I don’t want to give the wrong impression with the title of this article. I love Don Bluth movies for their incredible artwork and dark, mature themes (well, most of them). When I watched them, especially Secret of NIMH, there was such a struggle and trauma on display that the battle of good against evil felt more real than anything I’d ever experienced with Disney.
So I repeat: This is not a slam on Bluth’s style, just more of an observation of the things that kind of pull me out of the movie and remind me that I’m watching something of his. Annoying as I find that, if you took any or all of these things out then you’d be taking out part of what made him unique.
Oh and before we begin: Yes, I know he worked for Disney for a while and there are some characteristics shared between his movies and the ones he worked on for Disney.
6. Glitter, Glitter Everywhere
Probably my nit-iest of picks, which is why I’m getting it out of the way early. I have no problem with seeing glitter (or “sparkles”) drawn as part of the clothing design or flying around a magical character. Bluth uses it in those instances, a lot, but he also tends to just make it a part of any surface to draw attention, or better capture the way water looks when light is reflecting off of it. Many times it looks great, but seeing that much sparkle makes me wonder “what in the world is in the water supply?”.
5. Obnoxious Owl-brows.
Do owls have large eyebrows? Yes, indeed. Are they always white, bigger than the owl’s face and look like a bicorner? If you’re Don Bluth, they do.
Any time I’m watching The Secret of NIMH or Rock-A-Doodle and the owls in question show up on screen, all I can do is stare at their forehead until the story moves on.
4. Floppy Tongues
Unlike the the glitter, which is gorgeous but overused, or the Owl-brows that at least have their roots (ha) in reality, Floppy Tongue is so out of place and strangely animated that it’s the first one on this list that legitimately irks me.
Other animators draw characters with their tongues hanging out to show different emotions or a lack of intelligence. Bluth says “You know what this scene needs? Floppy Tongue!” and proceeds to draw everything from cats to birds to fish with tongues that suddenly grow 20 times their normal size and twirl around outside their mouths. It’s incredibly distracting and kind of icky.
3. Bubba Lip
It can strike any species at any time. No creature is safe.
The afflicted are easy to spot, pitiable to behold. Do not mistake this for a simple case of allergic reaction or the healing of a removed labret; the truth is much darker. These unfortunate beings were born this way, their gargantuan lower lips taking over their face until their chin completely disappears. It’s disturbing enough to cause onlookers to question the wisdom of such a creator.
Bubba Lip is a real affliction, and it’s time we raised awareness.
2. Featuring Dom DeLuise as Dom DeLuise
I have nothing against the man, God rest his soul. He was very likeable in his roles and as a child I found him comforting, like someone I wanted to be friends with.
Be that as it may, as a fan of voice acting I get quite annoyed when a celebrity is hired to just come into the studio and talk like he/she normally does. It’s a thing that happens, though, and I just have to get over it. Besides, he wasn’t bad.
But honestly Dom was in so many freaking Bluth films that it messed with my escapism when Jeremy, Tiger, Itchy and Stanley all sounded alike. I’m probably missing a couple of roles, but you get my point.
For those not in the know, rotoscoping is an animation technique where the animator traces over a live-action performance frame by frame.
It generally yields terrifying results, as Ralph Bakshii would love to show you:
To my knowledge Bluth never created anything quite that horrifying, but actually accomplished some impressive human animations with them.
Still he used this technique often, and it wasn’t always so smooth; for example, the tractor in the Secret of NIMH. I don’t know what everyone else sees, but my mind can always pick out the uncanny quality of rotoscoping and it doesn’t sit well. It just makes things look out of place. As a child who didn’t understand why I sensed that something was wrong, it was very unsettling. To his credit, that added to the eerie quality of his movies.
That means that the Giant Mouse of Minsk is based on a real thing that has really been in existence! All of these years? Oh my God, please excuse me while I go throw up and crawl into the fetal position for the next two weeks.