Wednesday, May 18, 2011

After 22 years, I finally saw it

Image: Frank-the-mouse, having clambered on to a schoolhouse regulator clock, checks a golden pocket watch against it. Both read 5:50:42.

On Sunday, I finally saw Don Bluth's All Dogs Go To Heaven (henceforth ADG2H, because I'm in a bit of a rush). I had never seen it before: whenever it was in stores, I never had the money, and on TV they only ever showed All Dogs Go To Heaven 2*. Since I "got" the jokes in ADG2H 2, I had, until now, considered my knowledge of that part of pop culture complete. After all, you're supposed to know what the first movie is about to "get" the second one, right?

But recently, Rick Griffin started a story arc explicitly referencing ADG2H on his webcomic Housepets!. Of course, there were many things I didn't get.

All Dogs Go To Heaven mini-review

Wikipedia resolution:

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After two weeks of wild guessing, I finally was able to set some time aside and watch the movie in full (though I can't tell you where). I am happy to say that I found it the most complete movie ever. The musical numbers all seemed to fit in. It was funny, it was profound, it was suspenseful, it was exciting, it was heartwarming, even BLAM.

image: Killer, a bespecled dog, "mans" a machine gun; the recoil of which sends him flying backwards.

No, I don't mean that kind of "blam"; that one actually is part of the excitement and suspense. I mean this kind of blam:

Image: The Nostalgia Chick and the Nostalgia Critic cry "BLAM" behind an on-screen sign that reads "big Lipped Alligator Moment," and depicts (you guessed it) a big-lipped alligator!

Because, you see, "BLAM" stands for "Big-Lipped Alligator Moment", and is the term used by The Nostalgia Critic and The Nostalgia Chick (pictured here at the instant they coin the term) for sequences that come clear out of nowhere. The sequence starts with Charlie and Anne-Marie going (for no reason) to a part of the house they had never gone to before, and discover the floor is weak when it breaks beneath their feet. They fall clear through the foundations and land among a tribe of mice that "talk funny" (being the only characters in the whole film that do so), who offer them to a singing alligator. Could it be any more "completely out of nowhere"?

The alligator, however reappears during the final showdown and is the only reason they are able to beat the bad guy.

BLAMs, thus, come from concieving a movie as a video-game. You know there is always that one side-quest you need to do to get that thing you need to beat the big bad boss? That's your BLAM. It has nothing to do with the story, occurs at the least appropriate time, but absolutely has to be done.

The last thing I'm going to say about the movie is that one thing that shocked me, having come from ADG2H 2 was the quality of the details. ADG2H 2 offers extremely streamlined art. It was, in fact, designed for mass production. Yet, from the very start of ADG2H, you can even see the whiskers on the dogs (which is something most animators don't care to draw). There was even a point when I stopped the movie and said, "is that 3D Animation? Wait, this is 1989; it's probably rotoscope. Wait again, 1989 was when the award-winning ballroom scene for Beauty and the Beast was made! God, these people do know what they're doing!"

ADG2H is, indeed, a great film. Every line the animators drew, every line the script writers wrote, clearly had in mind one thing: that this would shine on the silver screen. So, yeah, we can excuse the maker's slip of the mind, because he really had no better way out of the corner he had written himself into.

Next week, I hope to talk about the parallels between ADG2H and Housepets! so stay tuned! (Yeah, originally it was supposed to go here, but this is already pretty long and I'm out of time)

* If you want to get nitpicky, they did show ADG2H once; but it was in a time slot when I couldn't watch it. The following weekend, they aired ADG2H 2 which, due to the hype the first film created, got a higher rating. They repeated the experiment …once… with the same results. From then on, they've been airing ADG2H 2 about twice a year without showing ADG2H beforehand.

I have to admit that the beginning was rather scary… until I turned the volume up and was able to hear the absurdly ridiculous music that it plays to! Another stroke of mastery from Don Bluth.

This was actually what impressed me the most. You know that Charlie is going to die (because, let's face it, he's the main character and the title says he has to go to heaven), they are saying aloud they're about to kill him), yet when it happens, there you are, biting your nails down, yelling "Noooo!", etc.


  1. "Slip of the mind:"
    For some reason this phrase strikes me as . . . awesome?
    (I have been reading Dinosaur Comics too much lately.)

  2. And I haven't seen either of those films...

  3. Man you two are fast. Guess that's the power of Modern Technology!

    @Binky: Well, you can try Googling it, or if you want to get it legally, physically, and in a form you'll be able to keep (as opposed to having to re-download it if you ever want to watch it again), you can click the films' names where they first appear in the post, and order them.