“Me and My Shadow” tells the story of Shadow Stan (voiced by Playlist favorite Bill Hader), a shadow who wants something more out of life, but is instead frustratingly tethered to the schlubby and boring Stanley Grubb (Josh Gad). Fed up with his dull existence, Stan goes against the cardinal rule of shadowing and takes control of his human. Hilarity, undoubtedly, ensues. And while the plot doesn’t sound all that revolutionary (the shadow-controlling-the-human dynamic could quickly go the way of “Ratatouille,” and early mentions of the “Shadow World” suggest an unnecessarily complicated mythology), the way the film is being brought to the screen does sound pretty cool.
The movie is being directed by Alessandro Carloni, who worked alongside certifiable geniuses Chris Sanders and Dean DuBlois as head of story on “How to Train Your Dragon,” and he is employing a unique approach – apparently the shadow character will be traditionally animated. Which is, as the kids would say, pretty fucking cool. According to DreamWorks Animation Chief Creative Officer Bill Damaschke, on the movie’s Facebook page, "The shadows will be animated hand drawn, and the other characters will be CG animated. There is a reason to do [hand drawn animation] that felt creatively interesting." Sounds good to us!
There have been a number of recent projects that have blended traditional and computer animation to startling effect, things like the brilliantly bizarre 2010 Pixar short “Day & Night,” written and directed by Teddy Newton, which had computer animated scenarios “projected” inside 2D characters, and this year’s Disney short “Paperman,” which could end up being the savior of Disney’s traditional hand-drawn animation department. (Funny to think that a couple of decades ago, computer generated images in traditionally animated features was thought of as revolutionary! Hello ballroom in “Beauty and the Beast”!) It’s somewhat heartening to know that the next generation of animators are still indebted to their traditionally animated forefathers and willing to bring that artform to the next level.
It’s the kind of thing that makes a potentially bland-sounding project like “Me and My Shadow” into something way more intriguing and unique. The poster suggests a kind of retro art style, which we also enjoy, more Hanna-Barbara than Pixar, and while the movie’s title is obviously a nod to the classic tune of the same name (that’s been sung by everybody from Al Jolson to Robbie Williams, oh and of course James Caan in “Funny Lady”), is it too early to lobby for the filmmakers to include “My Shadow,” from the super-amazing Swedish pop duo Sound of Arrows (from last year’s masterpiece “Voyage”)? Just think about it, okay?
“Me and My Shadow” opens on March 14, 2014. Shadows welcome.