Monday, September 22, 2014

Movie Review #33: I Know That Voice!

I'd seen this movie available on Netflix for a while, but never really looked at it until I saw Rob Paulsen post about it on Facebook. Until then, I had no idea it was a documentary about voice actors.

Short review: it's a fun documentary about an interesting community of people. If you have an interest in voice acting or are curious about the profession then I recommend it. If you don't have an interest in voice acting, well, this documentary might generate one.


John DiMaggio, tired of all of the misconceptions about voice acting, decided to get a documentary crew together to talk about it. They interview all sorts of voice actors, from early-era voice actors like Janet Waldo to modern-day heavyweights like Billy West. They discuss their influences, how they got into the industry, what the work entails, and more.


I have this bad habit of learning something and deciding that, yes, I want to dedicate some of my life proving I can do that. When I read enough comics or see enough artwork, I get inspired to draw something. When I hear about game design, I feel compelled to design a game. When I read a lot, I decide to start writing for a while.

So, after watching this documentary and listening to these top-notch voice actors describe what it takes to do what they do, naturally I thought, "yeah, I can do that." It's a really pompous thing to think but, to be honest, it's an important line of thought: it's the mindset that attracts the next generation. If nobody saw the shuttle launches during the space race and thought, "yeah, I can send rockets into space," then we wouldn't have modern rocket scientists. Maybe. It's probably more complex than I'm making it seem.

Anyway, the documentary was pretty fun to watch. There was a lot of animation going on that was occasionally distracting, but for the most part everything was shot well and the pacing kept me engaged.

One of the parts the editors clearly had a lot of fun with was the name and title of a person appeared at the bottom of the screen. For instance, we'd see Jim Cummings several times over the course of the film, and his name would pop up at the bottom each time. However, his title would change: first it would be, say, Pete from Kingdom Hearts, then Ray from Princess and the Frog, then Winnie the Pooh, then Tasmanian Devil, and so on. Clearly the movie was trying to convey the range of roles these people can portray.

Showing the actors' names each time served another purpose as well: for the most part, you don't know what these actors look like. You're familiar with their voices, not their appearance. I mean, who knew that the voice of this:

...looked like this:

They actually go into this lack of recognition in the documentary; the occasional frustration, sure, but mostly the benefits of not being recognized on the street or in restaurants and generally being allowed to become private citizens when their work is done.

Anyway, as I said, it's a neat look into another world that, were I not already in a fascinating world of my own, I'd be tempted to pursue. The documentary stands entirely on the interesting nature of its subject matter, as it doesn't really have an arc or story elements to drive it forward. Its structure is, simply, here's these actors comments about this subject, and then this subject, and so on until they run out of subjects. This structure is the recipe for many a dull documentary, but the excitement and the energy of the subjects of this documentary carry the film all the way through.

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