A little (and, perhaps, terrifying) insight into Life at the Susanka House: Whenever I hear a bit of voice-over/voice-acting work, I can’t really think straight until I’ve figured out who it is. Which guarantees that nobody else will think straight while I’m figuring it out.
- Curious about the guy from Home Depot’s “Let’s Do This” commercials? Easy. That’s Josh Lucas. (Not as good as Ed Harris’ work in their previous campaign, but perfectly serviceable.)
- Ever wonder why Highlander’s Kurgan sounds so much like “Justice League’s” Lex Luthor? They’re both Clancy Brown, of course. (Bonus voice-actor fact from that Lex clip? “JL’s” Amazo is voiced by Robert Picardo, who has pretty much been in All the Sci-Fi Things.)
- Trying to figure out why “The Last Airbender’s” warden sounds so much like George Takei? Because it is. (My second son, Séan, noticed that one, actually. Though he put it to me as “Why does this Sulu guy sound so much like the warden in “The Last Airbender?” An “Order of Knowing vs. Order of Being” example with which I am entirely comfortable.)
- Have you, too, spent a harrowing afternoon trying to figure out who was behind those Hyundai ads before realizing (shamefacedly) that it was The Dude?
- Scared yet?
Executive Producer John DiMaggio (“Futurama”) and Director Lawrence Shapiro along with Producer Tommy Reid grant a backstage pass into the fascinating and little known world of voice acting.
Is it great? Not entirely. It has too many talking heads for that. Is it understandable that a film so committed in bringing us The Faces that go with The Voices ends up feeling like it’s giving us a bit too much face-time? Maybe, but I just wanted more Faces-and-Voices in action than I got. I wanted to see them at work, not just talking about the work. And while it sounds fantastic — Heh. — the look of the thing is a bit too straight-forward for my tastes. Not as visually interesting as it could be, and there are moments when the softness of the focus actually made me squirm. (Again, understandable, given its intentions. Still holds things back a bit, I think.)
Perhaps it tries a bit too hard to convince me that voice acting is “real acting,” especially since I was already sold on that. Skirting the edges of “Protesteth Too Much” territory, methinks. And it’s not as wide-ranging a documentary as one might want, both in terms of the eras and the mediums it examines. It mostly hints at older generations of voice actors, rather than examining them. And it focus far more on animation and its challenges/”voice stars” than it does on other voice-over work, such as advertising or video games.
But with those things being said, there are great moments, as well. The voice casting and directing folks are fascinating to me. And the vocal tricks and unique little “tools of the trade” each actor brings to the table are really wonderful to watch (…er…hear). Plus, it’s shining a welcome light into more lesser-known (but no less important) corners of the Susanka Pop Cultural Experience. And there can never have too much Mark Hamill or Kevin Conroy, as far as I’m concerned. (Plus, I’ll be honest: The Jim Hanks reveal blew my mind. And the Mel Blanc stuff is great, unsurprisingly).
All in all, a ton of fun. …especially if you’re as obsessed with voice actors as I am. (If you are as obsessed with voice actors as I am, you might want to get that checked. It can’t be good for you.)