Recently Critter and I were talking about the Olympics — not because we watched them or anything, but because I was downloading the opening and closing ceremonies on BitTorrent since people were making such a fuss about them. (We still haven’t watched them…sigh.) I mentioned “Animalympics” because I used to LOVE that movie as a kid, and it turns out he did too. So I promptly tried to add it to our Netflix queue and found it wasn’t listed. I went on Amazon.com and didn’t find it there either. WTF? Apparently it hasn’t been released on DVD in anywhere except Germany in 2007. So I went back to BitTorrent and found a DVD which was obviously made by a big fan of the movie, because it looked like a transfer from Laserdisc with a custom menu. It also included a version of the movie formatted for iPods, the entire soundtrack in high-quality MP3, album art, and liner notes… all in one download. Wow! The soundtrack’s been out of print for ages as well, so that was a nifty find. (And it’s easy to find, just go to a popular torrent tracker and search on the title.)
Anyway we watched it a few days later, and I’m surprised at how much of the music and dialogue I remembered. My brother and I watched this on HBO probably a dozen times in the early 80’s, so no wonder! It’s still fairly entertaining, obviously aimed at kids but with enough witty in-jokes and cheap yuks for adults, and the musical bits are cheesily enjoyable too. And let’s not forget the Xanadu-esque neon scene changes! Harry Shearer’s pre-“Simpsons” voice is instantly recognizable, among the other obvious ones (Gilda Radner, Billy Crystal, etc.) When the credits rolled I noticed Brad Bird’s name in the list of animators, so I began reading more about it on Wikipedia. Turns out a lot of people who worked on this movie went on to do some pretty famous stuff:
Among those who worked on Animalympics were art director/animator Roger Allers, animation director Bill Kroyer, and animator Brad Bird. Allers, who animated Kit Mambo, the lion star of Animalympics, appropriately went on to direct The Lion King. Kroyer later wrote and directed the animated feature FernGully: The Last Rainforest. Brad Bird went on to work as story editor of The Simpsons, and later achieved even greater success writing and directing The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille.
Director Lisberger went on to conceive, co-write and direct the science fiction classic Tron, which some of the Animalympics crew were involved in. …Its soundtrack supervisor was Michael Fremer, who was involved in Animalympics as a co-writer, voice artist, dialogue/music track editor and sound mix supervisor.
I also found out how many rabid fans this movie still has! There are soundtrack-hunters, video uploaders on YouTube, poster collectors, you name it. And you know a movie has reached cult status when people take the time to scrutinize it for “mistakes”, as in this entry on moviemistakes.com: “When Boris Amphibiensky fails his high jump attempt during track and field, one of the bar’s ends sticks to the post while the other reaches down to the ground. But the bar’s length is only about an eighth of the posts’ height, which is more than 77 feet, so the one end shouldn’t reach the ground while the other still hangs on to the post’s top.” Either this guy is a megafan or he’s desperately in need of something else to do, geez.
Anyway, I just thought I’d see if any readers out there used to love this movie as a kid (or adult, whichever). It’s worth seeing again for nostalgia’s sake if you can snag a copy.