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Titanic: The Animated Movie
(2001)
 

Director: Camillo Teti              
Voice Cast:
Lisa Russo, Mark Ashworth, Gisella Mathews


Okay, okay - pipe down! I said PIPE DOWN! (Sigh) SHUT UP!!!! There, that's better.

Oh, I wasn't saying all of that to you, dear reader - the fact that you are reading this website shows that you have a good amount of smarts in you. I was yelling at "them" - you know, those whiny ultra-liberal PCers who seem to find offence at anything. You usually see them at college The stand-ins used for "An American Tail" finally get to star in their own motion picture!campuses, where they were inexplicably and instantly transformed into what they are now from their previously ordinary selves as soon as they stepped onto their campus for the first time. Fortunately these irritating folks usually stay on campus with their protest signs, and even more fortunate is once they graduate they usually shake off this syndrome. Though there are a few unfortunates whose immune systems never manage to defeat this plague. You can always here them in the background whining about something they find offensive. (And I'd bet most - if not all - of these people are also those DVD snobs I've previously mentioned.)

Anyway, I could hear these people shrieking and screaming about the premise of this family-oriented animated musical. Well, to be honest, I too at first was a bit taken aback by the premise of this movie - taking a true-life event where over a thousand people died, and intending for a lot of its audience to be children. But then I subsequently realized that it is the presentation of the movie that's the key, not necessarily the material in it. My hesitation about the movie was instantly erased when I read the special note printed on the back of the box:

CHILD-FRIENDLY ENDING ASSURES
EVERYONE IS RESCUED AND LIVES
HAPPILY EVER AFTER!

See, you whiners? What is there to be offended about? This perspective makes it okay, doesn't it? In fact, I anticipate that this alternate viewpoint will be used in the future to tackle more historical subjects. I'm sure that in a year or two we'll be given The Killing Fields: The Animated Movie, which will teach the kiddies what exactly happened in southeast Asia (while making sure everyone gets rescued and lives happily ever after, of course.)

Seriously, this is surely one of the most bizarre premises for a family-oriented animated musical. Well, after a little thought about it, I guess arguably it could be pulled off. For one thing, I seem to recall on Broadway a few years ago there was a musical about the Titanic disaster. And there have been a number of animated movies in the past where the lead characters have suffered various traumas (like losing their parents), and spend most of the movie struggling out of an unenviable position. All that is needed to pull it off is a sense of taste and respect for the situation, and to resist the temptation to (ahem) go overboard. To put it bluntly, this movie not only goes overboard, but immediately sinks like a stone and hits the very bottom. Nothing in this movie works in the way its creators intended - the animation, the characters, the plotting, the comic relief - you name it, it completely and utterly fails. Even if you just look for unintended humor in this entire mess, the results there are only about a notch better. Hard as it might be to believe, this movie makes Pinocchio In Outer Space look like The Last Unicorn.

The plot: The ship hits an iceberg and sinks. Oh, you know that already? So I guess I should go into the players this time in this oft-told story. Though I don't want to be accused of laziness, I don't think I can do better than what is described on the back of the video box (except when it comes to using grammar and punctuation correctly.) Here it is exactly as it's written, missing commas and all:

"Set aboard the famous ship Titanic, where you will meet many lovable characters as they embark on a fun-filled adventure across the sea! Meet Angelica a young"I finally found the one...... to do my laundry!", beautiful girl who dreams of meeting her prince charming (sic). Sir William Greenfield a rich and handsome yet shy and modest Scottish nobleman. Corynthia Meanstreak an able swindler who is aided by her two clumsy nephews Kirk and Dirk. And of course we can't forget all the lovable Animals (sic) who populate the Titanic and will tell their own stories. Maxie the mouse, Geoffrey the cat, Danny the Dalmatian, Hector the Magpie and more!! Together these characters conjure up delightful entertainment for kids of all ages !

"As it happened in the real story, the Titanic will hit the iceberg but only to determine the beginning of a new life full of hope for everybody!! Filled with hilarious antics, fun music and enchanting characters this movie is sure to be a hit with the entire family !"

I can't help but wonder what would have happened had the real captain and crew of the Titanic told the panicking passengers they were on "a fun-filled adventure" and that they were now at "the beginning of a new life full of hope for everyone". At the very least, things may have been a bit more orderly on deck. Those two paragraphs are ripe for more skewering (I am sure "a hit with the entire family" means that the family will use the tape as a piņata after watching it), though I'll won't go any further with this nit-picking, with the exception of pointing out how the first paragraph illustrates how much plagiarism there is to be found in this movie. Naturally, the obvious source for inspiration is the James Cameron Titanic movie, with two young adults from different social backgrounds in love, though their sexes are swapped in a vain effort to hide the inspiration. And like in Cameron's movie, a necklace is used as a plot device.

But the plagiarism goes beyond this obvious source. Angelica is the step-daughter of a cold and selfish woman who treats her as a maid, and so do her two ugly and screechy daughters - it's not just ripping off the fairy tale Cinderella, but these three characters have obviously been designed to emulate how Walt Disney envisioned these characters in his 1950 movie. And ripping of old Uncle Walt sure doesn't end with these characters. Ms. Meanstreak is designed to look like Cruella DeVille, and her two bumbling nephews look and act like DeVille's bumbling henchmen. One dog in a minor role looks like "Lady" from Lady And The Tramp, while Danny the Dalmatian (and his girlfriend)... well, I think you know what movie inspired their characters. One scene has a chef fighting a small animal in his kitchen a la The Little Mermaid. The movie is so unoriginal and desperate, it even resorts to ripping off Don Bluth(!), with a black kleptomaniac bird (The Secret Of NIMH) and immigrant mice (An American Tail). At least we should be thankful director Camillo Teti got inspiration from two of Bluth's few decent movies, instead of the likes of Rock-A-Doodle and A Troll In Central Park (though considering this movie is terrible like those two, maybe he did after all.)

If you are wondering just how all those characters and situations could possibly manage to fit together in one movie... well, they don't. There are so many characters that the movie can't give any of them enough Ship, that's some bad CGItime to be properly developed. And in the little time that they do have, nothing of any real importance happens. When the movie is not focused on the slight and inane love subplot (which is another of those where the characters are just in love with the other's looks), it's primarily focused on either dumb animal shenanigans or people tripping and bumbling around and making themselves look even more idiotic than they already are. Nothing they do endears us to them or is of the slightest interest to us; they even look repulsive to look at because they have been poorly designed by the animation crew. (Angelica and William look like they had too much silicon injected into their lips.)

I should point out that a great deal of fault to be found with the presentation of the characters and those storylines that go nowhere seems to be not the fault of Teti and company, but in what appears to have been a major effort to reedit and repackage this Italian feature to North American audiences. The first indication of this is with the opening five minutes of the movie consisting of footage consisting of the sinking of the Titanic and the passengers trying to stay alive - and we see this same footage near the end of the movie. Furthering the suspicion that this wasn't how the movie originally began is that after this flash-forward we get a sequence of swoops over an English city - which would seem to be the place where the original opening credits were placed.

Another clue that the movie has been reworked comes with the first song number, where the animals in the bowels of the ship stage a rap number. Yes, a rap number - and it's clear that in the original Italian version it was also a rap number, since we get shots of a dog wearing basketball clothes(!) and a couple of shots of the animals standing in front of a graffiti-sprayed brick wall (despite the fact that...oh, never mind.) The lyrics, should you be curious, go as follows:

Workin' all day, now it's time to unwind!
Kick back, relax, take a load off your mind!
I'll be bustin' the moves, I'll be bustin' the rhymes!
We'll be bustin' up laughin', 'cause it's party time!
Party time!
Party time!
Party time!
(Etc.)

There are some obvious clues that this sequence was reworked, for footage original to the sequence is repeated,  and that footage is stolen from a later musical sequence that has a song more appropriate for the period. It's also clear in some shots that in the original footage the rapping dog was really speaking. Well, it could be argued that rap is in fact speaking... oh, never mind.

The strongest clues that suggest that the movie has been reworked come near the end of the movie. After suffering so long with these characters, the ship finally hits that iceberg... and ten minutes later the ship is at the bottom of the ocean. Yes, that's right - after torturing us for so long, the movie even cheats us at giving us some spectacle. We never learn, for example, how the animals escape from the flooding bowels of the ship, though come to think of it, this omission might be a blessing in disguise.

Then after the ship sinks, we are You can always find something to laugh about even in the darkest of timestreated to a still-picture sequence (not only ripping off Animal House, but giving the animators' hands a break) which shows us the fates of the characters, told to us by a child narrator who has an almost impenetrable European accent. Two odd things about the sequence - we never find out what happened to the captain of the Titanic (which can only mean either the movie plain forgot or that the back of the box lied), and we see Ms. Meanstreak has landed in prison (so I guess her happy ending must have been about finding the joys of lesbianism.) Then we get twelve minutes of end credits. In fact, if you subtract from the running time of the movie these twelve minutes, plus all the repeated footage, the movie actually runs less than an hour - the biggest clue that a lot of the original movie is missing. Though since what is in the movie is so awful, I doubt it could have made any improvement.

Is there anything good to say about Titanic: The Animated Movie? Well, it did make me think about lesbians...
 


UPDATE: Megan Devine sent this in:

"Dear Greywizard,

"Regarding your article on the animated Titanic Movie, you're right. Not only were huge chunks of the movie cut, but it's also been heavily edited by what I can only assume is a mentally retarded chimp.

"If you're interested in seeing the real movie, it's available on Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=DocSane&view=videos

"Still in English, still bad, but it's at least comprehensible. Also, you might have already seen this, but I thought I'd bring it to your attention anyway. It's pretty funny:

http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/thatguywiththeglasses/nostalgia-critic/5605-titantic-the-legend-goes-on

"Great site, BTW."

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See also: Jimmy, The Boy Wonder, The Last Unicorn, Pinocchio In Outer Space

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