Where's Walt When You Need Him?

Whatever happened to the animated movie?

Yesterday my sister and I took my nephew to see the latest installment of CG animated movies, Fly Me to the Moon. Its box office draw, 3D animation. I can't say that I went with great expectation, but I was hoping for mild entertainment and a few surprises in 3D. Disappointed on both counts.

With many animated movies over recent years, I consistently find myself leaving the theater or shutting off the DVD disappointed. Since the arrival of Toy Story, movie studios have been riding a wave of CG animation. Special effects in live action films are a cheap thrill that come a dime a dozen. And CG animated movies often have weak plots with varying degrees of quality animation. (Notable exceptions for many of the Pixar movies and a few from Dreamworks.)

But the thing I miss most is the magic of an animated movie. I distinctly remember the first time I saw Beauty and the Beast. It was a fantastical experience that made me go home and imagine for days that I was Belle. There is a magic associated with hand-drawn animation that is lost in the CG world. I miss the experience and the magic. And wonder whether it is really worth it for movie studios to sacrifice that magic and quality for the cheap, reproducible formula of today's animated movie. Somehow I don't think that this was the visioin of Walt Disney or his contemporaries.