Whenever I was a kid, I had one hell of a collection of animated movies. Being the tiny one I was, cartoons just come naturally and whatever kept my attention so my parents could have a rest was good for them I suppose. Growing up during the Disney Renaissance as I did, the majority of them came from that fun little company. Aladdin, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, and Little Mermaid just to name a few. But of course there were a few exceptions, one of which I remember off hand was Prince of Egypt (which we will get to soon) and the other is the topic of our review today, Animalympics.
Created by the same company that worked on Tron, the film was originally intended to be a handful of vignettes to accompany the 1980 Summer Olympic Coverage. But whenever the United States and several other countries boycotted the Summer Olympics, this left the little animated vignettes a little high and dry. Eventually the vignettes were coppled together into a 76 minute long film that had a small cinematic release and later found its home on VHS… And has yet to be transferred to DVD or Blu Ray.
The film itself is basically a parody of regular Olypmic coverage. It is animated anthropomorphic animals both competing and covering various Summer and Winter Olympic events. Other then that, that is about it. It is like watching the Olympics… Only if Barbara Walters was a stork.
I owned it whenever I was a child and watched it constantly as I was fascinated with the mere concept of international competition. It was right up there with the Lion King on the list of my most watched movies when I was growing up. Plus around the time of the Winter and Summer Olympics, I pop it in at least once to give it another watch… But just because the movie holds nostalgic value to me, does it make it good? Well that is a pretty tough question… And is why I am reviewing it today.
It is the Best Parody of Olympic Coverage I Have Ever Seen
You want to talk about a Parody that did its damn research, this is it. Everything about this movie feels like an Olympic Coverage. The commentators, the athletes, the hokey back stories for these various athletes, and the random product placement. Just about everything that is in the movie feels like real Olympic coverage. I have seen other parodies of the Olympics and other movies that cover the Olympics in some regard and I have yet to see one that actually feels like the Olympic games are being performed.
There isn’t a plot or anything to that nature, but really it doesn’t need to have a three act structure. To criticize a movie like Animalympics for not having a three act structure is the same as getting on the Jackass movies for not having a three act structure. That isn’t the purpose of the film to tell a long story, its purpose is to simulate Olympic coverage with anthropomorphic creatures in the roles and for someone like me who really likes the Olympics in general… This definitely does it very well.
The Film is Very Unbiased to Different Nations… Which is Amazing Considering the Cold War and All
If you watch this now and do not understand the context, this film doesn’t seem like much. But what you have to remember is this thing was created in the late 70’s to early 80’s at the height of the Cold War. This was the time when everyone was worried about Nuclear Holocaust every damn day with both sides blaming the dirty communists or the evil capitalists for ruining the country. To see this movie and the way it is presented is one hell of a change of pace. This was around the time when Rocky 4 and Red Dawn was popular.
But in this film everyone is portrayed rather equal. There are some ‘villainous’ characters to be sure. But for the most part each respective continent and people is treated equally and for lack of a better term… Like human beings. One of the earlier skits is the gymnastics competition in which a ‘Eurasian’ (Clearly Russian) mink wins the gold medal and is given a back story that is a little jab at Russia. But really she is not presented as villainous in any way.
Granted this is also in the 70’s and 80’s when racial tolerance was still a work in progress so you have some pretty off color jokes such as the penguin Bruce Quackimoto who is obviously Japanese, because he looks like every other penguin and bows a lot. Then you have the slack Californian otter who is American because he is laid back and way too cool. But really the special doesn’t treat anyone as ‘better’ than the others. In fact it takes some time before the ‘North American’ team actually wins a Gold Medal so points there for treating everyone fairly.
This movie was meant to be a handful of vignettes stretched across a few weeks of coverage and it definitely shows. On their own, these little clips are a lot of fun to watch and even in the beginning its cool to see the ‘Olypmic coverage’… But even then, once the film hits the hour mark, the pace is enough to drive you crazy. It feels long and tedious and their is no hint as to when it will end until you get to the final moments of the marathon which is supposed to be the continual theme of the special.
In separate 20 minute vignettes, this is a pretty effective series… But on its own, it can get tedious and boring really quick.
The Pointless Music Sequences
I suppose the creators thought that people would lose their attention if there wasn’t some random montages or moments where the audience on acid can participate. So throughout the film you have moments where it cuts to two to three minute long music videos that just make the pacing even worse. Even as a kid I would hit the fast forward button my VCR just to skip over the musical sequences that really add nothing to the movie but to be there.
The worst one is when the laid back California Otter is on the high dive and the scene cuts to a near 2 minute long colorful music montage of pretty shit for people to get high to. If you cut out the music in this movie even the vignettes all hooked together would be a much more enjoyable sit through.
Some Vignettes are Pretty Bad and Some are Nonsensical
There are several vignettes that just plain suck and there is no way around it. The two that come to mind is the marathon and the fencing segments.
The marathon segment starts off the movie and also finishes it as it follows two racers, Renee Formage a French Goat and Kit Mombo, an African Lioness. After the first vignette, the other marathon racers are left in the dust and the rest is just Formage and Mombo matching each other stride for stride. Eventually… Because it is the Olympics and infamous for its copious amounts of sex, Kit and Rene realize they want to bone each other and hold hands while they run across the finish line. Yay! A race that spans the whole series where nothing happens and nobody wins! It almost seems pretty pointless, wouldn’t you agree? I mean hey, if a goat wants to fuck a lion then I’m all for it. Knock yourselves out kids. But when it comes to the Olympic Parody that I am watching, I would rather be watching much more interesting sports and much more interesting characters instead of seeing these twos forced and predictable love affair.
The other one is the fencing segment which is one of the last in the movie. Now I’m going to stress this, up until this point the movie is pretty standard, animals compete, some win and some lose. It is pretty cut and dry the same as Olympic coverage. The only area where this really deviates is with a skiing weiner dog from Germany who gets lost and then hang glides in to win the gold medal. Granted it is very farfetched… But the guy was technically a legal entrant. In the fencing montage we come in at the end of the competition where a giant warthog is fighting a flying squirrel. The nefarious warthog wins in a very snooty fashion and is about to be given the gold medal when suddenly a bird shows up (Falcon or hawk I’m not sure which) in a straight up pirate outfit. The warthog snarls because… He apparently knows her, this is never explained and they have a duel in which the bird eventually wins and the flying squirrel tosses her the medal. Even as a kid I was crying some serious foul over this. First off these two characters apparently know each other, but we never saw them before and never see them again. What is there backstory? You would think you would share, they did with other characters. Second, regardless of whether or not the bird kicks his ass, the guy was a legal entrant who won the gold and then the gold is given to the bird… Because I guess anyone can enter these things at the last minute and steal a gold medal. I know it seems weird for me to go on a rant like this, but this vignette is so out of place. It is nonsensical and the most farfetched of the bunch which up until this point was able to at least keep it in some ground of reality.
If you are a fan of the Olympics, then this movie is a lot of fun. The voice acting is well done and the animation is good too. It is a great parody of Olympic coverage and is pretty entertaining.
But the pacing is terrible, some of vignettes are annoying and stupid, and to be honest if you are a person who does not enjoy the Olympics then stay as far away from it as possible.
Final Score 2.5/5
Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this review please like and subscribe for more. Please join me Thursday as I look at one of the most awesomely bad TV mini series, Stephen King’s The Stand.