Later this month Kinokulture Cinema will be screening Wes Anderson’s charming and quirky animated feature Isle of Dogs, a film that perhaps boasts the most impressive voice cast ever.
The cast includes: Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton…the list goes on!
How long have famous voices been used to sell animated features? Certainly the early Walt Disney films didn’t rely on celebrities to boost ticket sales, although it may have been Robin Williams’ turn as the genie in Disney’s Aladdin (1992) that began the trend for stars to be used rather than (relatively) anonymous actors.
There have been some memorable vocal performances in recent years and for younger film goers some actors are synonymous with their cartoon counter-parts. Think of Tom Hanks’ affable charm as Woody in the Toy Story trilogy, Steve Carell as soft-hearted villain Gru in Despicable Me (2010), or more recently Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as Maui in Moana (2016).
Some actors have animation to thank for saving flagging careers. Mike Myers who shot to fame in Wayne’s World (1992) and Austin Powers (1997) had something of a career revival as the voice of the titular disgruntled ogre in the Shrek movies. The same could be said of Eddie Murphy who lent his voice to the Donkey in the same film series.
What’s my favourite vocal performance? Well, that’d have to be Peter Sallis as Wallace in the Wallance & Gromit films. His voice was a perfect match for the cheese loving, entrepreneur inventor and had such character that it was only fitting that his side-kick, Gromit, never spoke at all. Sadly Sallis passed away last year and it’s uncertain whether they’ll be any further adventures for the duo. If there is, then whoever provides Wallace’s voice will have mighty big slippers to fill.
By Tom Brookes
From our weekly column in the Oswestry Advertizer, published in May 2018.