Animated movies have been a large fixture throughout cinematic history. There is currently an Academy Award category devoted entirely to animated features. They are an important part of the cinematic landscape. Movies would be completely different if not for the animated films that have been popular throughout the past century.
Children have always been a large part of the popularity of cartoons. This has not been solely a movie based genre. Television also thrives on animated shows. As a child, I can remember watching cartoons on Saturday mornings. In the children’s cartoons, characters could be forced into dangerous predicaments, get injured or nearly killed, and continue on with their lives as if nothing ever happened to them. This was the way of cartoons such as Looney Toons, where Elmer Fudd, Wile E. Coyote, Daffy Duck, and Yosemite Sam would always suffer great physical trauma, then return to their normal selves in the next scene.
Many movies have continued this trend of cartoonish injury. These movies are live action cartoons. The movie being focused on for this discussion is Baby’s Day Out, which can highlight much of what is meant by the term “live action cartoon.”
A live action cartoon is a term that I use for movies that feel like cartoons, yet they are not animated. Baby’s Day Out was a great example of this style of filmmaking. The main character was a baby, who was being chased by some rather ridiculous criminals. The movie flowed as a series of locations in which crazy things happen to the criminals while the baby stayed conveniently out of harm’s way. It was a basic plot that was reminiscent of cartoons such as the Mindy and Buttons segments of the show Animaniacs.
The other major factor in categorizing Baby’s Day Out as a live action cartoon is how large certain comedic beats were. This came in the form of the injuries suffered by the criminal characters. There are falls from great heights, fights with animals, and an instance in which some clothes got lit on fire. These scenarios are played for comedy, and take place in a more outlandish world. To elaborate on what I mean by this, I am going to look at the fights with animals. Specifically, the three criminals fought with a gorilla whose cage was where the baby happened to be. One man got his hand comically broken. Another character got thrown way up in the air, beyond the camera frame, to an assumed extraordinary height. The third character got thrown across the room into another cage where he was then tangled up in the newly twisted bars. These three injuries were portrayed as they would be in a cartoon, except Baby’s Day Out used live actors.
Different movies take different stylistic elements in order to better support their story. The story of Baby’s Day Out was a simplistic, cartoon-like story, and the use of a cartoonish style only helped to strengthen it. The idea of a live action cartoon is an interesting idea, and Baby’s Day Out proved that it could work.
The magical thing about a movie is that the material can be anything from a serious drama to a live action cartoon. It all comes down to the director’s vision and the material being worked with. If more movies would have the perfect style complimenting the material, everyone would have more movies to love. I love movies.
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