WowNow - A whole bunch of animated films to avoid
I had some friends over recently, both furry and dragon fans, to show them a retro and entertainingly stupid 1991 anime mini-movie called Capricorn. We poked holes and made fun of it. The following day, in a spirit of— amicable masochism I guess, my friend Dav treated me to the recent movie trailer for A Dragon Adventure:
Confused and somewhat alarmed by the quality levels, I started to look into where it came from.
I am well-aware that computer-animated films with talking animals are churned out all over the world, and most of them are of pretty terrible quality. The theory is that kids will watch anything. So if you believe that, then who cares about quality? Just work on a small budget and make money. What I hadn't done was to take a look down this particular rabbit hole. Now, having done so, I regret it.
Enter a company called Wow Now Entertainment, also known as Dream Machine Animation, and some other brands. Don't try searching for them on IMDB, you won't find their full catalog. Search instead for some of their writers, like BC Furtney, or their directors, like Evan Tramel and James Snider. Snider is credited - I kid you not - with at least 24 films in 2019 so far.
Occasionally they'll import something from China - Chicken Stew, for example, which is a rare 2D animated series in their collection. Most of their movies appear to be produced in the United States. Which surprised me, since the lip-syncing in their trailers is so poor, I assumed everything was imported.
Two patterns became immediately apparent. First, often making their titles look superficially similar to a more well-known property. Groundhog
Day Dave. How the Grinch The Grump who Stole Christmas. The Secret Funny Life of Pets. Second strategy - picking a title so incredibly generic, that searching for it will generate a lot of false hits. Like Sea Monsters, or Father's Day. Boy, do those two films look similar! There also seems to be some deliberate up-voting on IMDB. Not on all their titles, but I'm rather suspicious of the 423 people who rated Jumbo a 10 out of 10.
Managing so much output requires cutting a lot of corners. The Funny Life of Pets seems to be a bunch of poorly-animated pets watching silly videos of real pets. I can do that on YouTube! And the character models will give you a sense of deja-vu. After you watch enough of these, you'll see a lot of the same ones. The Easter Land trailer re-uses the model for the deer, Santa, an elf, a talking tree... and its opening trailer shot?
The same as this one from the trailer for Wee Dragons. (Source?)
Speaking of the Wee Dragons trailer, listen to the narrator. Now go back and listen to him in the trailer for A Dragon Adventure, that we started this article with. I'm having a hard time trying to determine if they're significantly different. Or hey, on the topic of dragons, my friend Dav noticed that the models in Pixy Dragons seem to be asset-flipped from the Unreal Engine Marketplace.
Also, just how many of these films involve a contest as a conflict point?
Still, these productions are pretty off-the-radar. I had a hard time finding videos of people who've watched and reviewed them. Although perhaps that's because the generic titles make searching difficult. Ironically, the reviews are likely to be more entertaining than the films themselves. Still, the company keeps churning them out, so whatever their business model is, it may be working into tricking someone into buying them. It's rather sad. I'm sure there are talented writers and animators out there who could produce better material, though would probably get rock-bottom wages. So instead we've got a market saturated with this sort of thing instead.
To actually sit through any of these, they're available "on major platforms like Netflix, Redbox, Amazon, Hulu, and Walmart". In the past there may have been a Wow Now Kids streaming app.
If you like animated films, then stay safe out there. Maybe if you're looking for a drinking game. Actually no, I'd not want anyone to waste good booze and become an alcoholic over this. Beware, my friends. This way lies madness.