Disney may have "invented" it, but here are ten examples where live action footage blended with animation to become a cinematic statement all its own.
5. Mary Poppins
The venerable Walt Disney got his start mixing animation with live action. His initial "Alice" films found favor with early American audiences that were amazed by the combination of styles. So naturally, throughout the course of his career, Disney continued this trend, from Fantasia to Song of the South, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Pete's Dragon. But this undeniable masterwork does the best job of using both real people and pen and ink elements. From the famous "Jolly Holiday" sequence to the depiction of a 'veddy British' London on an L.A. soundstage, animators added the nuance to P.L. Travers' fantasies, creating a whole new world in the process.
4. The Lego Movie
MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT. If you haven't seen this post-modern sensation, we suggest you stop reading, pop down to your local Redbox (or crank up your HBO account) and check it out ASAP. Now that that's over with, we can go on to discuss this film's inclusion in this list. You see, the big twist here is that our stop-motion Master Builder Emmet (Chris Pratt) is actually a pawn in a pastime rivalry between a disgruntled human dad (Will Ferrell) and his imaginative son Finn (Jadon Sand). They end up reconciling, allowing the Lego world to flourish outside of specific designs and demands.
3. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
In order to realize the unique visual style of Bryan Lee O'Malley's popular graphic novels, director Edgar Wright decided to emulate the comics and come up with an artistic approach that would mimic a videogame while carefully balancing the realistic with the fictional. The result is a combination Looney Tune, Nintendo title, and hilarious human interaction. Wright, already known for his stylized work in such beloved films as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World's End, goes overboard here, turning each one of the title hero's trials into a clever callback to 8-bit ideals. It's like watching a comic book come to life.
2. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
As part of the premise in Wes Anderson's unusual road film, our hero (played with deadpan panache by Bill Murray) has a score to settle. Seems his beloved partner in underwater exploration was killed by a "Jaguar shark", and now Zissou has vowed revenge. In order to illustrate this seafaring terror, Anderson turned to another name on this list, Henry Selick, for some stop motion magic, with the results carefully integrated into the live action material. It turns the otherwise typical tale of an eccentric using equally peculiar means of measuring out oceanic justice into a psychedelic whirlwind of advanced Anderson whimsy.
1. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
When it arrived in theaters, no one had seen anything like it. Sure, Disney and its competitor, Warner Brothers, had defined the type by frequently combining its comical characters with live action elements (see this list and other films like The Three Caballeros, Pete's Dragon, et. al.), but rarely did an entire film rest solely on the interaction between real people and two-dimensional cartoon characters. Thanks to the hard work of the Oscar winning F/X team, including dozens of renowned artists, director Robert Zemeckis made a masterpiece, a near flawless fantasy that's waiting decades, now, for a long-delayed (and perhaps, unnecessary) sequel. It's just too good to recreate.
List This The Incredible Mr. Limpet Coonskin Volere Volare James and the Giant Peach Mary Poppins The Lego Movie Scott Pilgrim vs. The World The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The Phantom Tollbooth