AUTOMATONS - AUTOMATONS - AUTOMATONS -- What are they' What are Jack Black, Stallone, Cleese and Macy doing w/ it'
Every now and again there’s a secret geek paradise project in the works… Something, not on anybody’s RADAR… flying in low, but unbelievably kooky and cool. Today – I get to unveil one such project for y’all.
I’ve known about this thing for about 4 or 5 years now, the first time I heard about it was in the midst of an amazing first conversation with Ed Solomon at the OMNI Hotel’s Bar Area. At the time, Ed was at an interesting place… he’d spent years doing rewrite and for hire gigs. He’d made a fortune off of his work on BILL & TED and MEN IN BLACK. But he was feeling like he was kinda losing track of who he was… He expressed that he felt he had just been doing “other people’s things” for a bit too long. He told me, that he had gotten back together with Chris Matheson (his co-writer/co-creator of the BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE universe) and they were revisiting a script they had begun back in those days… A script they called… AUTOMATONS.
I have to admit… When he mentioned that the script was for something he wanted to do Stop-Motion, that it of course had to do with Robots… and that it was ingeniously insane… well, I got excited. I love Stop-Motion in film. It’s like a hard-wired feeling of cool. Also – because it is such an unwieldy medium, I find that usually the people committed to working in it, have a more disciplined dedication to the work, the story and the craft. When you’re literally controlling every second of the frame… you have to know where you’ve been and where you’re going… and as a result, I feel that is what is so incredibly lovely about films like KING KONG or MIGHTY JOE YOUNG or JASON & THE ARGONAUTS…. And then in modern day works like CHICKEN RUN, JAMES & THE GIANT PEACH and the “mac daddy” of the Genre… THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS.
Last year, Ed Solomon came to Austin to screen LEVITY at the Alamo Drafthouse and afterwards, we (Father Geek & I) went over to his hotel and we had a great night where he began to show me some of the early work that Mark Caballero and Seamus Walsh were doing for him (Check out Screen-Novelties.Com to see some of their past work!). Specifically – the early Otto and Rob designs, and I fell in love. This wasn’t really a shock… I first went ‘gaga’ for Caballero and Walsh’s work on a short they made called OLD MAN AND THE GOBLINS. It was part of an ATLANTA FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL that I judged back in like 2000 or 2001, I can’t remember. And I met Mark outside, I believe the Arclight, when I was filming live interviews for the Pilot for my long languishing genius of a Television Show back years ago. Now, most of you probably know their work from them helping Ray Harryhausen to finish TORTOISE AND THE HARE… and some of their work on Cartoon Network – like that groovy Fred Flintstone stopmotion sequence they did. Wait… I realized… you people have no idea what AUTOMATONS is!
Well, let me rectify that situation pronto…
AUTOMATONS is… simply one of the coolest projects around right now. You see, back towards the end of World War 2, the good ol U.S. of A. was taxing their best noodles to fry up a notion that would put an end to the war pronto. Most of us are familiar with THE PHILIDELPHIA EXPERIMENT, that super serum that resulted in Steve Rogers remarkable physique and those ludicrous H-Bomb plans, which just led to giant fire-breathing monsters that apparently plague Japan to this day… But what none of us were aware of… what was never freed from the vaults of history, were the two indestructible infinitely powerful automatons created with the singular purpose of killing Adolph Hitler. Invincible, unstoppable robotic assassins… the only glitch they had was that they thought they were human and that we were robots… but hey, this was pre-WINDOWS – so while it may have a major programming glitch… they were built to last.
Unfortunately – as they were placed into their 2 man sub with the mission to go kill Hitler… word came back that the Chaplin copycat had off’d himself in a bunker somewhere, and suddenly it was decided to just let their sub sink to the bottom of the Atlantic, since they no longer had a sense of purpose. For about 60 years, these two robots were wandering around the ocean floor trying to find Hitler and arguing amongst themselves… various barnacles and crud attached themselves to Otto Maton and Rob Ott, but finally they came out onto dry land, much to the chagrin to the secretive U.S. govt.
Meanwhile… Unknown to the rest of the world, Hitler, Tojo and Mussolini come out of their Top Secret Cryo-chamber… and decide that they really were out of line with that whole rule the world thing, so Adolph decides to put on the greatest play version of YOU’RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN, but due to rights issues… well, they gotta do a knock off version.
Suffice to say… the world doesn’t entirely love either the Automatons or Hitler’s stage passions… A quick journey to the center of the earth and a trip to the moon later we have the conclusion to one of the greatest works of absurdist genius the world has yet to see. Quirky doesn’t quite cover it… Zany, maybe… but what it most definitely is… is one unique crazed hilarious script. Just a beautifully rambunctious laff riot. Something, I dearly hope makes it all the way to the screen.
So, speaking of, where’s it at?
Well, using all dat Movie Moolah that Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson have been putting in shoeboxes under the porn collections in their mutual attics, they’ve managed to shoot some tests with Caballero and Walsh! They’ve also recorded all the dialogue for the movie… literally all the dialogue is in the can! Who does it all?
Get a load of this:
Otto Maton: Jack Black
Rob Ott: John C Reilly
Those are the lead characters.
Then you have:
Billy Bob Thornton as “The Holy Earth Father” and Catherine O’Hara as “Celeste Eelbody and Fred Armisen as Tojo.
William H Macy and Holly Hunter have also recorded their parts (secret for now)
But the genius of the voice casting… the part that’ll make every last single one of us scream in mortal agony till we can see this on a silver screen…
HITLER is voiced by JOHN CLEESE!!!!!
Ok… after you cease hyperventlelating – read this:
MUSSOLINI has been voiced by SYLVESTER STALLONE!!!
Now – I’m not sure exactly who I have to kill to see that this movie gets made. But John Cleese voicing an artistically fragile Hitler harboring both war-mongering urges and a desire to be loved… it’ll kill people, they’ll laugh so hard. And Stallone doing Mussolini – it’s like the most perfectly hilarious thing ever.
Now – Quite a bit of this has been designed by Bo Welch, and it looks great! Ed showed me some of it the other day, and just looking at Hitler in the driveway of his pink split level suburban American home looking lost in his swastika covered pj’s… well, imagining Cleese’s voice coming out of that character just tickles me in all the right ways.
Or – the themepark that the moonpeople that believe they’re Earthlings have constructed out of old abandoned U.S. and Soviet Space Junk left there… it’s classic!
It’s projects like these that give one hope… Hope that everything is stamped in round cookie shapes and shipped in plastic sealed bags with brand names attached. That sometimes, there’s people out there that know exactly how far one has to go to get laughs that kill… I know it seems like I might’ve spoilt a great deal of the movie, but I promise you… all of this, this is nothing. This film is going to make you weep in laughter… with that talent, that script, Caballero & Walsh… all this needs is a distributor so we can see it sooner rather than later.
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June 21, 2004, 7:05 a.m. CST
Pies, Buxton, pies.
June 21, 2004, 7:09 a.m. CST
Certainly sounds interesting.
June 21, 2004, 7:15 a.m. CST
Yeah, I remember hearing it mentioned on the village studios website (http://www.villagestudios.com/news/news_nf.html) once. But Cleese as Hitler and Sly as Mussulini? Haha, I gotta see this!
June 21, 2004, 7:29 a.m. CST
by Evil Chicken
June 21, 2004, 7:45 a.m. CST
Perhaps Babel should develop a Harry to English translation engine. As such, i'm not sure what to make of this. I recognised key words, Jack, Black, Hitler, Cleese, Macy, Father, Geek, but they were bonded together in a resolute and impenetrable form.
June 21, 2004, 7:50 a.m. CST
In Cleese's pre-Python days he was a castmember of the BBC radio sketch series "I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again" where he frequently did any German accents a sketch would call for. His ultimate character was the prison camp commendant in the "Operation: Chocolate" sketch. "Now this es un kampf! Mein Kampf!" Can't wait.
June 21, 2004, 7:58 a.m. CST
This idea totally sucks, and you need a full time editor to fix your abysmal spelling and punctuation. You may want to consider whether your excitement over projects like this is genuine, or just fan boy after-glow from meeting the film-maker.
June 21, 2004, 8:07 a.m. CST
That's just my opinion. If he wanted to be loved in the middle of America, that wouldn't be the way to do it. I guess the world's gonna be so freaky-deeky that it won't really matter, but the notion of Hitler fetching the paper in a pink bathrobe is wacky enough in itself to work as a joke. Whatever. Sounds exciting though. Tell all your friends!!
June 21, 2004, 8:26 a.m. CST
...with Angelina Jolie as Kate Walker.
June 21, 2004, 8:43 a.m. CST
It was hi-larious. sk
June 21, 2004, 8:58 a.m. CST
Hmmmm???!!!??? One has to wonder, but then you hear William Macy in your head and . . . Voila!!! If Hitler, Tojo and Mussolini can come back, why not Roosevelt???? Hey, It's just speculation, get off my back already.
June 21, 2004, 9:06 a.m. CST
There's just so much hatred here at the AICN Talkback Water Cooler.
June 21, 2004, 10:36 a.m. CST
June 21, 2004, 10:39 a.m. CST
I still say that "Mr. Wrong" is absolutely hilarious.
June 21, 2004, 10:46 a.m. CST
by TheGinger Twit
June 21, 2004, 11:06 a.m. CST
by Trav McGee
"Vill you please stop talking about ze war!" "Well you started it." "Vee did not!" "Yes you did, you invaded Poland."
June 21, 2004, 11:18 a.m. CST
and I mean that literally. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'm gonna go to the hospital.
June 21, 2004, 11:29 a.m. CST
June 21, 2004, 12:02 p.m. CST
by George Mason
I wonder the same thing...about Clinton.
June 21, 2004, 12:29 p.m. CST
wonder if he took a goodwill pay cut
June 21, 2004, 1:25 p.m. CST
Sorry that bugs the hell outta me.
June 21, 2004, 2:03 p.m. CST
Everyone will either hail this as brilliance or damn it as ridiculous and in bad taste. All I know is i'm interested.
June 21, 2004, 2:05 p.m. CST
ANd looks like BB Thornton`s gonna get a actress/partner to fuck and give STDs...
June 21, 2004, 2:18 p.m. CST
Sheesh. Sounds brilliant... American film is so good these days.
June 21, 2004, 2:24 p.m. CST
has any one seen any pics of this yet? i went to the site and watched a showreel theres briefly a robot in that, is this what they look like! the animation is more wallace gromit than nightmare before christmas tho, which is slightly disspointing! sounds good tho
June 21, 2004, 2:48 p.m. CST
It's a good thing that it has Sylvester Staloldone attached to it, since that's a required ingredient of a not-to-be-made/instant-flop recipe.
June 21, 2004, 2:52 p.m. CST
by Pontsing Barset
... have become the regular posters to this site: Spelling police, misogynists, tiny attention spans, joyless tools, etc. You used to get some pretty decent discussions from time to time on AICN. Not anymore; it
June 21, 2004, 3:45 p.m. CST
by Gul Shah
"I don't like the sound of these here "boncentration bamps!"
June 21, 2004, 5:35 p.m. CST
What better way to snub someone than to brand them in stop-motion!? Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" was brilliant, and is now overlooked way too often. Even DISNEY made a Donald Duck cartoon making fun of Hitler. This movie sounds freakin' hilarious! I'm still waiting for another movie to be as funny and universally-offensive as SOUTH PARK -- sounds like this is it!
June 21, 2004, 5:42 p.m. CST
by Cletus Van Damme
June 21, 2004, 5:45 p.m. CST
DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY INFO ON THE PREMIERE TOMORROW BESIDES THAT IT'S IN LOS ANGELES. I WANNA GO. I WENT TO THE LAST ONE AND IT WAS SO FUN. SAW THE MOVIE WITH THE CELEBRITIES. JUST A RANDOM PERSON LIKE ME GOT INTO THE THEATER!
June 21, 2004, 6:33 p.m. CST
But it's hard to tell because of harry's rambling description. But then, can you imagine trying to describe south park? The devil in bed with saddam? or the "finding the clitoris" scene? might sound a bit all over the place, huh? i think this sounds great. At least it sounds different than everything else people are doing.
June 21, 2004, 6:57 p.m. CST
It sounds like a Dr. Strangelove meets Southpark Movie. Too bad Harry can't write very well because the movie actually sounds damn funny! Hitler doing Charlie Brown? Jack Black and John C. Reilly as robots? That's awesome!
June 21, 2004, 8:17 p.m. CST
by Triumph poops!
Since he was right to take the actions he has. But hopefully only one year from now -- far less than 60 -- you'll wake up to reality and snap out of your delusions and realize what a twit you've been for making such clueless statements...
June 21, 2004, 9:24 p.m. CST
June 21, 2004, 9:45 p.m. CST
i don't know about Cleese's current merit (Fierce Creatures? Ratrace?). He was clever enough to leave MP when it stopped being funny, also to end Faulty Towers after 12 episodes-but anyone notice an absent Nearly Headless Nick recently? It's all about the Benjamins with this chap.
June 21, 2004, 10:09 p.m. CST
Seems to me two established filmmakers are setting aside bread and butter work to do something interesting. This is definitely out there but an idea like this has to be judged by the final product. After all, how would you pitch Monty Python?
June 21, 2004, 10:21 p.m. CST
You can download a demo where Kate is trapped in a cabin by a grizzly bear and has to figure out how to escape. And "Mr. Hilter" was the name Cleese gave to the landlady in that MONTY PYTHON sketch, while sitting at the kitchen table studying maps of Poland.
June 21, 2004, 10:24 p.m. CST
by tommy c
i actually made it thru the whole article! this may be the most tangled, garbled, impenetrable prose piece of all time! please, hire an editor, or something. and what's with 'the round cookie shapes in plastic bags w/ brand names attached'? what the hell does that mean? p.s. can we have one day, or even one hour without any bush or kerry references? do people come here to read about bush and kerry? don't think so.
June 21, 2004, 10:25 p.m. CST
Maybe they know something we don't
June 21, 2004, 10:54 p.m. CST
This movie is going to rock! Sounds really irreverant. I'm sick of movies always playing it safe. its about time somebody tried something outside the system... John Clease will be funny, but it sounds like the main characters are the robots anyway. I'll bet they're going to look way cooler than recent computer animated big screen robots.
June 21, 2004, 11:16 p.m. CST
They should make an entire film solely about the dictators.
June 21, 2004, 11:30 p.m. CST
by Jimmy Jazz
This sounds hilarious. You babies wouldn't know quality if it walked up and bit you on your fat, cheeto-eating asses. Maybe you should go back to your Adam Sandler/Rob Schneider shitfests and beating off to pictures of the Olsen twins.
June 22, 2004, 1:06 a.m. CST
In the world of sir bill and sir ted, SHYAAA!!
June 22, 2004, 3:09 a.m. CST
the Rutledge Etheridge book is ideal for Stallone. He'd be perfect as aging fighter Ben Slate and his adventures fighting other would-be duelists in gladiator type arenas. Yet another great project for the super-talented Robert Rodriguez methinks.
June 22, 2004, 3:43 a.m. CST
Thanks, I've already finished Syberia II a few weeks ago. =]
June 22, 2004, 2:41 p.m. CST
Does this film have Dead, Raped, Deer? I mean....cmon...My Inner 9 Year Old is screaming for it! But, no seriously......is there someone who shouts "Crazy Fucking White People" at the end...because if not, then this movie will tank at the box office!!
June 22, 2004, 4:34 p.m. CST
by Big Bad Clone
June 22, 2004, 5:34 p.m. CST
I don't normally trust Ebert (anybody that hates BLUE VELVET but loves MULHOLLAND DR. needs serious help), but I'll take his word on this one. I saw the director of ND's credits on the IMDB: nothing but minor work on Mormon propaganda flicks.
June 25, 2004, 3:33 a.m. CST
I've been waiting for animation for guys like me for a long time. I love zany, funny ass shit. This idea is DOPE!!! It's shizzle fashizzle nizzle!!! How long a guy gotta wait for wacky animation to hit the big screen? And even then, I gotta stay up past midnight to see funny shit like this on cable. THANK HEZEUS for Automatons.
June 25, 2004, 3:40 a.m. CST
Stallone is ripe for a comeback. I'd love to see what he does with the Moose-man.
June 25, 2004, 3:59 a.m. CST
What a wacky ensemble. It'll be great just to hear their voices in one movie. I wonder if they'll animate the way some Disney flicks do, melding actor's expressions and gestures into the animation.
June 25, 2004, 4:23 a.m. CST
I bet from beginning to end, Atomatons will be different and more original than anything else out there. I don't know about you guys but the last thing I want to see is something predictable. And by the way, what's with all the off topic posts? This is impossible to get a real discussion going.
June 25, 2004, 5:12 a.m. CST
I think it's cute.
Sept. 29, 2009, 11:21 p.m. CST
by Dr. Magnifico
That's right, five years later and I still obsess over undeveloped projects I read about in my dorm room. Gordon has a beer and cheats on his wife.
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