It's kind of ironic that - everywhere you look this week -
there seem to be a story or some photo essay related to the "Back to the Future" 25th Anniversary trilogy Blu-ray.
Lea Thompson, Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd at this week's party for the release of the Blu-ray version of the "Back to the Future" trilogy. Copyright 2010 Universal Studios HomeEntertainment, a Division of NBC Universal.All rights reserved
How so? Well, at least when it comes to animation industry
vet Gary Trousdale, he's been feeling a lot like Marty McFly lately. Given his
past (i.e. the film that basically launched his career - Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" - became available for purchase on Blu-ray earlier this month. More
to the point, "Waking Sleeping Beauty" - the acclaimed documentary that looks
back at Disney's Second Golden Age of Animation and the huge role that
Trousdale and his former directing partner, Kirk Wise, played in that
entertainment revolution - makes its DVD debut on November 30th) and his
present (i.e. the new Halloween special that Gary just directed, "Scared
Shrekless," premieres on NBC tonight. And the new DreamWorks Animation
production that Trousdale helped launch back in 2008, "MegaMind," arrives in
theaters next Friday) have all come crashing together over these past few
"I'm genuinely glad to see that 'Waking Sleeping Beauty' is
going to be available on DVD. I thought that Don (Hahn) did a wonderful job
with that documentary," Gary said. "I actually took my son - who's looking to
get into animation - to the theater to see that. He was very little when we
were making 'Beast.' So I thought that it was important that he see how things
used to be."
In a caricature that was made during the development of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," Gary Trousdale looks at Kirk Wise after he's just been blasted byHoward Ashman. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
As opposed to the way the animation industry is today. Where
- after spending an entire summer telling the world that "Shrek Forever After
is the final chapter of the Shrek saga - DreamWorks Animation then puts "Scared
Shrekless" out there via NBC.
"Yeah, the joke around here is that Shrek is going the
Barbra Streisand farewell tour route. Meaning that this character and that
franchise will say 'good-bye' multiple times before Shrek finally does go
away," Trousdale laughed. " Which is fine by me. I actually love working with
Shrek. He's DreamWorks Animation's signature character. Sort of our equivalent
to Mickey Mouse."
Copyright 2008 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All rights reserved
And given that Gary was the guy to first successfully
translate this big green ogre to the small screen (i.e. Trousdale was the
director on "Shrek the Halls," which initially aired on ABC back in November of
2007 and has since become a seasonal favorite) ... Well, it was kind of a
no-brainer that - once a Shrek-themed Halloween special was proposed - that
Trousdale would then land this assignment.
"And this gig came along at just the right time. I had just
stepped away from 'Master Mind' (Editor's note: This was "MegaMind" 's original
title. Back in the day when Ben Stiller and Robert Downey, Jr. were going to
voice the lead characters in this DreamWorks Animation production. Rather than
Will Ferrell and Brad Pitt) and was looking for something else to do. So when I
heard that DreamWorks was looking to do another Shrek TV special, something
that was Halloween-themed this time around, I jumped on that," Gary continued.
Copyright 2010 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All rights reserved
Which isn't to say that it was all that easy to come up with
a new seasonal story that would then work in the Shrek universe. One would service all of these great
fairy-tale characters while - at the same time - be Halloween appropriate.
"What really helped here is that Claire Morrissey had already done a
lot of work on 'Bride of Gingy.' Which was supposed to have been this
Shrek-themed theatrical short that the studio eventually decided not to make,"
Trousdale said. "So before we even really got started, we already had one
Halloween-themed story. So then it was just a matter of developing two more
story ideas as well as coming up with the wraparound for 'Scared Shrekless.' "
That touches on one aspect of this DreamWorks Animation
Halloween special that Gary and his team worked really hard on. Which is to
make sure that "Scared Shrekless" didn't come off as a knock-off of The
Simpsons' long-running Halloween tradition, its Treehouse of Horror
"We wanted to make sure that the story that framed 'Scared
Shrekless' was just as strong as the standalone stories," Trousdale explained.
"We also wanted to make sure that - when it came to the art direction and
camera work - that this Halloween special paid tribute to many of Hollywood's very
best horror films."
Which explain why - as "Scared Shrekless" gets underway -
Old Mean & Green just can't wait to start celebrating his favorite holiday.
Which is why Shrek challenges Donkey, Puss in Boots to join him at Lord
Farquaad's haunted castle for a scary storytelling contest. Where they then
share tales like the "Boots Motel" and "The Shrekorcist."
And the end result of all this effort airs tonight at 8 p.m.
Which - given how quickly "Scared Shrekless" came together - Trousdale thinks that TV special turned out pretty good.
Copyright 2010 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All rights reserved
"You have to understand that we only began animating this
back in April. And given that the 'Shrek Forever After' team was still trying
to finish up that movie at that time, we were pretty much on our own," Gary
said. "But even so, I think that we did a pretty great job here. That the Shrek
who appears in this Halloween special is the very same character who appears
in all the movies. That Shrek on the small screen is just as entertaining as he
is on the big screen."
So now that "Scared Shrekless" is wrapped up and all ready
to go, what's next for Trousdale? Is there another feature in his future?
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
"I hope so," he admitted. "But as of right now, all that's
on the horizon for me is that 3D version of 'Beauty and the Beast.' Which Disney
was supposed to have released this past Spring but then postponed from some
So - once again - we're back to the future with Gary
Trousdale. With a brand-new TV special debuting tonight and two Walt Disney
Studios Home Entertainment reminding the world what a huge talent this guy is.
So here's hoping that really is a new animated feature in Gary's not-so-distant
Gary Trousdale in his office at Dreamworks Animation. Copyright DreamWorksAnimation LLC. All rights reserved
Gary is an awesome talent. I worked with him on Disney's "Hunchback" some years ago. I hope he gets to direct another feature real soon.
"B&tB" 3D has been playing in Australia for a couple of months now. (Admittedly, only in selected cinemas) I took my nieces to see it and we all agreed it was fantastic. As soon as you see that first shot sweep through the forest in 3D, you know this is going to be cool. :-)
I saw the "Shrekless" special. Now, I happen to like the original Shrek, just to make it clear. But this special was lackluster. Beautifully animated, but pointless, and not a laugh anywhere. And where was Dragon?
I have to agree with Gigglesock on this. Though high standards for both animation and look, the stories fell flat. I wouldn't watch this again, much like every Shrek sequel.
Shrek is like Dreamworks' Mickey, huh? Except Mickey has styed vibrant and useful for, what, seventy years and Shrek is old, tired and boring after less than ten?
Let it go, fellas. There's nothing left in that particular well...