I love animated films. I would go see them even before I had kids. One of my favorite movies of all time is How To Train Your Dragon. This summer, we get Kung Fu Panda 2. I am giddy. But as with all things -- wine, umbrellas, Girl Scout cookies -- not all animated flicks are created equal. Compelling story lines that fall flat, cute animal sidekicks that are blah, and yes, celebrity voices that just don't work.
It seems every animated movie out there has a celebrity voice ... or 8. Some are fantastic, some ... not so much. Here's my list -- see if you agree.
Best Celebrity Voices
Tom Hanks in the Toy Story films -- Not only does Tom Hanks somehow make us forget this is Tom Hanks as a cowboy doll, he also makes us want our kids' toys to come alive when we aren't looking.
Robin Williams in Aladdin -- Probably one of the most memorable animated characters, Robin Williams as Genie is engaging and zany enough to stand up to the animation.
Ellen DeGeneres in Finding Nemo -- Some of the best animated casting ever, Ellen provides the kindest, smartest voice for Dory. Can you imagine anyone else going toe-to-toe with Albert Brooks' Marlin?
Dustin Hoffman in Kung Fu Panda -- Dustin Hoffman's gravely voice is spot-on as Shifu, the Kung Fu Master who has to train Jack Black's Po. Again, you know it is him, but that fades quickly.
Sacha Baron Cohen in the Madagascar films -- Maybe you don't know who he is, but Sacha Baron Cohen has the ability to transform himself (his other alter egos: Ali G and Borat). With his voice, Julien, the self-proclaimed "king" of the lemurs, steals every scene.
Worst Celebrity Voices
Brad Pitt in Sinbad: The Legend of The Seven Seas -- Too carefree, too casual, Brad Pitt's voice just doesn't keep up with the intense action. Plus, since Mama knows it is Brad, Mama wants to see Brad.
Jerry Seinfeld in Bee Movie -- I love Jerry Seinfeld, but his delivery and voice is too distinct. Paired with a meebly voice of Renee Zellweger, the two main characters don't provide enough oomph to make this film work.
Angelina Jolie in Kung Fu Panda -- She is gorgeous and a fantastic actor, but almost too nuanced to voice an animated character. Kiddo loves her high-flying and kung fu-kicking Tigress, but her intensity is too quiet to match the animation.
James Earl Jones in The Lion King -- I kept wanting him to bust out with some Darth Vadar lines or to say, "This is CNN." When you have such a well-known voice, it is totally distracting.
Owen Wilson in the Cars films -- Poor Owen Wilson follows the same fate as Brad Pitt. Too laid-back, his voice just doesn't work for animation. I want to see him and his face as he delivers those lines, not some car.
Did I miss anyone on these lists?
Image via Happy Batatinha/Flickr