Sunday, June 14, 2009

So Close. . .Yet So Far Away

Has this ever happened to you?

You go to your nearest Redbox to get a movie you've been waiting for and, when you arrive at the DVD vending machine you are happy to find that it's actually in stock! You use your promotional code (because who actually wants to pay a dollar for a movie??) and you get the movie, take it home, pop some popcorn and plop down on your couch and wrap yourself in a blanket. . .only to find out the DVD you got was NOT the movie you wanted (the animated Iron Man, for example, rather than the wonderful feature film Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr.)!

Believe it or not, there are companies out there that specifically make films similar to those released in theaters because they think they can ride the fame wave and make some money off of it. They package it the same, use a premise that is very close to, but not copying the original. Most of these are bad, but some of them. . .well, they're worse. These aren't high-quality rip-offs.

Anyway, alert reader, Jeff brought to my attention the animated features of a company called Video Brinquedo (translation: Blatant Copied Ideas On Video) which operates in Brazil. Thank heavens that these films haven't made it to your Redbox yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were found at a dollar store or at that one supermarket in your neighborhood where no one seems to speak English. Let's take a look* at a couple of these and see if you can guess what animated film they are alluding to:

#1 - The Little Panda Fighter (Here's a hint: Guess what style of martial arts this Panda is using?)

Now, see, this could be a completely different animated film than the one starring Jack Black. This panda wants to be a dancer, he isn't a cook and he doesn't want to fight - he just wants to dance and he has to use Kung Fu to support his dancing habit. . . or something like that. This one could go either way.

Ok, let's take another look.

#2 - The Little Cars (Hint: Take out "the" and "little")

Hmmmmmmmmm. That sounds awfully familiar. But there are a LOT of toy cars out there and Pixar doesn't have the rights to any stories about a racing car that goes on an adventure, right?

#3 - Ratatoing (Hint: Do you really need a hint on this one?)

This is set in Brazil, not France. . .and that's about the only difference. Well, that and the animators seem to be drunk 10-year-olds who use computers that still have floppy drives.

Now, Video Brinquedo (or Toyland Video, as they're called in the US) has has been accused of distributing films with concepts plagiarized from films by Pixar, Dreamworks, and other major studios in other countries (WHAAAAAAAA?), but, as of yet they haven't been sued or stopped. However, it's only a matter of time as they produce videos such as (see if you can guess what they ripped off) Little Bee, Gladiformers, Tiny Robots, School of Princesses and What's Up?: Balloon to the Rescue!

Totally original.

Now, I've been a little harsh on Video Brinquedo, but I should say something good about them: their videos are usually only about 40 minutes long. ZING!

*Note: I apologize faithful readers, but in an ironic twist, Video Brinquedo doesn't allow people to embed their You Tube videos on other sites. Hmmmmmmm.


--jeff * said...

dear, wonderful joel: you never cease to amaze...

i'm not sure how to take these movies: at 40 minutes each, mst3k could do a great double feature, although these look to be "manos" quality. it's kind of a "train-wreck" interest, and i'm not sure if it's more incredible that people make them ("hi, i'm the director for 'ratatoing'") or that people buy them. i remember several years ago noticing a vhs tape in the grocery store called "the jungle king", with a lion sitting on a throne. an imdb search seems to show it's a different company.

what's interesting is that hollywood does a similar thing on a bigger scale, and it's kind of fun to play "match-up": "powder"/"phenomenon", "deep impact"/"armageddon", and the infamous "antz"/"bug's life", to name a few.

finally, your links continue to be sublime; i wish i had the time to follow each one on every post, as i'm always glad when i do.

may you continue to be excellent.

Lobbie said...