8.04.2009

Book Review: The Magic Behind the Voices

This treasure trove is an inside look at 40 voice-over artists from Mel Blanc, Daws Butler, and Paul Frees, to Maurice LaMarche, Rob Paulson, and Tom Kenny. I love reading this book (I haven't quite finished it yet) because for someone like me who is absolutely fascinated by animation and voice-acting in general, it's very eye-opening to read about what these people had to go through and how they all got recognition and success for their efforts. Adrianna Casselotti, the operatic voice of Disney's Snow White, couldn't get another acting job afterwards because her voice was too recognizable! Frank Welker is the man behind an uncountable array of speaking and non-speaking animal characters (from Abu the monkey, Flit the hummingbird, and that doggy-footstool from Beauty and the Beast, to Mr. Plotz, Ralph the Guard, and Runt from "Animaniacs", to the voice in the Mattel "Farmer See 'n Say" toy that says "The cow says Moo-ooooooo"!) Casper the Ghost, Rocky J. Squirrel, and Bart Simpson were all played by women (Norma MacMillan, June Foray, and Nancy Cartwright respectively)! It's a cartoon triviast's dream! If you're like me, check out this book!

Anyway, because of this book, I decided to give the show "The Simpsons" a try. As far back as I can remember, I used to think that the uncannily popular animated TV show was just a bunch of bad-mouthed badly animated garbage starring a mediocre family with questionable values. But since reading about people like Dan Castellenata and Nancy Cartwright, and how they had (and continue to have) such a good time doing the voices of Homer and Bart Simpson, that I decided if they like it, then maybe I could give it a chance. Of course I am aware that for them it means a nice, steady income as well as a barrel of laughs, but still. Me and Bettina started out by watching the very first episode from late 1989, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire". Funny enough that the series starts off with a Christmas episode. Anyway, Homer doesn't recieve his Christmas bonus at the nuclear plant and has to dress as a department-store Santa to make ends meet, Bart gets a tattoo but then has it surgically removed, and in the end, they rescue a racing Greyhound named Santa's Little Helper. I never thought that I would say that "'The Simpsons' are okay", but now I find myself typing out those words on my computer. And they're true. Sure their family is dysfunctional to an extreme, but underneath it all, I can see the love that the Simpsons have for each other.


Along with "The Simpsons", I now have a newfound respect for Maurice LaMarche (The Brain of "Pinky and the Brain" fame). He is such a talented guy! Have you seen the "Pinky and the Brain Christmas Special"? In this episode, Brain concocts a plan to take over the world by mass-producing these hypnotizing dolls and distributing them around the world by way of Santa's sleigh, and Pinky writes a letter to Santa, which he forgets to mail! Please, click on this link to see the Climax! I mean holy cow! Was that not one of the saddest, most touching moments in animated television or what? Somehow I remember seeing this show when I was who-knows-how-young, and I didn't think much of it. Now I can't stop thinking about it! I should have known. These people were probably the same ones who came up with the dramatic climax in "Wakko's Wish" (not to be confused with the last part of the movie, where all the strings are tied up and everyone lives happily ever after and all that jazz).

Okay, my review is over. You can go home now.

2 comments:

Rainy said...

I never really liked The Simpsons either. I was more of a Tom and Jerry type of person :^) Always loved that crazy cat and mouse.

The Funny one said...

Funny enough, I think on the Simpsons they have a spoof of Tom and Jerry called Itchy and Scratchy, where the characters try and kill each other. I don't like them, but I don't mind the Simpsons that much anymore.