Right on time! A couple of years ago we told you about a new animated TV series headed to the Disney Channel in 2023 — and now here we are. Animation World Network has this news: “Disney-Branded Television announced that Kiff, their nutty new animated buddy-comedy about optimistic squirrel Kiff and her chill bunny bestie Barry, will premiere Friday, March 10, on Disney Channel and Wednesday, March 15, on Disney+. Kimiko Glenn (Orange Is the New Black) stars in the titular role of Kiff, whose thirst for life takes her on countless adventures through their city alongside Barry, voiced by H. Michael Croner (Craig of the Creek). From creators and executive producers Lucy Heavens and Nic Smal, the series follows Kiff and Barry as they navigate school, relationships and their often-eccentric community in Table Town, a world where animals and magical oddballs tackle day-to-day life together.” We’ll see it all this spring!
There are two movies that came out this year based on The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, the story of a marionette who gains life and then proceeds to, well, go on adventures. Both for all intents and purposes went straight to streaming services, but were treated on the higher "prestige" end of streaming movies, though we're still, as a culture, not sure if streaming first is on par with theatrical releases or more along the lines of straight to video trash (or are they TV movies?). Both were directed by Best Picture/Best Director Oscar winning directors. I personally found them both not actually very interesting, one being ridiculously over-hated, the other just as ridiculously over-loved.
The first was Robert Zemeckis's Pinocchio, which is less a straight adaptation of Collodi's novel than another one of those "live action Disney remakes" that everyone loves so much, this time of the 1940 version of Pinocchio. It released on Disney+ back in September, so I've been very efficient getting around to it. The second is Gillermo Del Toro's Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio. Normally, I hate when they do that "Director's Name's Whatever" thing to titles, it comes off as pretentious and boastful, but given the circumstances, I'm going to have to allow it this time. It released to Netflix this month.
It's been six years since Zootopia was released to theaters. In that time, a lot has happened. America has managed the change to two different presidents. Across the pond in the UK, where the movie was known as Zootropolis, they've managed to beat that turnover rate for heads of state with four new prime ministers, plus a new monarch. That's kind of prescient for a movie where the titular city burns through two mayors over the course of its plot.
In all that time, Zootopia has managed to remain popular with furries. It also, perhaps a bit surprisingly, has managed to remain popular with non-furries. It is one of only three Disney Animated Studio movies to break into the billion dollar club (the other two are both Frozen). It also managed critical and industry awards accolades to go along with the commercial success, giving it the hat trick of movie success criteria. So, a lot of people would probably not be averse to a sequel, right?
Well, how about a series of animated shorts released over half a decade later with little fanfare to a streaming service, instead?
Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers is the Disney+ streaming service's newest exclusive movie, directed by Akiva Schaffer and starring John Mulaney as the voice of Chip and Andy Samberg as Dale, the titular pair of cartoon chipmunks. The movie is mostly live action, but features cartoon characters interacting with this live action world. The movie's relationship with the Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers animated television show is a bit complicated. This movie is not a sequel or reboot, but instead takes as its premise that the characters of that show were actors playing parts in a world where cartoons and humans coexist.
The obvious point of comparison is the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit, made even more obvious by the fact that Roger Rabbit himself makes a small cameo in this movie. If anything, a few people have interpreted this as taking place in the same world as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, though I'd argue it's actually a bit more meta than that. Unless I'm getting this wrong, the Roger Rabbit that cameos here is another actor who played himself in a movie that is equally fictional in both our world and the world of this movie. Cartoon actors share their names with their characters, for whatever reason. But, the point is, the movie is very meta like that, and though it never explicitly acknowledges it's own fictionality, it's showbiz savvy characters are likely to treat their situation as if it were a movie.
Also like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a major appeal of the movie is nostalgia for its animated characters, both specifically for its titular duo, as well as a series of cameos and walk-ons from others. While this sort of thing can be fun, it can also come off as a cynical branding exercise. However, the movie manages to avoid the pitfalls of this sort of thing better than most.
Though it’s the baby of Oscar categories, the Best Animated Feature Academy Award will turn 21 this Sunday, meaning it would be old enough to drink alcohol in America, if it could actually do that. Encanto, Flee, Luca, The Mitchells vs. the Machines and Raya and the Last Dragon will compete to become the next recipient of the award.
First introduced in 2001, Best Animated Feature is the only “new” category to be introduced this century so far. Like many new categories, a few animated features had earned "Special Achievement" Oscars, starting with the original American made animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with another going to 1997’s Toy Story, as well as one to the live action/animated hybrid Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Other movie awards followed the Oscars, adding their own animated categories, though the Annies, which are for animation, had obviously been awarding Best Feature for a few years.
Since 2001, 20 movies have won the award, which is a nice round number for doing a countdown, worst to best. The following ranking is based on my opinions, and my opinions only. But, even if you think my rankings are horrible, no good, absolutely wrong, well, I’ve also included a lot of factoids and trivia, so that might be worth reading. Also, not all of the winners have been particularly furry, but most have something of interest to furries going on in them.
Before we start talking about the movie, due to the pretty unusual circumstances still happening in the world right now, we need to discuss what options are available to watch it. (With apologies to our non-North American readers, for whom none of this may apply.)
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, streaming has been the obvious or only way to watch movies reviewed by Flayrah. Raya and the Last Dragon, however, isn't free to stream right now. You'll have to pay Disney+'s $29.99 'Premier Access' fee, or buy a ticket at a theater.
Currently, this reviewer recommends the Premier Access route. It's more expensive, but factoring in the ability to re-watch it, group watching, and ongoing pandemic concerns, it feels a safer bet.
Anyway, Raya and the Last Dragon is from Walt Disney Animation Studios; directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, it stars Kelly Marie Tran as Raya and Awkwafina as Sisu, the titular last dragon.
Disney has posted a trailer (now two) for its next animated movie, Raya and the Last Dragon, which will have a release date of March 5, making it officially Walt Disney Animation Studio's first movie of this exciting new decade. It has a talking Eastern-style dragon in it, so that's furry.
Raya and the Last Dragon will release theatrically, but as actually going to movie theaters is still not really recommended at this point, it'll also be released on the Disney+ streaming service the same day, though with an additional "Premier Access" charge of $29.99 in the US.
The movie features Kelly Marie Tran as the titular Raya, with Awkwafina as the titular last dragon (meanwhile, Disney animation regular voice actor Alan Tudyk will once again be "voicing" a non-anthropomorphic animal; this time, the giant pillbug / armadillo creature Tuk Tuk). The movie is set in the fictional fantasy world of Kumandra.
Disney announced some furry bait titles coming to a screen near you in 2022. One is Turning Red, a movie about a girl who is cursed to transform into a red panda when she becomes too excited. Along with this is a new animated series around the 2016 movie Zootopia, called Zootopia+, which was covered in Rod O’Riley’s In-Fur-Nation. It seems to be set up as a slice of life, reality format that will follow the lives of side characters.
But for Nick’s partner in crime, their voice may be missing from any side cast shenanigans. After showing symptoms for COVID-19, Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister passed on. The wrestler had many roles in show business. They wrestled Hulk Hogan and were featured on Star Trek, but most furries would know them as the voice of the diminutive fox with an attitude that will “bite your face off.”
It seems 2022 can’t get here fast enough, and not just for the sake of furry films.
Disney launched its new streaming service, Disney+, earlier this week, though not without its share of hiccups (fortunately, the Pirates of the Caribbean did not eat the tourists). However, one strange glitch involving the popular furry movie Zootopia has people believing they've found proof of an alternate dimension where the movie is known as Zootropolis.
Could it be a "Mandela effect", where people remember history in a way that doesn't quite match up with our current universe? Named after Nelson Mandela, who apparently did not die in a South African prison the way some people seem to remember. Mandela effects are taken by believers to be signs of alternative realities, and that people with these kinds of memories are somehow sliding between different realities. Non-believers tend to think that they're caused by people inventing imaginary superpowers and pop sci-fi quantum realms rather than just admitting they don't know as much about South African history as they thought they did.
IDW has a new anthology comic sure to catch the interest of TV animation watchers — and furry fans: Disney Afternoon Giant. According to them, “It’s the first issue of a brand-new series featuring stories from your favorite Disney Afternoon shows! It’s a blast from the past in the present as we feature classic DuckTales, Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers, and Darkwing Duck stories, all together in one place for the first time!” The first issue features stories by Warren Spector and Ian Brill, with art by Leonel Castellani, Jose Massaroli, James Silvani, Jake Myler, and Braden Lamb.
Fans of the Ursa Major Award-winning rebooted DuckTales TV series (and they are myriad!) have a new resource at paw, thanks to teacher and illustrator Zack Giallongo. His new book is called DuckTales Doodles. “Draw, color, and create with your favorite characters from the all-new DuckTales series. Every page is packed with character doodles, from Scrooge McDuck to Webby Vanderquack. Tap into your artistic talents to bring these hilarious and exciting scenes to life! Solve a mystery and re-draw history!” It’s available now from Disney Press.
We learned about this through Cartoon Brew, though it’s been turning up in multiple places. It seems that the Disney Company has produced a new animated TV series based on the 1944 Donald Duck feature The Three Caballeros. But here’s the strange thing: The new series, Legends of the Three Caballeros, is only available through the Disneylife app — and only in the Philippines to boot. From the CB article: “Frank Angones, a co-producer on the new Ducktales, further commented on his Tumblr that the show has been finished for a while, even before the new Ducktales reboot was produced. He added, ‘It feels sort of like an alternate universe rooted more in the old Donald shorts than anything Barks-related – there’s no sign of Scrooge, the nephews, Gyro, Duckburg, lots of humans everywhere, etc., with April, May, and June standing in for the kid protagonists.'” 2019 is the 75th anniversary of the original film, so folks are hoping Disney will be inspired to release this new series in other parts of the world. Would you look at that: For once, we’re not the only ones whining about cool animation we can’t see in this country!
Looks as if IDW gets the honor of publishing the tie-in comic for Disney’s new DuckTales animated series. After a preview “issue #0” this last summer, the first issue of Disney DuckTales hit the shelves recently. “In ‘The Great Experiment of the Washing Machine,‘ Donald and the Nephews visit a top-secret lab, chock-full of crazy inventions to make life easier… but might make them shorter, instead! And then, learn ‘The Chilling Secret of the Lighthouse!'” The comic is written by Joe Caramagna and illustrated by Luca Usai and Gianfranco Florio.