been around almost as long as some of us have been alive, but Disney’s Aladdin in 1992 really got the ball rolling.Ron Musker and John Clements asked animator Eric Goldberg to draw the Genie doing one of the late comedian’s stand-up sets to get Robin Williams to voice the character.That animation is what got Disney and the actor interested, and his performance is the main reason why the movie works.
Since then, there have been at least three big animated movies a year, most of them from Disney, with well-known actors playing the main characters.In some movies and TV shows, the celebrity voices are the only thing that makes them worth watching. If these actors didn’t sound like they were just speaking into a microphone, maybe this wouldn’t be such a big deal.You might be watching Disney’s Strange World and see Jake Gyllenhall talking like he would in a regular live-action movie that didn’t involve global disasters or tricking a child soldier into giving him killer drones.
No matter how good an animated movie or show is, the lack of energy and skills kills it, and it becomes very clear how much of a stunt the casting was. We all have different examples of this, but for me, Mortal Kombat 11 is the most striking contrast. Ronda Rousey being cast as Sonya Blade is one of the worst things about that game. Her performance stands out even more in a game with strong voice actors like Ron Yuan’s Scorpion and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa’s Shang Tsung. And you know that Netherrealm knew it because the character doesn’t have any voice lines in the “Aftermath” story expansion for the game.
Voice acting is a different job than acting in real life, and it requires different skills.You know this is true if you’ve ever watched an animated show or movie, no matter where it came from.Yes, some famous actors, like Keith David, Angela Bassett, and J.K. Simmons, have voices that are almost made for singing. But in general, you can tell when voice actors treat a role like it’s their career and not just something they do in between bigger projects. Some natural voice actors have their own kind of fame, and that should be built on instead of putting them in supporting roles while A-listers get top billing.
To be fair, there have been a lot of famous actors who have shown they can be good voice actors or are working on projects that require them to put in the work.When the famous voices are good, they are very good.A show like Bojack Horseman or, more recently, Tuca & Bertie gets away with this by having famous actors bring their A-game. In some cases, you might not even recognise an actor until you see their name in the credits.
Arcane, which has well-known TV and movie actors like Hailee Steinfeld, Shoreh Agadashloo, and Kevin Alejandro, as well as vocal veterans like Reed Shannon and Jason Spisak, is a good compromise.Both types of actors have great material to work with, and the live-action actors can easily carry their weight.
The animation industry is trying to improve working conditions and get the rest of the entertainment industry to take it seriously.
At some point, it would be great if animated projects didn’t have to use celebrities to get attention or prestige. Like the saying goes, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.And the medium has a wide range of talented singers who know what to say.