FAVORITE CELEBRITY ANIMATED PERFORMANCES

If there’s one thing Hollywood is good at, it’s leaving the general population dazed and confused with their decision making. One area that has always left me completely bewildered is the casting of major stars as the voices of Animated characters. Dreamworks is NOTORIOUS for this! Look at the voice cast for a film like Antz or Shark Tale and you’ll see what I mean. The amount of A-List celebrities lending their names to these films would drive a live-action film’s budget over 100 million just to pay the cast. And the problem is, this doesn’t always make for the best voice performance.

Pixar has worked with A-Listers over the years but has proven that they are always looking for the best voice and not necessarily the biggest name (Albert Brooks in Nemo, Craig T. Nelson in The Incredibles). That’s to be commended. I always figured why not save on budget and look for a great voice in the world of up-and-comers or has-beens… Judd Nelson for Scar in The Lion King anyone… maybe not. But you get my point.

Still, every now and then, an actor comes on board that not only suits a character but, one could argue, was born to voice the role. This is no small task, which makes for a short list. However, a list is what we must make so I present you with this weeks: FAVORITE CELEBRITY ANIMATED PERFORMANCES.

These are my favorite 5, in order. I’d love to expand this list to 10 based on your opinions. So, leave your favorites below and I’ll see that this list is updated and expanded by the end of the week. Here we go…

JOHN LEGUIZAMO as SID THE SLOTH.

 

You know? This whole ice age thing is getting old. You know what I could go for? A global warming.”

Ice Age isn’t one of the greatest animated films ever made. Though, it certainly is the best thing to come out of Fox’s animated studio. And while Sid, too, may not be one of the greatest animated characters ever created, John Leguizamo (who’s been doing voices since his days as a stand-up comedian) takes the opportunity to shine in  this fun little film. Sure, it’s not hard to stand out when your surrounded by a hum-drum Wooly Mammoth voiced by a ho-hum Ray Romano and a Sabretooth we’ve seen before voiced by Dennis Leary doing his best Scar impersonation (2 Scar referances in one post… YEAH!!!). Still, give props where they’re due… Leguizamo makes this film fun.

EDDIE MURPHY as DONKEY.

 

“You might have seen a housefly, maybe even a superfly, but I bet you ain’t never seen a donkey fly. Ha, ha.”

What? No Mike Myers. Sorry, I can’t give it up to Myers for doing the same voice he did in So, I Married an Axe Murderer, Austin Powers and half of the sketches he wrote on SNL… regardless of how well I felt it fit perfectly for the role. What I can do is commend Eddie Murphy, who I had grown quite weary of at the time, for ressurecting his career with a spot on comedic performance in the Shrek films. And to do it amongst another A-List laiden Dreamworks cast deserves extra KUDOS!!!

NATHAN LANE as TIMON.

 

“Luau. If you’re hungry for a hunk of fat and juicy meat. Eat my buddy Pumbaa here, ’cause he’s a tasty treat.”

Okay, so James Earl Jones is perfect and prolific as Mufassa and I love casting Benson as Rafiki. but everyone knows that Timon and Pumbaa are what makes this Disney classic so enjoyable to watch. And while Ernie Sabella deserves a shot out for playing the inept straight pig in this comic duo, Nathan Lane steals the show with his portrayal of Timon. The fact that he can sing didn’t hurt but his comic timing is what makes us love this character. Don’t believe me? Go rewatch the scene where Timon dons a hula skirt and offers his buddy Pumbaa to the Hyenas Luau style… CLASSIC!!!

CHARLES FLEISCHER as ROGER RABBIT.

 

“P-P-P-Please, Eddie!”

I know Fleischer isn’t exactly an A-Lister but he’s been a working character actor for decades… so, deal with it! Most of the time, I believe characters are conceived and actors shoved, like a large foot in a small shoe, into their voice roles. In Fleischer’s case, he IS Roger Rabbit. He’s probably the closest thing to a human sound machine since Jonesy in the Police Academy films. Here, he uses his entire arsenal to make this cult favorite the beloved piece of cinema it is. Let’s face it, if say Bruce Willis or someone had been chosen to phone this performance in, it wouldn’t be what it is. Also, Honorable Mention to the voice of Jessica Rabbit for making that damn cartoon that much sexier… AAA-OOOGAH!!!

ROBIN WILLIAMS as GENIE.

 

“Jafar, Jafar, he’s our man. If he can’t do it, GREAT!”

Best of the best and it makes a lot of sense. After all, Robin Williams is a living, breathing cartoon. Genie was actually taylored to Williams’ performance in the sound booth… something old Disney animators often did which is a sadly forgotten process. Here, Williams shines because he gets to do what he does best and that’s be himself. Only he gets to be himself in a world where he can do and be anything he wants… can you imagine if he wielded that power in the real world… Oi Vey!!!

That’s it, Smurfs and Smurfettes. Feel free to comment below and add your favorites. I’ll tally them up later this week.

I never edit any of the comments… unless you send me Spam. But, hell, I even let some of those through. Remember, this was meant to be an interactive site, as much as I love the sound of my own voice. You can also sign up to get this blog via e-mail at the top of the page. And, as always, if you like this site, TELL A FRIEND!

Check back next Saturday as that is when new posts go up. Have a great week and remember to tip your waitress!!!

23 Responses to “FAVORITE CELEBRITY ANIMATED PERFORMANCES”

  1. Paragraph Film Reviews Says:

    I don’t tip because society says I have to :-p

    Good article dude!

  2. Thanks, Paragraph. Help me out, people… I wanna post alist of 10 this week. I am nominating Tim Allen for Buzz Lightyear. Wanted to put him at #5 but had to show Leguizamo some love!

  3. I liked Albert Brooks in “Finding Nemo” . . . normally don’t care for him as an actor.
    There’s an actor named Michael Ansara. He played Kang the Klingon in the original “Star Trek” (and was married to Barbara Eden for many years 🙂 . He has a great, deep, resonant voice – kind of like a white James Earl Jones.
    He’s probably pretty old now, but I’ve love to hear more of him.

  4. Matthew roark Says:

    Owen Wilson, Cars.

  5. Nice post chief. I think the best voices are usually those actors who are good at improvising comedy. I could see the likes of Jim Carrey, Vince Vaughn or some of the SNL ladies being good at that stuff.

  6. Skip Hinnant as Fritz the Cat…1972, 1st X-rated US animated film…
    As good as Murphy was voicing Donkey, Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots was great.
    Dont forget John Raztenberger in all of the Pixar flicks… In fact you could do a list on just his voices…

    • True, I know of Fritz the Cat (Crumb) but never seen it. I forgot about Banderas… he’s great. Ratzenberger is great as well. I also like Tom Hanks but left him off because while I think he did a great job and was perfect, he didn’t stand out like a Robin Williams or Charles Fleischer… I thought Tim Allen did as he really got the inept side of Buzz as well as his valor.
      To Castor, has Carrey done a good animated voice? I think he’d be great. I didn’t see Horton Hears a Who. He did great as Grinch, Lemony Snickett, The Mask and in A Christmas Carol but those aren’t really animated like I mean here.
      To Matt, I completely disagree about Wilson but I will count your vote. It’s funny… Cars is the most polarizing Pixar film. I, and a lot of people, think it’s the worst Pixar film made and others think it’s one of the best… Crazy!!!

  7. Patrick Warburton and Wendy Mallick in “The Emperor’s New Groove”. I think this is a very underappreciated Disney film, and those two do great jobs as the villains. This is the film that got Warburton’s voice typecast as the big dumb idiot sidekick, and with good reason.

    A little side note, some years ago I read an article that included words from John Dimaggio (Bender from Futurama) complaining about this exact phenomena, preventing people who only voice-act from getting the high paying jobs, when they would do better jobs at it because that is all they do. However, one time when I was at a panel of voice actors, they said the most important thing to succesful voice work is to be a good actor. So there’s a bit of a catch-22 there.

    And Ed Asner as Carl in “Up”. I know it was his own voice, and didn’t require any stretch on his part, but it just “fit”. Pixar really knows how to cast, as Kai mentioned above. I just saw “Up” for the first time a few weeks ago, and I say that is the best Pixar film ever. The silent montage at the beginning of Carl and Ellie: cinema genius.

    • I’m beginning to think Wes should have his own blog…. great points! I agree that while Disney did have their renaissance from Little Mermaid to Lion King there were two films that came out pre-Pixar that were very good. Those being Emperor’s New Groove and Hercules. And Emperor’s New Groove is almost never mentioned but deserves to be. It was not only good but friggin’ hilarious!!!

  8. I thought Paul Newman in Cars was a great choice to play Doc Hudson (which was essentially the mentor role in the film).

  9. great shout Wes on Emperors New Groove – a forgotten Disney masterpiece – up there with Aladdin

  10. I’ll get in on the Groove love – last Disney animated film I saw at the cinema that I really enjoyed, to be honest.

    And what about Jeremy Irons as Scar. You know, deep down, that “Be Prepared” is the best Disney villain song ever written, but it’s also just a wonderfully manipulative performance – Scar is probably the only Disney villain who really scares me.

  11. Cameron Says:

    I can never match the name to the voice but I liked Kung Fu Panda. There has to be a good one in there amoung all the characters. ?Jack Black or Dustin Hoffman?

    • Kung Fu Panda is another example of Dreamworks doing stunt casting… they cast Jackie Chan and he literally had something like 3 lines… WTFrack? A> Jolie was unnecessary too. However, I do think, in this case, Jack Black worked out well… “SKA-DOOSH!”

  12. Eddie Murphy is definitely high on my list as a favorite, Donkey was hilarious and perfect, and even though I knew exactly who was talking, it WORKED! I personally despised Pixars choice to cast Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen! The moment he began talking I recognized Owen’s annoying voice and it killed the character for me. All I could picture was Owen’s face talking, and he doesn’t exactly strike me as the punk, hot, rookie type… just saying. Now, Larry the Cable Guy as Mater! Brilliant!!! I also think that Monsters, Inc got it right with Mike Wazowski. Billy Crystal nailed that character! And I didn’t even realize it was him until the credits began rolling… which is genuinely how I prefer my animated characters to be. Original!

  13. Yeah, Genie’s the winner here. Good list, man.

    Also, I’ve been meaning to ask you, is that really your Spider-Man chest tattoo? Seen that thing on the web before, just wondering if you’re in fact the owner. If so, I want an autograph.

  14. Betty (your Babe's sis) Says:

    Kai,

    You are a genius! And a damn good writer too! I was just glancing at your top 5 list and ended up reading for a hour! You rock! Keep it up… Love ya! How’s ur g’pa?

  15. The Letter "B" Says:

    Just stumbled upon this post. Robin Williams as Genie is definitely number 1 on the list. I also really liked Jerry Orbach (from Law & Order) as Lumière in Beauty and the Beast. Didn’t know it was him until after he’d died and I read it in the paper. Most people never mention this one but I liked Eddie Murphy as Mushu in Mulan. I think it was his dress rehearsal for Donkey. Vincent Price as Rattigan in the Great Mouse Detective scared me as a kid.

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