Topic: Taco Trouble - An Object Lesson In Brickfilming
I'm putting this here, because it's technically not a release, even if you haven't seen it before, nor is it mine. Taco Trouble is an old film from way back in the past, but watching it made me think about a few things which might be of value to 'modern' brickfilmers, and could probably generate some interesting discussion.
I think that there is a lot to be learned about originality from this hilarious movie, and considering the approach of our latest conest, which is trying to encourage-out of the box thinking, that seems like a timely topic right now.
I'm including my review below to explain my thoughts. Most applicable to the discussion is the second half of this text:
Ah, Taco Trouble. Don’t let the release date at the top fool you, this one is a golden oldie. Emphasis on golden. Made back in the day when brickfilmers were largely mavericks, not greatly influenced by one another, freeing them to work more creatively using their own particular style, Taco Trouble has a style that has held up to this day, but the most important thing it will never lose is that it’s purely entertaining from start to finish.
This is probably the funniest brickfilm I’ve ever watched. I don’t know how to make this clearer, but you must watch this film now. Download it, add it to your collection.
Wisely following the most entertaining character, Mario Stradivarius, a bald, monotone-speaking man, who’s all business. We join him as he goes on a dangerous quest to find his helmeted former companion Biff Feedback, and his female companion Savannah Shell, who’ve been captured by a ridiculously over-the-top evil Dr. X.
Absolutely top notch, spot-on voice acting brings the quirky script to life. The delivery of Mario alone makes this movie worth watching, yet character after character, everyone deserves to be here, and adds to the fun and comedy. Advanced for it’s time is the digital facial effects, which, while primitive, add to the films charm, and to the characters.
The film ends in a spectacularly gruesome and laughingly out-of-place fight sequence, which apparently was the norm for lego films in those days. Give young men toys, and they will make them fight and bleed. Set to a funky jazz tune, it’s totally surreal, and yet, while being out of step with the rest of the movie, it manages to feel oddly appropriate.
If I may venture off course for a moment, there is an important lesson for the creators of brickfilms today, who may not have been around in the early days of this activity. The films with the greatest longevity, the most avid followers, and the fondest memories are not the ones with the spotless animation and clean lighting. Taco Trouble has neither of those. In fact, the animation, lighting, and cinematography are largely poor, from a technical standpoint (the exception being the sound effects, which are thorough and effective). Where it shines is in it’s story, in it’s writing, and in it’s characters. Everything else is easily overlooked because of that fact alone.
We also can witness the benefits which come from not following a set pattern, a system, a knowledge of what’s the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to do things. The standard minifig walk cycle is not followed here, it likely didn’t exist as we know it. Freed from this, the filmmaker used his own, and the result is a delightfully fitting leg-kicking movement, which gives all of the characters a sense of over-the-top absurdity simply by the way they get around. When Mario and his female companion need to sneak through the castle of Dr. X, they simply slide along. Yes, it’s a cheap ploy to simplify the animation, but it just fits, and it gives more spunk and style to a movie that hardly needed it.
There is no need for every movement to make sense, or be human-like. Minifigs don’t have to be human. They live in a world where they are magically brought to life through stop motion animation. You can do with them whatever you wish, and yet, increasingly, we choose to do the same things over and over, losing sight of the original freedom that stop motion animation afforded us in bringing to life these other-wise static toys.
Taco Trouble is not meant to be deep or thought-provoking, it’s meant to be enjoyed, and it succeeds better than almost any brickfilm ever created. In so doing, it leaves a lasting legacy of a time we can’t afford to forget, and accidently teaches us lessons we should pay attention to.
Discuss, I say! Discuss!