CLOSE
Original image
Warner Bros.

A Guided Tour of Animaniacs: Volume 4

Original image
Warner Bros.

This past May, Rob Lammle told you more than you ever wanted to know about Animaniacs. Now, we’re back to tell you even more about Yakko, Wakko, Dot, and the rest of the animated crew. The show's remaining episodes hit DVD tomorrow in Animaniacs: Volume 4, so we sat down with Animaniacs creator Tom Ruegger and Rob Paulsen, the voice of Yakko, Pinky and many others, to get behind-the-scenes details about the show’s final episodes. Enjoy the show!

EPISODE 77: “THIS PUN FOR HIRE” / “STAR TRUCK” / “GO FISH” / “MULTIPLICATION SONG”

“This Pun for Hire”

TOM RUEGGER: This was written and executed about the time that Steven [Spielberg] was partnering up with Jeffrey [Katzenberg] to make DreamWorks. After the first season, I’d say this was Steven’s number one favorite cartoon because it was jam-packed with jokes and puns non-stop. It never stopped with its play on words and it also ended with “the stuff that DreamWorks are made of.” A very cute ending. I think it’s one of our best.

“Star Truck”


ROB PAULSEN: That was Maurice LaMarche doing a spot-on impression of William Shatner, which he’s been known to do quite often. As a matter of fact, he created on his own something called International Talk Like William Shatner Day, which Bill Shatner has sort of embraced.

“Multiplication Song”

RP: Yet another of Randy Rogel’s amazing nuggets. Every time Randy came up with another song, the bar was raised higher and higher. It wasn’t like he was [giving us harder songs] to throw us a curve. He would just come up with something more and more and more spectacular. In fact, there may even be something in the works with me and Randy doing his music live. We did a few live shows in Los Angeles and people really loved it. We’ll see what happens.

EPISODE 78: “THE SOUND OF WARNERS” / “YABBA DABBA BOO”

“The Sound of Warners”

RB: Tress MacNeille played “Julie Andrews” and one of the songs included the lyrics “the hills are alive in the town of Burbank.” How can you not enjoy that? Tress really did a great impression of Julie Andrews with that super sweet take on how she would phrase lyrics. Everyone knows how great [Tress] is playing Dot, but it’s nice to see her do some other characters in the show as well.

EPISODE 79: “MY MOTHER THE SQUIRREL” / “THE PARTY” / “OH! SAY CAN YOU SEE” / “THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS SONG”

TR: This is the only half-hour of Animaniacs that all three of my sons perform in. “Oh! Say Can You See” is with The Flame and my middle son Luke did the voice for The Flame in all the cartoons. On “My Mother The Squirrel” my oldest son Nathan did Skippy and my youngest son Cody did the bird.

“The Party”

RP: If I’m not mistaken, that’s the one with the parody of Christopher Walken. “Why won’t anyone talk to me? I’m Christopher Walken. Why won’t anyone say hello?" It’s really funny because, since then, we’ve all had the pleasure of at least knowing someone who has worked with Christopher Walken and, as much as we love him, they do say he’s kind of an eccentric fellow. [Laughs]

“The Twelve Days of Christmas Song”

TR: This is a little obscure bit of trivia that I don’t think anyone but the people working on the show would know. This song is where the little blue bird comes out and sings “The Twelve Days of Christmas” in this very bizarre way where everything was turtle doves and the last one is a gigantic, king-sized turtle dove. So, one day, my little son Cody comes home from school and he says, “I learned a Christmas carol today.” So I say, “Oh, let’s hear it.” And he sings it exactly the way it is in this cartoon. I immediately said, “Well, I’m picking you up from school tomorrow because we have a recording session.” So the next day I picked him up and brought him into the recording booth, put him in front of the mic and said, “Sing me that song you sang.” There was no thinking or writing or any intellectual exercise. We just said, “Let’s just record this and do it.” And that’s how the episode came about.

EPISODE 80: “DOT’S ENTERTAINMENT” / “THE GIRL WITH THE GOOGILY GOOP” / “GUNGA DOT”

“Dot’s Entertainment”

RP: Just the fact that they came up with Andy Lloyd Webby is hilarious to me. This was right during the time that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s plays were all doing amazing business. I mean, every time he came out with a musical, it was a hit. Mr. Webber’s predisposition to being a bit of a diva, I think, was brought to bear in that cartoon with, arguably, pretty hysterical results.

“The Girl with the Googily Goop”

RP: Part of the charm of the show was that, often, Tom Ruegger and Steven Spielberg and the rest of the bunch would pay homage to these wonderful old cartoons, and that gave Animaniacs the sort of vibe that the Warners had been around for a long time. They created this mythology around the Animaniacs that they were created years and years ago and were locked up in the water tower. It was fun that they did these little tips of the hat, which served two purposes. They gave the old cartoons the credit they deserved, but they brought another air of authenticity to the ethos and the mythology of the Warner brothers. It really gives the cartoons a timelessness that doesn’t go away.

TR: Desiree Goyette played Googily Goop in this, and she was, in fact, the same actress who, at that time, was playing the voice of Betty Boop in some cartoons. We didn’t have to work too strenuously to cast that one.

EPISODE 81: “SOCCER COACH SLAPPY” / “BELLY BUTTON BLUES” / “OUR FINAL SPACE CARTOON, WE PROMISE” / “VALUABLE LESSON”

“Soccer Coach Slappy”

TR: A year or two before this cartoon, we had made “Bumbi’s Mom,” where Skippy Squirrel is brought to the movie theater by Slappy to watch Bumbi and [is] traumatized by the death of Bumbi’s mom and wails and cries. So, my son Nate had been performing Skippy, and a lot of “Soccer Coach Slappy” has to do with Skippy taking a soccer ball in the face repeatedly and wailing afterward. He’s crying like a baby.

The day before my son Nate was recording, he basically said, “I refuse to play this role!” I said, “What?” He was pulling a total prima donna, Redd Foxx in a sitcom routine. “I’m not reading this crap!” [Laughs] He said, “I don’t want Skippy to cry. He’s older. He’s grown up and he shouldn’t be crying anymore.” So it was quite the negotiation to get him to do it. I think I even pulled some crying from another episode because he really, really balked at it.

EPISODE 82: “WAKKO’S 2-NOTE SONG” / “PANAMA CANAL” / “HELLO NURSE” / “THE BALLAD OF MAGELLAN” / "THE RETURN OF THE GREAT WAKKOROTTI” / “THE BIG WRAP PARTY TONIGHT”

“The Ballad of Magellan”

RP: I think this was John McCann and Paul Rugg who put the lyrics to this song. That was the genius of those two guys taking this innocuous American folk song and putting these fantastic goofball lyrics to it. It was also one of the times Jess, Tress, and myself got to do a really nice three-part harmony on a song. Really fun little piece.

Music was an integral part of the whole show, which is one of the reasons that when the show was coming along and auditioning, I was really excited. Not only were there going to be all new characters, there was going to be all brand new fresh music. You know, 35, 40 pieces for every half-hour, which is absolutely never done anymore because it’s so expensive. And it paid off.

To this day, one of the reasons people love Animaniacs, in large part, is because of the music.

“The Big Wrap Party Tonight”

TR:This is one that I wrote and it definitely is… I wouldn’t really say it’s a parody, but I would say that it’s inspired by a Cab Calloway song. I was listening to a lot of Cab Calloway at that time. There was something called “Everybody Eats When They Come to My House” that was one of his songs that I think, melodically and music-wise, this has something similar to that.

EPISODE 83: “ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO CLOCK”

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo Clock”

TR: The inspiration behind “One Flew Over the Cuckoo Clock” came from when I was a little kid. My Aunt K was in a retirement home. She wasn’t addled the way that Slappy gets addled here, but we definitely pushed the envelope here. We went for some heart and some emotion, which we had never done with Slappy. Some people didn’t want us to do that, but I thought it was worth at least exploring and, ultimately, it turns into kind of fun and slapstick. There are some moments, though, where Skippy is put through the wringer emotionally.

EPISODE 84: “CUTIE AND THE BEAST” / “BOO HAPPENS” / “NOEL”

“Cutie and the Beast”


RP: The Tasmanian Devil is voiced by Jim Cummings. To this day I believe, whenever they use the Tasmanian Devil, they use Jim. One of the great things about Jim, that many people know, is that he’s also the voice of Tigger and Winnie the Pooh. The guy’s got incredible range.

Jim, Maurice LaMarche, and I worked together on a show called Taz-Mania, about a year before Animaniacs hit the airwaves. So, by that time, Jim was really well established at the Tasmanian Devil.

I love the fact that Warner Bros. can lampoon a Disney show with characters that they have in their catalog and it’s totally believable as a parody. I really dig that.

“Noel”

RP: Another genius Randy Rogel song. It opened on Wakko writing a letter to Santa and he misspells Santa by writing S-A-N-T-L-A. Incredible stuff.

The episode’s ending is also funny as it’s done in silhouette with Yakko, Wakko, and Dot looking at the credits. It was very Mystery Science Theater 3000 with the three of us going, “Rob Paulsen? Who’s that jerk? Tress MacNielle? Oh my God. Diva diva diva. She needs her own limo.” All that kind of stuff. We just took the piss out of everybody on the show, including ourselves.

EPISODE 86: “A VERY VERY VERY VERY SPECIAL SHOW” / “NIGHT OF THE LIVING BUTTONS” / “SODA JERK”

“A Very Very Very Very Special Show”

RP: I remember that because we had won the George Foster Peabody Award, in real life, which of course is a very prestigious award for any cartoon to win—or really anybody to win. I think, as a result of that, they tried to do something that was way over the top and very saccharin and maudlin. Funny stuff—but that was a big deal for us to win that award.

EPISODE 87: “FROM BURBANK WITH LOVE” / “ANCHORS A-WARNERS” / “WHEN YOU’RE TRAVELING FROM NANTUCKET”

“When You’re Traveling From Nantucket”

RP: Another Randy Rogel masterpiece. When Randy and I did our little show, people freaked out because it’s not only stuff that they’d already heard but then they hear it again twenty years later and they go, “Oh my God. This is brilliant!” We even do some songs that never made it to the air that are every bit as amazing, but we basically ran out of shows. Randy wrote a song about the spice trade and the history of warfare. It’s really spectacular.

Randy could do anything. The bones in the body. Countries of the world. You know, he’s actually written a new verse now that includes all of the new countries of the world and the way the world has shifted since he wrote that twenty years ago. He’s got Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and Macedonia and Ivory Coast. Absolutely incredible. We perform it together. It’s great.

EPISODE 89: “TEN SHORT FILMS ABOUT WAKKO WARNER” / “NO TIME FOR LOVE” / “THE BOO NETWORK”

“The Boo Network”

RP: I worked on Chicken Boo. That was a very odd cartoon. Really strange and fun. It was Deanna Oliver who came up with this really bizarre, probably medication-induced, idea about a giant talking chicken.

EPISODE 91: “MOOSAGE IN A BOTTLE” / “BACK IN STYLE” / “BONES IN THE BODY”

“Bones in the Body"

RP: More Randy Rogel. I run out of superlatives. The guy is not only an incredible songwriter, but he’s also won seven or eight Emmy Awards. He was originally at Warner Bros. because of his writing skills on Batman: The Animated Series. He wrote some really incredible drama and I think he won an Emmy for some of those. Then, when Animaniacs was coming along, he knew he had this musical skill, but he had to convince Warner Bros. to hire him. They thought he was just the guy that could write drama. They weren’t sure he could do musical comedy. He said, “I can do that.” So his audition piece was“Yakko’s World”—the song about all the countries of the world. Crazy. And then he won a pile of Emmys for writing all those songs. He is the consummate overachiever.

EPISODE 92: “IT” / “DOT – THE MACADAMIA NUT” / “BULLY FOR SKIPPY”

TR: I felt that we really got back in the groove and hit a home run with episode 92. This entire half-hour was completely animated in Chicago by a company called StarToons led by a fellow named John McClenahan and it’s a beautiful half-hour.

“Dot – The Macadamia Nut”

RP: It was a pretty close parody of “Macarena” and it was pretty cute. I remember when that “Macarena” song came out and I got sick of it in about 30 seconds, so it was lovely that the Warner Bros. folks were able to come up with a really cute parody.

TR: We got Warner Bros. to get us a license for the music and I rewrote all the lyrics so it would just be a nutty Animaniacs version of “Macarena.”

“Bully for Skippy”

TR: This one was, maybe, the most political thing I ever wrote. It was in reaction to the FCC mandating that there be a very specific and heavy amount of hours per day in the TV schedule that’s educational for children, which ultimately impacted the kind of cartoons that channels could put on the air. The head of the FCC at that point was a fellow named Reed Hundt so we came up with this character named Reef Blunt. We animated him and had our characters at some Washington, DC hearing and Reef Blunt basically said, “We’re going to have educational cartoons and I’m going to be watching you!” He pointed at the Animaniacs characters and says, “Especially you, Miss Squirrel!” [Laughs] It’s really one of my favorites of the whole series. It’s a really funny cartoon.

EPISODE 93: “CUTE FIRST (ASK QUESTIONS LATER)” / “ACQUAINTANCES” / “HERE COMES ATTILA” / “BOO WONDER”

“Acquaintances"

RP: I was playing hockey at that time. One of my teammates was Matthew Perry from Friends, and I remember telling him that we were lampooning his show and he said, “Oh my God, I love [Animaniacs]! I really want to do it.” Unfortunately, we never did get him on the show because we were done before he got a chance to do it. I don’t think he missed anything because he was making a million dollars a week, so I think he was okay. [Laughs]

EPISODE 94: “MAGIC TIME” / “THE BRAIN’S APPRENTICE”

“The Brain’s Apprentice”

TR: This was our Sorcerer’s Apprentice cartoon and, again, animated by StarToons in Chicago.

RP: That was the last “Pinky and The Brain” segment in the context of the show, but then we got a spinoff. From Tiny Toon Adventures in the late 1980s to Taz-Mania to Animaniacs to Pinky and The Brain to Histeria! to Freakazoid—all these things that I got to work on [at Warner Bros.]—it was like an 11-year love fest. I was there two or three days every single week. The people that I worked with are still my friends to this day. We won Emmys. We had a great time. We all found our footing on that show and the stars really aligned for us.

I remember telling Tress MacNielle, “You’re going to want to take a picture of this because, unless you’re on The Simpsons, it just doesn’t get any better than this. You’re working with the best people on both sides of the glass and Steven Spielberg and the giant orchestra, Richard Stone, Randy Rogel, and all these great people. It’s career defining.

I tell people in interviews that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles really changed my career, but Animaniacs really changed my life. I’m incredibly grateful.

EPISODE 95: “HOORAY FOR NORTH HOLLYWOOD (PART I)” and EPISODE 96: “HOORAY FOR NORTH HOLLYWOOD (PART II)”

“Hooray for North Hollywood”

RP: I remember that Mr. Plotz was let go a couple of times on the show. He was even fired by his son at one point in a segment called “A Christmas Plotz” which was our take on A Christmas Carol. Interestingly, the guys who were the heads of the studio at the time, Bob Daly and Terry Semel, really used to get a kick out of the fact that the Warner brothers would lampoon the studio heads. It’s kind of cool when you have the people that are signing the checks every week to do these very expensive cartoons, are willing to let you take the piss out of them. [Laugh] That just shows you how their egos didn’t get in the way.

EPISODE 97: “THE CARPOOL” / “THE SUNSHINE SQUIRRELS”

“The Sunshine Squirrels”

TR: Phyllis Diller was in this one. It wasn’t one of her last performances, but I’m really glad that I had a chance to work with her.

EPISODE 98: “THE CHRISTMAS TREE” / “PUNCHLINE (PART I)” / “PROM NIGHT” / “PUNCHLINE (PART II)”

“The Christmas Tree”

TR: [This is] the last Slappy cartoon. One of the things I’ve noticed in watching some of these over the past few weeks—they did this sort of Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the cartoon back in the mid 90s, which is 15 or 16 years ago now. Al Roker was doing the ceremony back then, and he’s still doing it. So you think some of these references are going to be dated really quickly and, certainly some of them are, but in that case it’s not.

EPISODE 99: “BIRDS ON A WIRE” / “THE SCORING SESSION” / “THE ANIMANIACS SUITE”

“The Scoring Session” and “The Animaniacs Suite”

TR: These two cartoons are all about the music and Richard Stone. “The Scoring Session” was basically Richard having a much-needed rest at Camarillo, which was a mental institution out here in California at the time. [Laughs] So he’s being filled in at the scoring session by a composer named Nevel Nosenest (voiced by Michael McKean), a rhinoceros. The entire cast is in this and the Warners come and ruin the scoring session.

Here’s a very obscure tidbit: Nevel Nosenest’s name was created the night that my kids and I watched, and then were driving home from, the Spielberg cartoon An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. Nievel Nose Nest. That’s where we got the name from.

RP: I remember Richard Stone, God rest his soul, who called me and said, “Hey, we’re doing the last scoring session.” They were always held at the Clint Eastwood Scoring Stage over on the Warner Bros. lot, which is the same stage that Carl Stalling and Milt Franklyn and all those guys used to do the original Warner Bros. cartoons. They even used the same piano that Carl Stalling used. The ghosts in that studio are amazing.

For some reason, though, they had to switch to the really big scoring studio at 20th Century Fox and Richard called me and said, “Hey, just so you know, we know the show is ending and I’m doing this Animaniacs Suite. Do you want to come and see it?” And I’m telling you what, man. I was in tears because Richard did this beautiful rendition of a medley of the Animaniacs theme with different styles and it was just beautiful. I was in tears watching it.

It was really interesting because, not long after that, Richard developed pancreatic cancer and passed away far too young. I remember at his memorial service, which was held on the scoring stage at Warner Bros., we were all there singing our praises of this great man. The word “genius” gets thrown around a lot, but in his case it’s not hyperbole. He really was a genius and an amazing guy. It was almost as if he knew that he had to get all this stuff done because he knew he wasn’t going to live very long. Richard’s untimely death put a really profound, sweet period at the end of this whole thing. We knew it would never happen again with this group. It was very sad, but very sweet and a very appropriate way for the whole series to end.

Animaniacs: Volume 4 arrives on DVD February 5.


All images from Animaniacs: Volume 4.

arrow
entertainment
15 Super Facts About Megamind

In 2010, the superhero craze was on the rise in the wake of such hits as Spider-Man, The Dark Knight, and Iron Man. which made it the perfect time to launch a silly sendup of the genre. And so came Megamind, an animated action-comedy about a clumsy villain whose world turns upside down once he actually defeats his superhero nemesis.

1. THE PREMISE WAS INSPIRED BY SUPERMAN.

Essentially, the pitch boiled down to "What if Lex Luthor defeated Superman?" Except instead of Luthor being a wealthy, vicious human, the film offers Megamind (Will Ferrell), a cowardly, odd-looking (but still bald!) misfit from another planet. Metro Man (voiced by Brad Pitt) is more the Superman type, an alien from another planet who is strong, handsome, and can fly. It's easy for the people of Metro City to love Metro Man, whereas the oddball with the big blue head is instantly regarded as "other" and "bad." It's up to Megamind to prove himself, and find his true path.

2. IT WAS INTENDED AS A VEHICLE FOR BEN STILLER.

The original script by Alan Schoolcraft and Brent Simons was pitched to Ben Stiller's production company, Red Hour Films, with hopes he'd star as its titular baddie. "[It] was written as a live-action movie," Stiller explained in the spring of 2008. "But we thought it would work as an animated movie so we brought it to Jeffrey Katzenberg [CEO of DreamWorks Animation], and now we're in pre-production."

3. STILLER TURNED DOWN THE LEAD, BUT STILL PLAYED AN IMPORTANT PART IN MEGAMIND.

Instead of voicing Megamind, Stiller opted to executive produce the movie—but he does pop by for a quirky audio cameo as the curmudgeonly curator Bernard, who works at the Metro Man Museum.

4. PRODUCERS WANTED ROBERT DOWNEY JR. FOR THE LEAD.

Riding high off the career revitalization of his live-action superhero hit Iron Man, Downey was game to bring his sarcastic charms to Metro City's menace. But scheduling conflicts ultimately killed the deal. So producers turned to beloved funnyman Will Ferrell, who brought a zany charisma to Megamind, and some crucial gags.

5. THE FILM CYCLED THROUGH VARIOUS TITLES BEFORE MEGAMIND STUCK. 

In the fall of 2008, Stiller was teasing the movie as Master Mind. In that version, Megamind's longtime foe was named Uberman (a more overt spoof of Superman), but by spring of 2009, the title had changed to Oobermind, while Uberman had become Metro Man.

6. SEVERAL DIRECTORS TOOK A CRACK AT MEGAMIND

"There were two or three sets of directors on the movie, each of which started making a different version of the movie before it went to someone else," illustrator/author Jason Porath, who helped with the film as an employee at DreamWorks Animation, told Mental Floss.

The project was kicked off by Gary Trousdale, who had co-helmed a string of Disney animated movies including Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Next, Kyle Jefferson and Cameron Hood, who'd directed the DWA short "First Flight," were brought on. But the final version of Megamind is credited to Tom McGrath, who had co-directed Madagascar and Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa with Eric Darnell, and would go on to helm Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (also with Darnell) and Boss Baby. For their earlier efforts, Trousdale, Jefferson, and Hood ultimately received a special thanks credit on Megamind.

7. IT'S PRETTY COMMON FOR AN ANIMATED MOVIE TO CHANGE DIRECTORS. 

In the case of DreamWorks's How To Train Your Dragon, credited directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders were brought on about one year before the film's release. Then, the beloved movie about a boy and his pet dragon would have been unrecognizable to its fans. "At that point, I think Hiccup was like 9 or 10 years old, all the dragons could talk, and Toothless as we know him didn't exist," Porath tells us. "Those little bug-eyed tiny green dragons he fights for fish in the first movie, one of those was supposed to be his companion dragon. It was a lot closer to the book source material."

This practice extends far beyond DreamWorks: At Pixar, The Good Dinosaur went from Bob Peterson to Peter Sohn. Mark Andrews replaced Brenda Chapman on Brave, and Brad Bird took over directing duties from Jan Pinkava on Ratatouille. At Sony Pictures Animation, Hotel Transylvania cycled through six directors before committing to Genndy Tartakovsky.

8. OTHER VILLAINS VANISHED THROUGH PRODUCTION. 

DreamWorks Animation

One version of Megamind had its eponymous fiend as part of a supervillain league known as the Doom Syndicate. To concoct this crooked but colorful crew of criminals, DreamWorks had an open call, encouraging its artists to pitch villain ideas. Story artist Ryan Savas has publicly shared his sketches for such quirky baddies as White Zombie, The Barista, The Ectopus, the Liberace-inspired Rhinestone, and Alec Baldwin, who can "hypnotize his victims with awesome acting skills." But as the script became streamlined (and the budget got tighter) the Doom Syndicate was cut from Megamind, meaning characters like Destruction Worker, a smoking skeleton, and "geriatric flame-wielder" Hot Flash never made it to the big screen—but they didn't disappear completely.

Three years after the film's release, DreamWorks unleashed the video game Megamind: Ultimate Showdown for the Xbox 360 and PS3. Some of the Doom Syndicate characters reappeared here, including Hot Flash. But Porath told us the fiery old broad made her mark at the animation's offices as well. "Every year, DreamWorks Animation has a big Halloween costume contest," he shared. "And the winner one year was one of the producers who dressed up as Hot Flash."

9. SOME CHARACTERS WENT THROUGH RADICAL PHYSICAL CHANGES. 

Concept art reveals that love interest/journalist Roxanne Ritchie (Tina Fey) had a variety of longer haircuts before the filmmakers settled on her perky pixie cut. During his Uber Man days, Metro Man's Elvis-inspired look toyed with some more outlandish iterations, which involved fur collars, sunglasses, and plenty of glitter. Some test sketches even showed Megamind with spiky hair. But the biggest transformation came to the cunning character's devoted sidekick.

Though fans of the film have come to know Minion as a fanged, talking piranha who gets around in a robo-ape mechasuit, his origins were once far less fantastical. Early concept art shows a version of the character imagined as a chubby man with a tiny jetpack.

10. STILLER WANTED TO SATIRIZE THE SUPERHERO GENRE.

This is an image of Ben Stiller.
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

"This genre's been done so many times, that it's always interesting to try to find a postmodern version of it," Stiller told MTV. So he spearheaded a story about how people are not always what they seem.

Notably, this wasn't Stiller's first tme parodying superheroes and villains. In 1999, Stiller starred in the comedy Mystery Men, which followed a batch of wannabe superheroes as they face off with a nefarious foe who was way out of their league. Their powers included farting, bowling, being furious, and shoveling "well."

11. MEGAMIND UNDERWENT A GAG PASS TO MAKE IT EVEN FUNNIER. 

In an informative blog post, Porath explains that a "gag pass" is essentially the part toward the end of production where filmmakers find opportunities to work in more jokes. In this case, the writers and storyboard artists crafted humorous dialogue and visual gags. Meanwhile, Ferrell was encouraged to improvise to bring some more of his unique brand of comedy to the mix.

12. THE FILM'S MARKETING CAMPAIGN ACHIEVED A GUINNESS WORLD RECORD.

To promote the film, Ferrell invited all wannabe superheroes to suit up and join him for a party on October 4, 2010, just a month before the film's opening. But the event also set a Guinness World Record for Largest Gathering of Superheroes. With 1580 costumed attendees, Ferrell and his friends made hero history, breaking the old record by 79 superheroes.

13. THERE'S AN ANCHORMAN EASTER EGG

Toward the end of the movie, Megamind is channel surfing and crosses a news report about a water-skiing squirrel. A very similar story is covered in Ferrell's 2004 comedy, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

14. MEGAMIND WAS HURT BY DESPICABLE ME

Cruel timing meant that Megamind opened four months after audiences went wild for Universal's Despicable Me, an animated movie about a villain who goes good. While Megamind pulled in a decent $321 million worldwide, Despicable Me boasted $543 million, spawning sequels and a spinoff for its cuddlier Minions.

The closeness of their premises and release dates hurt Megamind with critics, too. Roger Ebert wrote, "This setup is bright and amusing, even if it does feel recycled from bits and pieces of such recent animated landmarks as The Incredibles with its superpowers and Despicable Me with its villain." USA Today's Claudia Puig was even more cutting, concluding, "Do we really need Megamind when Despicable Me is around?"

15. MEGAMIND FOUND REDEMPTION AS HOME ENTERTAINMENT. 

Released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 25, 2011, Megamind pulled in another $74 million in domestic sales. Readily available in this fashion, its popularity grew. Today, Megamind is warmly remembered and rewatched by fans happy to mispronounce "Metro City," "school," and "spider" like the lovable villain at its center. And despite its bumpy ride through production, it's fondly remembered by the fleets of artists who brought it to life.

You can see their enthusiasm in the blogs linked above, where they've proudly shared concept art and sketches. But perhaps Porath puts it best, declaring, "To put in perspective: almost every movie goes through radical shifts like this. Megamind had a bit longer journey than others, but not by much. I would by no means consider it an outlier. There were a phenomenal number of talented, funny people working to make it great, and it was a fun time at the studio. DreamWorks treated us all really well; I will never work for somewhere that took better care of me."

Original image
Courtesy Fathom Events // GKIDS
arrow
entertainment
Hayao Miyazaki's Greatest Hits Are Coming Back to Theaters This Fall
Original image
STUDIO GHIBLI FEST: Castle in the Sky
Courtesy Fathom Events // GKIDS

Get ready, anime fans. As part of an upcoming film festival, some of Japanese animation icon Hayao Miyazaki’s best-loved films will be coming back to U.S. movie theaters this fall.

Fathom Events and the North American animation distributor GKIDS are running a film festival devoted to Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki's Tokyo-based animation studio. As part of a series of monthly events that began in June, the festival will be showing Castle in the Sky, Nausicaä, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle. Earlier this summer, the festival showed My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service.

Due to the festival’s popularity, Studio Ghibli Fest is adding an extra day of showings, beginning with the August re-release of Castle in the Sky. Instead of two days of movies, there will be three screenings on three different days.

The films will be shown on the last Sunday of the month, with subsequent screenings the following Monday and Wednesday. The Sunday and Wednesday films will be dubbed in English, while the Monday showings will have subtitles. The festival runs until November 29.

Since it’s through Fathom Events, the films will be shown at hundreds of theaters around the country. You can check where screenings are available near you by entering your ZIP code here.

Miyazaki is technically retired, but he hasn't been able to resist the call of Studio Ghibli. He's scheduled to release Boro the Caterpillar, a film he's calling his last (several years after saying the same about 2013's The Wind Also Rises) in 2019. So maybe we can expect an extended Studio Ghibli Fest in a few years.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios