Current and upcoming animated films (2021-2022)
I've been pretty quiet here lately - my life got turned upside down last year, and I've not had much time for fandom. That includes my interest in animated films! Still, I thought I'd throw together a selection of titles, both recent and possibly up-coming.
I suspect there are many more I've probably skipped over. (I'm avoiding the really popular ones, they've already received plenty of attention.) For example, Aardman is working on another Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit film. And of course there are lots of TV series, like Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles in the works.
I really wanted to put in more international films, but it's difficult to find out about those in advance. In any case, hopefully these all have some kind of talking animal critter in them, regardless of quality. If you've seen any of the released titles, post your impressions in the comments - or write us a full review!
I won't be describing the films that have already been posted about on Flayrah, or those in the Newsbytes (Turning Red, DC League of Super-Pets and The Bad Guys).
Other recent mainstream titles have been Spirit Untamed, Scooby-Doo Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog, and PAW Patrol: The Movie. Then there's sooo many more...
Princesse Dragon (2021) (trailer)
From France. A feral girl raised by a dragon sets out to discover the human world? Also has an evil frog-witch of some sort?
Ainbo (2021) (trailer)
I was poking around on the Annecy Film Festival website and stumbled across this one. A Netherlands / Peru / US collaboration. "The epic journey of a young hero and her spirit guides, a cute and humorous armadillo and a goofy oversized tapir, who embark on a quest to save their home in the spectacular Amazon Rainforest."
Even Mice Belong in Heaven (2021) (trailer)
Originally a Czech production? Stop-motion animation. "A film about two mortal enemies - a little mouse and a fox, who after an unfortunate accident, meet in animal heaven. They lose their natural instincts and become best friends. Their wish to stay together after they return to Earth comes true, but they are reborn into opposite roles. Thanks to the power of friendship, they can even overcome what seems to be impossible."
Little Eggs: An African Rescue (2021) (trailer)
From Mexico, this is the 4th film in the Huevos franchise, so I assume there's an expected familiarity with the characters. "Toto and his friends must rescue his egg children after they're taken away for a gourmet food event in Africa."
The Ape Star (2021) (trailer)
Scandanavian. "Joanna is a feisty young orphan who wants to be adopted more than anything. But when her potential new mom drives up to the orphanage, she gets a big shock when the door opens and a gorilla steps out! The ape and girl quickly overcome their physical differences. But will their newfound love survive the scheming of a local bully who's out to separate the two?"
(Ok, let's return briefly to slightly more familiar animated territory.)
Rumble (2021) (trailer)
Paramount's combo of giant monsters and wrestling!
Vivo (2021) (trailer)
Vivo the kinkajou is on a personal quest to travel from Cuba to Florida. I wonder if there are any shout-outs to Chico & Rita? Anyway, don't expect to see more of the black musician from the trailer. (For reasons...) Sony's fascination with characters wearing really big glasses continues.
Seal Team (2021) (trailer)
A South African production. A squad of misfit seal recruits are brought together to stand up to sharks.
Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds (2021) (trailer)
An unexpected revival of a Spanish-backed anime television series from the early 1980s.
Arlo the Alligator Boy (2021) (trailer)
To find the father he never knew, Arlo leaves his swamp for New York City. A musical adventure.
Belle (2021) (trailer)
The latest anime film by Mamoru Hosoda (Wolf Children, The Boy and the Beast). Suzu is a shy high school student in a rural village. When she enters a massive virtual world, she escapes into her online persona as Belle, a popular singer. And where there's a Belle, there's a Beast! Originally titled 竜とそばかすの姫, Ryū to Sobakasu no Hime, "The Dragon and the Freckled Princess".
The Absurd, Surreal, Metaphysical and Fractured Destiny of Cerebus the Aardvark (2021) (clip)
For many years, Dave Sim's Cerebus the Aardvark series was the poster child for successful, independent comic book publishing. It started off as a Conan parody, making fun of numerous comic book and adventure tropes. It blossomed into a complex socio-political adventure, and there was some really strong story-telling going on! Then it nose-dived into self-indulgence and took a hard right into becoming a vehicle for the author's new-found toxic misogyny. Anyway, a group of volunteers have adapted some of the comic's early parody issues into an animated film, which took them over fifteen years on a minimal budget.
Mavka: The Forest Song (2021) (trailer)
Ukrainian. A forest spirit falls in love with a human musician.
Riverdance: The Animated Adventure (2021) (trailer)
An Irish boy and a Spanish girl travel into a mythical world of walking, talking (and dancing) giant Irish elk. Watch out Cartoon Saloon, someone else is pushing into Irish culture!
Back to the Outback (2021) (trailer)
A group of animals escape from an Australian zoo.
Unicorn Wars (2022?) (trailer)
A war is going on between between teddy bears and unicorns. This is from Alberto Vázquez, the same guy who did Birdboy: The Forgotten Children. I'll be giving this one a pass; Birdboy was dark and depressing, which is fine - but it danced around vague and cliché dystopian messages about the decay of civilization, never committing to anything specific or meaningful, while it threw in gratuitious shock content. This new trailer is reminding me of it all over again.
Extinct (2021) (trailer)
Two flummels, an extinct and improbable donut-shaped species, find themselves transported from their island home in the year 1835 to modern-day Shanghai.
There's been a weird resurgence of Pinocchio adaptations lately. A Russian one in 2021; Disney's working on a live-action version; there was an Italian live-action one back in 2019; and now Guillermo Del Toro is stepping up with his own take.
Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness (2022?) (trailer)
The main character is a clumsy half-chicken half-hare, obsessed with becoming a respected adventurer like his adoptive father, the king. The trailer mentions it's produced by the same company that made Bigfoot Family, while conveniently not mentioning they also made The Queen's Corgi.
Finnick (2022?) (trailer)
(Sorry Zootopia fans.) Originally Финник in Russian, this is about a rotund house spirit who's more interested in pranks than taking care of their house. Weird events begin to happen in the city and he teams up with a teenage girl to figure out what's going on.
Odd Taxi: In the Woods (trailer)
A movie adaptation of an anime television series. In an animal world, Odokawa is a middle-aged walrus taxi driver whose interactions with his customers entangle him with the disappearance of a girl.
(The rest of these films may or may not come to fruition. The animation industry is like that. Some haven't released any screenshots. It's nice to see that a lot of book adaptions are happening, and Netflix is increasingly becoming a supportive platform.)
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile
Sony, live-action with superimposed animation? A musical comedy; Lyle is a nice crocodile who lives with a family in New York City, but is disliked by a neighbor. Based on a children's book.
Paramount. This has been bouncing around since 2015. Inspired by Blazing Saddles, a dog with dreams of becoming a samurai ends up as the sheriff in a town of cats.
The Amazing Maurice
Sky Cinema, based on the children's book by Terry Pratchett. A cat, a boy, and a group of rats travel from town to town, pulling a Pied-piper scam. But in one particular town, things are... not right.
Cinesite. From Bloom County's Berke Breathed, a pig bounty hunter goes after an escaped elephant. A road trip film. Cyberpunkish?
Under the Boardwalk
Paramount. Under the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore, a land crab falls in love with a sea crab tourist. They get swept out to sea and must travel home.
My Father's Dragon
Cartoon Saloon. Based on a children's book. "Elmer Elevator searches for a captive dragon on Wild Island and finds much more than he could ever have anticipated." They're keeping a surprisingly tight lid on this one, in comparison to their other films.
The Sea Beast
Netflix. "A legendary sea monster hunter's life is turned upside down when a young girl stows away on his ship and befriends the most dangerous beast of them all."
Wendell and Wild (teaser clip)
Netflix. Two demon brothers escape from Hell and want to start up their own amusement park (with good intentions), but must face off against a nun and a pair of goth teens who are out to get them. Stop-motion animation from Henry Selick, (Coraline, The Nightmare Before Christmas) in collaboration with Key and Peele.
TAT Productions (France). An adventurous mouse sets off to battle dangerous creatures in Ancient Greece, including Poseidon.
Escape from Hat
Netflix. Based on a children's book. "A desperate rabbit rallies an unexpected band of allies to help him escape from inside a magician's hat and return to the human boy he loves."
High in the Clouds
Netflix. Based on a children's book. "A squirrel embarks on a journey to find an animal sanctuary."
Perlimps (teaser trailer)
From Brazil. Two agents from enemy kingdoms must overcome their differences and combine forces to face the dangerous giants and save the forest from being swamped by green slime.
Apple and Skydance. Sam[antha?] Greenfield is the unluckiest person in the world. When she discovers the Land of Luck, she must unite the magical creatures there to turn her luck around. Directed by Peggy Holmes.
The Tiger's Apprentice
Paramount. Based on a book. "Tom Lee, a Chinese American boy discovers that he is part of a long lineage of magical protectors known as the Guardians. Tom finds that in order to have a fighting chance against the evil forces that threaten the world, he must first bring the estranged Zodiac animal warriors back together as a unified team."
Ok, with all that put together, I'm gonna go lie down for a while. Lots of potential material for Saberspark!
Riverdance was released in 2021, but only in Ireland and a couple of other European countries. Now it's widely available on Netflix. Not the greatest film by any means, but the animation and cinematography are very pretty and the dance animation is very, very well done throughout.
I should add, this is all ignoring films that don't have animal characters in them. As I was looking, three that caught my eye were Apollo 10½, Yaya e Lennie: The Walking Liberty, and the unfinished Mars Express.
This year's going to be nothing short of a bloodbath come Oscar nomination time. Aardman, Cartoon Saloon, Disney and Pixar (though they did kinda fuck over Seeing Red), Henry Selick, the Spider-Verse sequel. I mean, Miyazaki himself took a look and went "We're moving to 2023." Okay, that's a joke, he obviously moved to 2023 because he felt he needed to. Like he gives a shit about the Oscars.
Okay, Turning Red will be Oscar eligible. Not because the Academy is re-reextending the "streaming movies count during the pandemic" rule, but because Disney's giving it a week long run in one LA theater, which is the bare minimum requirement as it otherwise releases straight Disney+. Which, I mean, duh. I should have seen that coming; Disney did that with a lot of straight to DVD DisneyToons features, why not with a Pixar movie that might actually get nominated for something?
Not just that, the same five films are up against each other in multiple awards!
Sorry, Sing fans, Sing 2 was the odd duck out here. Genuinely sorry; not my movie, but it's always nice to see furry stuff nominated. Also not sorry; Flee needed this way more, and the Animated Feature category being aggressively international before it was cool for the rest of the Academy to do so is one of the highlights of the category (of course, I might be singing a different tune if Belle had managed to sneak in and bump off Raya and the Last Dragon).
With many many thanks to Dronon for their help, I finished my presentation for Further Confusion -- as an on-line video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClN5h9-jhIU
Oh wow, I missed a whole bunch! Thank you so much for that - Folks, if you like this kind of info, go watch the video, it really fills out the year of 2021 in animation!
There's also Koati, in theaters probably starting October 22.
Summary at IMDB: "Three unlikely heroes - Nachi, a free-spirited coati; Xochi, a fearless monarch butterfly and Pako, a hyperactive glass frog - embark on an adventure to stop wicked coral snake Zaina from destroying their rain forest homeland."
English trailer : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGywfUsEsaU
Spanish trailer : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGldZNSjL1Y
Koati YT channel (in case they delete those trailers): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8wG3xUI3fQljppo_hixmuA
(one of the voice actors is Sofía Vergara from Modern Family television series)
EDIT: also, is it my imagination or are movies in theaters this year going have a larger percentage than usual of animated movies?
Replying to the edit: I don't know if it's actually the case, but it was widely predicted that the pandemic would cause a boom in animation production. You can "work from home" in animation in ways you couldn't with live action. So, animated productions weren't stalled quite as bad as live action.
In addition, though production of animated movies could continue, releases were still stalled, so there's also just a build-up, which would combine with the "boom" if there actually was one, or cause the feeling that one existed even if we actually did the math and found out it was minor to nonexistent.
Aaaaaaand speak the Devil's name... I make mention in my video that "it's strange we haven't even seen a trailer when this movie is supposedly 'coming soon' now". Precisely two days later... THIS.
That's either going to be really good or really bad, I'm not sure which yet. Like in Forrest Gump, maybe it's both, happening at the same time?
I mean, on one hand, we get it, Hollywood, that you get it, we know you figured out we love our nostalgia, but that you've figured out that we've figured out that you've figured out that we like it, so to keep a step ahead of you've gone really stupid meta ... anyway, I've gone cross-eyed. I mean, throwing up My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Cats and all that shit designed to create "ALL THE RESCUE RANGERS TRAILER EASTER EGGS YOU MISSED!" YouTube videos videos, while actually kind of impressive in a "wow, was that corporate wrangling of IPs you pulled off there" is gonna take a bit more than just a wink at the camera to be actually kind of impressive in a "wow, that was a good movie" sort of way.
On the other hand, the "I had the CGI surgery" joke made me laugh. Also, screw it, I liked Space Jam 2, what the fuck do I know? I'm dropping 90s references in the first and second paragraph of my comment myself, and I'm about to drop another 90s reference so deep in my last paragraph, I don't even think it's worth it, but it also doubles as a masturbation joke, so what the hell?
On the gripping hand, uh, where's Gadget?
The feverish on-line speculation goes like this: Since the film's synopsis states that Chip and Dale "must form a rescue mission when an old friend goes missing", therefor it's likely that Gadget is either the MacGuffin, or the Hidden Villain.
You can see her a few frames following when Zipper launches a Dale occupied missile.
Well what's the one in the first picture? I can't see a title anywhere near it
It's DreamWorks' The Bad Guys, which has been covered elsewhere.
I was on my phone earlier, and it's hard to do links, but here's the trailer if you're still interested and/or haven't just googled it yourself by now.
Has The House on Netflix been mentioned here?
2/3rds of it are anthropomorphic.
I think that one did get a Newsbyte, as well.
Raya and the Last Dragon was I think the last time I even bothered to do a trailer story, and I don't think anyone else has either, and it is a bit easier to miss a Newsbyte.
Adding to the list, Titina is a Norwegian animated film about a fox terrier who comes along on an expedition to the North Pole. The two trailers paint a vastly different tone.
There's also a Dutch stop-motion animated film about trying to house-train a pig, with enough pooping (ew) that I'm not going provide any links to it.
Excellent animated movie links:
Someone on Catsuka occasionally posts a selection of European animated movie pitches - whether any of these will come to fruition, who knows! (Here's an earlier list of theirs.)
Also found a list on Letterboxd, and that's just the first of three pages - haven't researched it yet to know how many are actually going to come out. It's a lot to process!
And one from 2022 that we missed, reviews aren't great - I think this was originally German? Rabbit Academy, which may be a sequel to a 2017 film called Rabbit School.
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