Animal Crackers
An assortment of animals coming out of a box as animal crackers border the movie poster.
Theatrical release poster designed by Sava
Directed by
Written by
Produced by
  • Scott Christian Sava
  • George Lee
  • Marcus Englefield
  • Jamie Thomason
  • Leiming Guan
  • Jaime Maestro
  • Nathalie Martinez
  • Ty Accornero
Starring
Edited byXimo Romero
Music byBear McCreary[1]
Production
companies
  • Blue Dream Studios
  • Storyoscopic Films
  • Odin's Eye Animation
  • Mayday Movie Productions
  • Beijing Wen Hua Dongrun Investment Co.
  • China Film Group Corporation
Distributed byNetflix
Release dates
  • June 12, 2017 (2017-06-12) (Annecy)
  • July 21, 2018 (2018-07-21) (China)
  • July 24, 2020 (2020-07-24) (United States)
Running time
105 minutes
Countries
  • United States
  • Spain
  • China
LanguageEnglish
Budget$17 million[2]
Box office$14 million[3]

Animal Crackers is a 2017 animated comedy-fantasy film directed by Scott Christian Sava and Tony Bancroft, written by Sava and Dean Lorey and based on the animal-shaped cookie (and also loosely on the graphic novel by Sava).[4] The film stars the voices of Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Danny DeVito, Ian McKellen, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Warburton, Raven-Symoné, Harvey Fierstein, Wallace Shawn, Gilbert Gottfried, Tara Strong, James Arnold Taylor, Kevin Grevioux and Lydia Rose Taylor in her film debut. It tells the story of a family who comes across a box of magical animal crackers that turns anyone that consumes a cracker into the animal that the cracker represents and this animal handily saves the circus that the family was associated with.

The film premiered at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival on June 12, 2017. It was released in China on July 21, 2018.[3] It was released on Netflix on July 24, 2020, to mixed-to-positive reviews from critics.[5]

Plot

In 1962, brothers "Buffalo" Bob and Horatio Huntington run a traveling circus together, doing well in spite of their vastly different personalities. After a show, the circus' resident gypsy fortune teller Esmerelda presents her beautiful niece Talia to her employers, asking them to give her a job. Bob and Horatio are both immediately smitten with the lovely woman, but her affections are solely for Bob.

When the pair announce their plans to marry in 1964, Horatio becomes furious and delivers an ultimatum to his brother to choose either him or Talia. Bob marries Talia and Esmerelda gives them a mysterious box as a wedding gift, which allows them to open a new circus. Buffalo Bob's Rootin' Tootin' Animal Circus, known for animals performing amazing and seemingly impossible feats.

Years later, Bob's nephew Owen marries his childhood friend Zoe at the circus where they had first met as kids. Following the initial excitement however, Owen soon discovers he now has to work as a taste tester for Zoe's father Mr. Woodley at his dog biscuit factory. His co-worker Binkley is trying to create a new type of dog biscuit which keeps getting ruined by Mr. Woodley's personal assistant Brock.

A few years later, Horatio, whose luck has taken a serious downturn since his fight and split with Bob, sneaks into Bob and Talia's dressing rooms, trying to find the secret to the magic animals, and accidentally starts a fire which apparently kills Bob and Talia. Their funeral is attended by Owen, Zoe, and their daughter Mackenzie. Horatio makes an unexpected visit and announces that he'll be taking over the circus. Huntington and his henchmen Mario Zucchini, Samson, Stabby, and El Diablo start a fight, causing the Huntingtons to leave.

Before they leave, circus pets Old Blue and Zena give the Huntingtons the mysterious box, they later discover it holds animal crackers. Owen eats one and turns into a hamster. The Huntingtons return to the circus to figure out how this happened. They learn from the clown Chesterfield that the animal crackers will turn the user into the animal they eat, but it contains only one human cookie to change them back. Later, he tells them they inherited the circus. Zoe is excited, but Owen, determined to please Mr. Woodley, decides to continue his job. Zoe restores the circus while Owen stays at the dog biscuit factory. Frustrated that Zoe quit her job, Mr. Woodley begins to consider Brock as her replacement.

Buffalo Bob's Rootin' Tootin' Animal Circus reopens, but is a disaster upon the discovery of no animals. Owen reluctantly decides to eat the animal crackers and performs stunts as an animal. By the end of the day, Owen grows to like it and decides to quit his job. As his finishes packing up though, Brock unwittingly eats one of the cookies and turns into a mandrill. To catch up with him, Owen turns into a lion, but Brock gets captured by Mario Zucchini, who also steals cookie pieces. Upon returning home, Owen soon discovers he has lost the human cookie and will remain an animal forever. He attempts to adapt to life as a different animal, but has little success. Binkley discovers the animal crackers and aggressively persuades Mr. Woodley to attend the circus.

At one performance, Horatio appears and offers Owen's gorilla form his human cookie (which Mario had also unknowingly stolen) in exchange for the circus. Owen refuses, thinking that remaining an animal will at least keep his family together, but he is forced into the deal by Horatio's hybridized henchmen as they help Horatio force-feed him the human cookie. The circus performers then come across the scene and a fight breaks out, with some of them assuming animal forms to fight.

As his henchmen are defeated, Horatio eats some crackers and turns into a six-limbed chimera. He then is confronted by Old Blue and Zena who reveal themselves as Bob and Talia, alive but forever trapped in animal form due to the destruction of their human cookies in the fire. They ask Horatio to redeem himself, but he refuses despite being horrified with what happened. Horatio flies up while grasping them. Owen uses Bullet Man in his rhinoceros form to shoot down Horatio as he, Horatio and Bob land in the net while Mackenzie turns into a Golden snub-nosed monkey to save Talia. Afterwards, Owen, Zoe, and Mackenzie, and the circus performers work together to subdue Horatio. As Horatio vows to have his revenge, Owen turns him into a hamster as Bullet Man quotes In Memoriam A.H.H. from Alfred Lord Tennyson.

As the circus performers, Zoe, and Mackenzie regain their human forms, Chesterfield gleefully tells the caged henchmen that their human cookies are broken as a side-effect of eating the broken pieces and it will take him awhile to figure out whose parts go to whom. Mario subsequently tells Chesterfield to take his time with the others in agreement. Horatio demands to be released from his hamster cage to no avail as he starts running on a hamster wheel.

Having witnessed the performance and Brock still being in mandrill form, Mr. Woodley reevaluates his views on both Owen and the circus. With Binkley, he decides to create a new circus souvenir using her failed experiments. By the next show, they have made animal crackers that cause the eater's skin to temporarily take on the color and patterns of the animal whose cracker they eat. Owen consumes a new animal cracker that just appeared in the box and takes the stage as a dragon.

Cast

Additional voices by Cam Clarke, Lara Cody, Debi Derryberry, Jessica Gee, Grant George, Max Koch, Brianne Siddall, and Jennie Yee

Production

Development and writing

In 2011, Scott Christian Sava wrote a comic book for Animal Crackers but was unable to garner any interest. In June 2013, Harvey Weinstein had seen a short film of the screenplay made by Sava[20] and two months later the Weinstein brothers made an offer to buy the rights to Animal Crackers.[21] Sava co-directed the movie with Tony Bancroft and co-wrote the screenplay with Dean Lorey.[21]

Financing the movie were executive producers Mu Yedong on behalf of Wen Hua Dongrun Investment Co., La Peikang, board chairman of China Film Co., and Sam Chi for Landmark Asia.[22]

Despicable Me character designer, Carter Goodrich, was hired in October 2014.[23]

Pre-production

The voice cast was completed by casting director Jamie Thomason who also serves as the voice director.[9]

In the last week of October and throughout November, 2014, Sava via the Animal Crackers Facebook page, there were sneak peeks to the look of some characters along with announcing the voice cast for those characters Kevin Grevioux as Samson the Strong Man,[18] James Arnold Taylor as Buffalo Bob,[17] Tara Strong as Talia,[16] Harvey Fierstein as Esmerelda the Fortune Teller,[14] Gilbert Gottfried as Mario Zucchini,[15] and Raven-Symoné as Binkley.[12]

On November 6, 2014, Blue Dream Studios announced Sylvester Stallone, Danny DeVito, and Ian McKellen as lead voice cast.[9] On February 3, 2015, John Krasinski and Kaley Cuoco joined the cast as Owen and Zoe Huntington, respectively.[6] On March 30, 2015, Emily Blunt replaced Cuoco due to a scheduling conflict.[8]

"When I was writing Animal Crackers I had specific voices in my head. Certain characters I wrote with actors in mind. Horatio was always Sir Ian McKellen. Brock was totally Patrick Warburton. Bullet-Man could be no one else but Stallone! To find out that each and every one of these actors have agreed to come on board this film and bring these characters to life… I'm flipping out," said Sava.[9]

It was announced via Sava's Facebook page that his son, Brendan, would play 12-year-old Owen Huntington and his wife, Donna, would play the Fat Lady.[citation needed] On May 22, 2015, it was revealed that Wallace Shawn had been cast as Mr. Woodley, Zoe's (Blunt) father.[13]

Animation

The film's animation is created on Autodesk Maya, and rendered on Arnold, in an effort to save costs, it was produced in Blue Dream Studios Spain an 5,000-square foot house Valencia that the director Sava founded In early 2014, more than 120 animators worked on the film.

Filming

On January 27, 2015, Sava announced on Facebook via the Animal Crackers page that first day of "studio sessions with the actors" began in Los Angeles.[6]

Music

The film's original score was composed by Bear McCreary,[1] and its soundtrack includes original songs by Toad the Wet Sprocket, Huey Lewis and the News, Howard Jones, and Michael Bublé.[24]

Soundtrack

Animal Crackers: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedJuly 17, 2020
Recorded2015-2016
GenreFilm soundtrack
Length46:25
LabelSony Masterworks
Track listing
No.TitleMusicLength
1."Welcome" (John Adair version)Ian McKellen2:08
2."While We're Young"Huey Lewis and the News3:40
3."Like That"Fleur East3:08
4."The Tractor"Chris McDougall, Leslie Austin, Dayan Kai2:39
5."Master of the Ring"Connor Clark2:50
6."Could've Been Mine"Ian McKellen, Gilbert Gottfried2:09
7."We're in This Together"Howard Jones4:52
8."Don't Stop Me Now" (2011 remaster)Queen3:12
9."One of Those Days"Toad the Wet Sprocket2:42
10."Today (Is Yesterday's Tomorrow)"Michael Bublé3:22
11."Lost and Found"Katie Herzig4:43
12."Animal Crackers Overture"Bear McCreary5:22
13."Papa Bear"Bear McCreary2:57
14."Showtime"Bear McCreary2:23
Total length:46:25

Score

Animal Crackers: Original Motion Picture Score
Film score by
ReleasedJuly 17, 2020
Recorded2017
GenreScore
Length1:14:03
LabelSony Classical
Bear McCreary chronology
Fantasy Island: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
(2020)
Animal Crackers: Original Motion Picture Score
(2020)

All tracks written and composed by Bear McCreary.

Track listing
No.TitleLength
1."Animal Crackers Overture" (Extended Version)5:51
2."The Huntington Brothers"3:28
3."Life at the Circus"3:59
4."The Dog Food Factory"4:54
5."News of the Fire"1:45
6."Circus Memorial"3:58
7."Holy Moly"2:35
8."Zucchini Chase"4:16
9."Little Cookie Me"3:22
10."The Magic Is Gone"3:01
11."Brock and Woodley"3:43
12."Papa Bear" (Extended Version)3:13
13."A Helping Hoof"1:58
14."The Tiger"3:14
15."Monkeying Around"3:58
16."An Offer From Horatio"3:40
17."Freak Fight"3:54
18."Chimera"5:57
19."Showtime" (Extended Version)6:40
Total length:1:12:58
Bonus tracks
No.TitleLength
20."Fanfare for Bulletman"0:45
21."Blue Dream Studios Logo"0:20
Total length:1:14:03

Release

Theatrical

The film had its world premiere in competition at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival on June 12, 2017.[25][26] The film was originally set to be released on April 28, 2017 by Relativity Media, however, a financial crisis within the company prevented them from releasing the film. It was then set to be released on September 1, 2017 by upstart film studio Serafini Releasing before they also shut down.[27] A few months later, in November 2017, it was announced that Entertainment Studios would distribute the film worldwide. In April, Sava posted on Facebook that the film was set for a release date of August 10, 2018.[28] The deal with Entertainment Studios was dropped in June 2018.[29]

Eventually, the distribution rights were bought by Netflix and the film was released on July 24, 2020 on the platform.[30][5] It was the second-most streamed film on its opening weekend.[31]

Home media

The film was released on digital and on-demand on April 18, 2023 by Lionsgate and Gravitas Ventures.[32] Allied Vaughn would later release the film on DVD and Blu-Ray on October 3, 2023.[33] These releases were not authenticated or approved by director Scott Christian Sava, and are presumed to be licensed through investor Mayday Productions or another unknown outside entity.[34]

Reception

Critical response

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 64% based on 22 reviews, with an average rating of 6.00/10. It had a critical consensus which read: "Animal Crackers is far from the most distinctive animated fare, but its wacky humor and zippy speed make it a decent diversion for younger viewers."[35] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 60 out of 100 based on 5 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[36]

References

  1. ^ a b "Bear McCreary to Score 'Animal Crackers'". Film Score Monthly. July 8, 2016. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  2. ^ Mintzer, Jordan (June 16, 2017). "'Animal Crackers': Film Review | Annecy 2017". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 5, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Animal Crackers".
  4. ^ "Animal Crackers". July 22, 2017. Archived from the original on September 28, 2020. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Desowitz, Bill (June 15, 2020). "'Animal Crackers' Trailer: Netflix's Rescued Animated Feature Gets Summer Streaming Date". Indie Wire. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d Dominio Patten (February 3, 2015). "'Animal Crackers' Adds Kaley Cuoco & John Krasinski To Voice Cast – Berlin". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  7. ^ Scott Christian Sava (February 5, 2015). "How wonderful is @johnkrasinski? My son Brendan is playing "young Owen"…". Tumblr. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  8. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 30, 2015). "Emily Blunt Takes Bite Of 'Animal Crackers'; 'Neon Demon' Cast Is Set – Film Briefs". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Jeff Sneider (November 6, 2014). "Sylvester Stallone, Danny DeVito, Ian McKellen Lead 'Animal Crackers' Voice Cast". TheWrap. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  10. ^ Scott Christian Sava (March 24, 2015). "n/a". Facebook. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  11. ^ Scott Christian Sava (July 30, 2015). "Horatio P. Huntington (Sir Ian McKellen)". Facebook. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
  12. ^ a b Scott Christian Sava (November 17, 2014). "When we set out to cast the voice of Binkley… Jamie was quick to push Raven-Symoné to the top of the list. And quite honestly… we never looked further…". Facebook. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  13. ^ a b Scott Christian Sava (May 22, 2015). "Ladies and gentlemen… Zoe's (Emily Blunt) dad, MR. WOODLEY played by the incomparable Wallace Shawn!…". Facebook. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
  14. ^ a b Scott Christian Sava (November 12, 2014). "Esmerelda the Fortune Teller… Yes… I named our 67 Cougar after a character from the movie. Yes… it's awesome!". Facebook. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  15. ^ a b Scott Christian Sava (November 13, 2014). "Mario Zucchini was written as a "henchman" who's [sic] "schtick" is he only speaks Italian… except… he doesn't know Italian…". Facebook. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  16. ^ a b Scott Christian Sava (November 1, 2014). "Final SNEAK PEEK of the week…Talia will be played by the Inimitable (I looked it up… it means incapable of being imitated, matchless, irreplaceable) Tara Strong!…". Facebook. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  17. ^ a b Scott Christian Sava (October 31, 2014). "Another SNEAK PEEK today! Buffalo Bob (circa 1960's) to be played by the great James Taylor (Obi-freakin-Wan Kenobi on Clone Wars)!!!…". Facebook. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  18. ^ a b Scott Christian Sava (October 30, 2014). "Here is a SNEAK PEEK at one of our characters!…". Facebook. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  19. ^ Mintzer, Jordan (June 16, 2017). "'Animal Crackers': Film Review | Annecy 2017". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 22, 2022.
  20. ^ Blue Dream Studios (April 2013). "Animal Crackers "Proof of Concept" Test". Vimeo. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  21. ^ a b Keith Ryan Cartwright (December 2, 2014). "Franklin father turns 'Animal Crackers' for kids into feature film". tennessean.com. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  22. ^ Dave McNary (November 5, 2014). "Chinese Investors Board Animated 'Animal Crackers' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  23. ^ Wendy Mitchell (October 24, 2014). "Odin's Eye boards Animal Crackers". Screen Daily. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  24. ^ "Interview: Dean Dinning of Toad the Wet Sprocket". Surviving the Golden Age. May 23, 2017. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  25. ^ "Despicable Me 3, Animal Crackers to Debut at Annecy Fest". The Hollywood Reporter. April 24, 2017.
  26. ^ "Annecy Unveils Full Lineup Of 23 Animated Features". April 24, 2017.
  27. ^ Scott Christian Sava (February 21, 2018). "UPDATE! So… what's going on with the release date?". Facebook. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  28. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 29, 2017). "Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios Bites Into Animal Crackers, Eyes 2018 Release". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  29. ^ "After 7 months of waiting… and waiting… and waiting, we're done". Facebook.
  30. ^ Hopewell, John (May 20, 2020). "Netflix's 'The Cuphead Show!' 'Nezha Reborn,' 'The Summit of the Gods' Set for Annecy". Variety. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  31. ^ Brueggemann, Tom (July 27, 2020). "'The Rental' Is Second Film Ever to Be #1 on Both Theatrical and VOD Charts at Same Time". IndieWire. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  32. ^ Lionsgate Brings Magical Circus Adventure ‘Animal Crackers’ Home in April
  33. ^ Animal Crackers
  34. ^ "Hi all! I found a PIRATED copy of my movie Animal Crackers on Amazon and I just wanted to warn you about it". Facebook.
  35. ^ "Animal Crackers (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 4, 2020.
  36. ^ "Animal Crackers (2020)". Metacritic. Retrieved July 25, 2020.