What in the world is Bunyan & Babe?
Where did this take on the Paul Bunyan legend come from? Well, some of us have actually known about it for a while. Tony Bancroft, Disney veteran and the other Bancroft brother, was set to direct this film and MGM was set to release it.
That was years and years ago. We barely heard anything about it since... Now, out of the blue (ha ha, get it?), it's a thing...
At first, I kind of ignored the choppy, low budget animation and the whole direct-to-video feel of it. I was thinking, "Ok, let's see what they do with Paul Bunyan". But then the greedy land developer came in, I lost all interest. It's interesting to note that Mr. Bancroft also has a storyboard artist credit on Norm of the North, another cheapo animated movie that involved a greedy land developer. My guess is that Bancroft worked on an early, early version of that movie. A version that was probably far different from the one we ended up getting.
Bunyan & Babe is not necessarily awful-looking, it's not Norm of the North thankfully. It looks like a run-of-the-mill straight-to-video kids' flick. Plus, the Dove endorsement pretty much gives it away.
So how did this movie end up getting finished?
Exodus Film Group, one of the studios that bankrolled the 2008 MGM animated release Igor, were going to do this film next. Sparx did the animation for Igor, and were set to work on this as well. Then of course MGM filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late 2010, but after bouncing back, the film seemed to disappear. Sparx supposedly detached themselves from it. Bancroft seemingly moved on to other projects... I doesn't look like either of them worked on this final product.
It could be a Foodfight! situation where it was sold off to another studio after percolating for so long. Interestingly enough, the picture debuts on Google Play only on January 12th. It will be free for a limited time, too... The trailer says "Before it hits theaters"... Will it hit theaters? I also doubt that, it looks very straight-to-video, but if it does... Color me shocked, because that would be quite an experiment: Release a movie on Google Play only, then release it to theaters afterwards. Not too farfetched in a world with same-day-as-theaters VOD streaming and such. The best it can get at this rate is a very limited release like another Exodus animated movie: The Hero of Color City.
Not quite an event, but it's interesting to see where some long-brewing animated features go...
Also, a bit odd, we'll have two animated movies about bovines next year. This, and Blue Sky's Ferdinand.