Once upon a time, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences created the Best Animated Feature category for the Academy Awards.
This has made a lot of people upset and is generally regarded as a bad move.
Seriously, though. Reaction to the Best Animated Feature Oscar was and is still mixed. On the one hand, the fact that this happened shortly after “Beauty and the Beast” was nominated for Best Picture did not go unnoticed, and it felt like animation was being relegated to a sort of “kids’ table”. On the other hand… … … I don’t know how to end that sentence.
What does all this have to do with today’s movie? Well, the only reason why I know “Romeo and Juliet: Sealed With A Kiss” exists is indirectly because of this Best Animated feature category. The world of animated films became far more cutthroat in the wake of it’s introduction. If something like the feature-length “Jimmy Neutron” movie could be nominated, certainly anything could be fair game (except, for some reason, animated films made by Richard Linkletter). And so, the most unlikely pieces of feature-length animation were given very brief theatrical runs in order to qualify for the Oscar. “Sealed With a Kiss” is one such film.
If it hadn’t gone for the gold, this movie would probably have wound up a direct-to-bargain-bin oddity. As such, it actually qualified for an Oscar, even though it deserves the kind of reputation “Titanic: The Legend Goes On” has.
Because this movie is bad. Really, really bad and annoying. I really wish it wasn’t because the story behind it is kind of mind-blowing. The whole movie was animated over the course of four years by one guy using Painter and Flash. I usually admire that kind of moxie. I wish I HAD that kind of moxie, and that kind of commitment (my attention span for personal art projects hovers just above the ACEO level). But if you’re going to spend four years hunched over your Wacom tablet, you might as well go for broke and make something that’s deeply personal and kind of insane (the good kind of insane).
Instead, this movie is so bloodless, it seems to have been made by committee on the cheap anyway. It’s also, ironically enough, a good argument for having lots of people working on the one movie, as it is incredibly inept. There’s a scene where the Mercutio character tells tired joke after tired joke and it seems to go on forever. And another character is so badly introduced into the story, she doesn’t get to tell us what her name is until her narration over the end credits! This was an hour or so I’ll never see again and after a while, I only kept watching to see how they’d deal with all the dying in the final act.
The Best Parts:
1 minutes in – Oh, man, I’m having “Happy Feet” flashbacks!
3 minutes in – You can tell it’s going to be a long, strange ride when even the filmmaker doesn’t seem to know where he’s going with this. And we’re only three minutes in.
12 minutes in – Romeo isn’t even bothering to sing.
19 minutes in – Cue that sad Des’ree song. (By the way, helpful reminder in this music video: “Romeo and Juliet” has a REALLY sad ending. Which kind of holds a dark shadow over this silly little seal cartoon.)
20 minutes in – Incidentally, this film is unaware that there is, in fact, a biological difference between seals and sea lions. Which you’d think would be something you should be aware of, if you’re going to spend four years making a movie about seals.
24 minutes in – And… here we go…
27 minutes in – Oh man, I don’t think I’m going to make it!
33 minutes in – So what kind of religion do these seals have, anyway?
34 minutes in – Jacob from “Lost” unavailable for comment.
35 minutes in – It was right here that it hit me that Romeo and Juliet look exactly the same.
38 minutes in – (Although I should really whip up a .gif of Leonardo DiCaprio shedding a single, horrified tear. M’eh, it’s late.)
Holy sh*t, this movie.
40 minutes in – They’re not even involved in the seals’ war, why do they care?
44 minutes in – Kissy Fish just brought this movie down to it’s Snow Fortress level.
47 minutes in – At this point, the only thing holding my interest is how they are going to deal with all the death that’s coming up in the original story.
49 minutes in – Oh. You know, this isn’t as much of a colossal bummer as it should be.
56 minutes in – I… I don’t even know anymore.
56 minutes in – I want to murder Kissy Fish. It’s painfully obvious that she was meant to be the breakout cute comedy relief character. She fails as hard as JarJar Binks in this regard.
1 hour, 3 minutes in – Oh, wow. This movie.
1 hour, 6 minutes in – I think it is also Party Time.
1 hour 7 minutes in – You know, I wish I could say this wasn’t the second movie in the space of one month I’ve seen where an irritating child character quotes the “Terminator” movies.
1 hour, 11 minutes in – This was like a challenge to “Animate the concept of Narm“.
1 hour, 13 minutes in – A-a-a-a-n-d tacked-on happy ending! Who didn’t see that coming.
1 hour, 14 minutes in – And on that night, the seals weren’t racist anymore!
“A fish by any other color would smell as sweet! Oh, Romeo, why can’t you change your color?” – Juliet (Yes, that’s the reason given as to why the Seal!Montagues and Seal!Capulets hate each other. Methinks the director didn’t think about this hard enough.)
Things I Learned from this Movie:
* – The northern Pacific coast looks like what would happen if DeviantArt threw up all over itself.
* – For the last time, if someone serves you a drink and it is fizzing and sparking, don’t drink it.
* – You know a movie is classy when it’s credits are in Comic Sans.
Things That Can Save Any Movie:
Cool Creatures? Racist seals.
Good Soundtrack? No.
Hot Guys? No.
Pretty Scenery? Actually, the backgrounds are kinda pretty, in a “LOL, digital painting” way. So the movie has that going for it. Which is nice.
Nifty Animation/Effects/Art Direction? If I knew the person who spent four years of his life making this movie all on his own, I… wouldn’t even know what to say to him.
Drinking Game Potential? Drink when you want to murder Kissy Fish.
Head Movie Potential? Actually, yeah.
Jon taking a good long stare up in the sky as he wonders and worries about the poor fellow who spent four long, lonely years on “Romeo and Juliet” – but with seals!
A Phil Nibbelink Productions Film released in 2006 by Indican Pictures. Written and directed by Phil Nibbelink.
Daniel and Tricia Trippett, and Chanelle Nibbelink as the irredeemably despicable voice of Kissy Fish.