Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Voices In The Sky

"Hand me the f**king keys, you c******ker, what the f**k?"
I think I may have forgotten to mention that I have a Tumblr account associated with this blog. I was using it a year or so ago as a daily mini-blog, but then I kind of backed off of that. I have recently begun Tumblng anew, and I have made a couple of posts there in lieu of posting them here - specifically regarding Rocket Raccoon and the Guardians of the Galaxy movie.
However, if you didn't know about my Tumblr, you didn't see them.
In brief, I am very excited for the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and I have a few thoughts regarding the voice casting of the gun-wielding varmint known as Rocket Raccoon.
Quick digression: you should totally read the four-part mini-series from the 80s that lays out Rocket's origin story. It's delightfully irreverent (in an innocent, 80s way), and it has some great artwork by Mike Mignola. It's available for digital download through Marvel.
A rabbit, a raccoon, and a walrus walk into a spaceship . . . and kick butt.

Okay, here are my thoughts on the voice casting for Rocket Raccoon:
Disney, please don't use a big-name celebrity. I know that GOTG may be kind of a hard sell for non-comic-geek audiences, and I know that one way to draw people in is with actors who have immediate name recognition. Chris Pratt - who I think is an excellent choice for Peter Quill, by the way - elicits a "who?" from most people I mention him, too. Dave Bautista doesn't draw recognition from many people outside of the professional wrestling world. (Thank you for not making Drax all CGI, too.) Your biggest name on the team so far is Zoe Saldana as Gamora (excellent!), and, while that's a pretty big name, I suspect that you are feeling the need to add another big name in there, and - so far - there is no indication that Adam Warlock or Quasar will be included in the movie team. That leaves Groot, who doesn't say much, and the beloved Rocket Raccoon.
I will admit that - when I read the Guardians of the Galaxy comics and the Rocket Raccoon mini-series - in my head he did sound just a little bit like Danny DeVito, but that doesn't mean I think that's who should be cast.
There are so many hard-working and skilled voice actors out there, and, over the last couple of decades, they have lost many of the big jobs to actors who are better known for showing their faces on camera.
Let's look at some of Disney's most-beloved animated characters on screen:
In The Little Mermaid you have Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson) and Sebastian the crab (voiced by Samuel E. Wright.) Recognize those names? Probably not.
How about Paige O'Hara? (Belle in Beauty and the Beast.)
Phil Harris? (Baloo in The Jungle Book.)
Jonathan Freeman? (Jafar in Aladdin.)
Nowadays, those roles would probably be cast as Hayden Panettiere, Taye Diggs, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, and Benedict Cumberbatch. There's nothing wrong with those actors, they'd just have needed to be coached on the art of voice acting, and they'd also have been putting trained voice actors out of a job. (And, yes, I'm aware that many of those actors I just mentioned have recently done voice-over. That's kind of my point.)
"Just getting in shape. They say the microphone
adds ten pounds."

So, when it comes to casting the voice of Rocket Raccoon, I hope that we will see (hear) some of the hard-working voice pros (Phil Morris, John DiMaggio) get a shot instead of simply handing it over to a big name celeb - even Danny DeVito.