If there's one thing I don't like seeing, it's whenever a finished animated movie or show gets dropped or constantly delayed by the studio. While it's one thing for a film or show to be dropped in production and not finished, but it's another to be completely done while waiting to see the light of day. To work hard on something for many years and not have it get released is just a painful process and it's something I don't wish upon any filmmakers. Unfortunately, this happened with the crew of "Animal Crackers". This film had such a troubled production getting off the ground and getting out the gate that I wanna give it some slack. I'll get into more on what happened in a bit, but as a film, I have to be honest as a critic and say that this film was not very good. This was not a very fun animated film to sit through and just felt rather boring and lacked the fun it promises.
For many years, Buffalo Bob's Rootin' Tootin' Animal Circus has been delighting audiences with their many wild and funny performances and animal performances like no other. This brings a young girl to the circus named Zoe (Emily Blunt) who ends up meeting the owner's nephew, Owen (John Krasinski). Over time, the two fall in love and get married though Zoe's father Mr. Woodley (Wallace Shawn) disapproves of the circus and convinces Owen to leave it behind to work at Woodley's dog biscuit factory. Wanting to get in his good graces, Owen agrees and works at the factory tasting dog biscuits while trying to make new biscuits with the help of his partner Binky (Raven-Symoné) though it constantly gets ruined by the companies VIP employee Brock (Patrick Warburton). Seven years later, Owen's aunt and uncle perish in a tragic fire and Owen is given a box with mysterious animal crackers in them. After eating one shaped like a hamster, Owen turns into a hamster that shocks his wife and daughter Mackenzie (Lydia Rose Taylor). After returning to the circus, Owen is explained by the clown Chesterfield (Danny DeVito) that the animal crackers are magic and that they have been the secret to the circus' success. Wanting to get the circus back on track, Zoe and Owen take matters into their own hands to save the circus. Meanwhile, Buffalo Bob's estranged brother Horatio (Ian McKellen) wants to get the animal crackers so he can make his own circus successful and enlists the help of his henchman Zucchini (Gilbert Gottfried) to get them.
I feel so bad for this animated film and all the crew had to go through because the production of this film really seemed like a difficult time to go through. The film was initially picked up by The Weinstein Company in 2013 and was going to be released in 2017. However, the film went to Relativity Studios but the company went bankrupt and eventually couldn't release the film. It then went to studio Entertainment Studios with a release date of August 2018, but two months before the film was released, the studio dropped it. To make matters worse, the film even got leaked online though I didn't watch it out of respect to the filmmakers. Two years went by with no news of the film and then at the 2020 Annecy International Animated Film Festival, Netflix announced they had acquired the rights and would finally be released in July. While I am glad the film was able to see the light of day, at last, I couldn't really find myself enjoying this film and found it rather boring. The story had not much to the surface and felt standard. This is a story I've seen been done before many times and there's really nothing new the filmmakers bring to the table. One moment that stood out like a sore thumb was the montage sequence where the circus is being performed successfully while Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" is playing as the music in the background. It felt so stale and generic and only made me wish I was watching the amazing circus sequence from "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" that was set to Katy Perry's "Firework". It also doesn't help that most of the humor doesn't work in this film at all. None of the jokes landed and the one scene which did get a laugh out of me was for the wrong reasons. There's a crazy scene where Horatio and Zucchini sing a duet together and it's so amazingly bad that it made me laugh hysterically. The idea of having Ian McKellen and Gilbert Gottfried do a duet together is just so ridiculous that I couldn't help but laugh at how bad the idea was. As far as the animation goes, it's not impressive either. The computer animation feels very standard and basic and it didn't have anything that stepped up the bar. It just looked so painfully average and boring. Even by 2017 standards, this animation doesn't look amazing either as it reminded me of the other bad animated films of that year like "The Nut Job 2", "Spark: A Space Tail", and "Duck Duck Goose". That's not a good sign. As far as the characters go, most of them are all forgettable. In fact, I forgot all the character's names and only remembered them by the celebrities who played them and had to look up the names after the film was over. It also doesn't help that most of the cast felt so generically cast with the ones sticking out, in particular, being Wallace Shawn as the grumpy boss and Patrick Warburton as the stupid-self imposed employee. Owen and Zoe have nothing that makes them stand out, and Mackenzie just came across as cute with no other traits. I did like Chesterfield though, but only cause it was Danny DeVito and I always love seeing him in a film. Also, Ian McKellen had some laughable moments as the over the top villain, but I will say that he did remind me of his performance as The Toad from "Flushed Away" a little too much. Apart from that though, most of the other characters blended into the background or just annoyed me.
Sadly, I didn't find much to like about "Animal Crackers". The story felt like a paint by numbers story and was boring, the animation was unimpressive and lacking, and the characters were uninteresting and lifeless. Honestly, this wasn't a very good animated film and I don't recommend it very much. In my opinion, if you want a better-animated film focusing on the circus, watch "Dumbo" or "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" instead. Like good animal crackers, those films had lots of excitement and bite to it. This film, on the other hand, is instead pretty stale.