||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (September 2009)|
|Directed by||Steven Lisberger|
|Produced by||Donald Kushner
Peggy Flook (associate producer)
|Written by||Steven Lisberger
|Story by||Steven Lisberger
|Music by||Graham Gouldman|
|Editing by||Matt Cope|
Warner Home Video
Family Home Entertainment
|Release dates||February 1, 1980|
|Running time||75 minutes|
Animalympics is a 1980 animated film produced by Lisberger Studios and released by Warner Bros.. It is one of the first animated feature films presented with Dolby sound. Originally commissioned by the NBC network as two separate specials, it spoofs the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, and features the voices of Billy Crystal, Gilda Radner, Harry Shearer and Michael Fremer.
The film is a series of vignettes presented as the broadcast of the first animal Olympic Games through the fictional ZOO television network. The Games combine summer and winter Olympic events.
Unlike the real Olympics, continents are represented rather than countries. The continents featured are North America, South America, Eurasia, Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia. Eurasia represented Eastern Europe, whereas Europe represented Western and Central Europe. South America is only briefly represented in soccer. Australia is represented briefly by a bobsled team.
The only mention of areas other than continents are the New York Rats soccer team, Dean Wilson being from California, a Central American marathon runner named Pepe Repanosa, and an Acapulco cliff diver named "Primo Cabeza" (roughly Spanish for "head first"), marathon runner Terry Hornsby being from Boulder, Colorado, René Fromage being from France, and Kurt Wüfner appearing at the downhill event right before a Scandinavian is given a gold medal.
Although many of the segments stand alone, there are some recurring events and important characters. The largest such story is the coverage of the marathon, where competitors René Fromage (a French goat) and Kit Mambo (an African lioness) are the favorites to win. Both determined to win — Fromage having devoted his entire life to the marathon, Mambo determined to make a name for herself — they find themselves surprised when their minds wander to thoughts of mutual admiration and then to love, culminating in the pair holding hands for the rest of the race and crossing the finish line together. Another important story is that of Kurt Wuffner, German dachshund skier, and his disappearance to Dogra-la during a mountain climbing expedition shortly after the slalom event.
A minor story features an alligator named Bolt Jenkins. He was "born as a handbag" and told he would never walk again. A song during his story reveals that he lives in the slums. After seeing a frog named Boris Amphibiensky break the world record for the high jump, Jenkins has an epiphany, and becomes determined to break the record, leading into a training montage. Jenkins goes on to set world records in the high jump, the pole vault, and later the 100 meter dash. The hundred meter dash is done in the style of a drag race (with the racers transforming into dragster engines) narrated by "former speedster Jackie Fuelit". Jenkins sacrifices his gold medal to African racer Kit Ngogo, whom Jenkins considers to be his superior. Jenkins is also the spokesman for "Toasted Gecko Flakes" cereal.
Some events are only referenced rather than being covered. In the song "We've Made It to the Top", various events are shown that are otherwise not covered:
Also referenced but not covered:
- Boxing- only a highlight reel is provided after the match, despite being previewed as "coming up after the basketball game"
- Speed Skating- previewed, but not actually shown
- Water Polo- mentioned as happening earlier in the week
Originally commissioned by NBC in 1978, it was produced as two separate shows intended to air along with the network's 1980 summer Olympics coverage. However, only the half-hour winter show made it to the small screen, as the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan caused President Jimmy Carter to boycott the Moscow Summer Olympics. As America stayed away, NBC canceled its Olympic coverage, and Lisberger's hour-long companion special along with it. However, from its conception, producer Donald Kushner and director Steven Lisberger intended the project as a feature-length theatrical release. The resulting version, recorded and mixed in Dolby surround sound via magnetically striped 35mm film, had its debut at the 1980 Miami Film Festival, where it was well received. It was released in various countries overseas during the summer season that same year.
Though it never found a theatrical distributor in the U.S., Animalympics was soon acquired by Warner Bros. for home video and pay-TV release. The film aired in summer 1984 on HBO and Showtime nationwide, as well as intermittently during the early to mid-1990s on The Disney Channel, and also on Philadelphia's PRISM. It was also shown on an NBC affiliate station on July 4, 1982.
Among those who worked on Animalympics were art director/animator Roger Allers, animation director Bill Kroyer, and animator Brad Bird. Allers, who animated Kit Mambo, the lion star of Animalympics, appropriately went on to direct The Lion King. Kroyer later wrote and directed the animated feature FernGully: The Last Rainforest. Brad Bird went on to work as story editor of The Simpsons, and later achieved even greater success writing and directing The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille.
Director Lisberger went on to conceive, co-write and direct the science fiction classic Tron, which some of the Animalympics crew were involved in. Its soundtrack supervisor was Michael Fremer, who was involved in Animalympics as a co-writer, voice artist, dialogue/music track editor and sound mix supervisor. Fremer went on to supervise the Academy Award nominated soundtrack to Tron 
A&M Records in the USA, and Mercury Records in Europe released an Animalympics soundtrack album, which has long been out of print. The music on this soundtrack was written and produced entirely by Graham Gouldman, who performed the tracks himself along with other members of 10cc (Gouldman was the bassist for the band at the time).
Pieces of classical music play in the Animalympics Movie. The Hut on Fowl's Legs (Baba-Yagá) from Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky plays during Tatyana Tushenko's floor exercises. March to the Scaffold from Symphony Fantastique by Hector Berlioz plays during the couple's figure skating. The 3rd movement from Symphony No. 4 by Johannes Brahms plays during Dorie Turnell's skating performance.
The most commonly shown version nowadays has a few omissions to make the film more family-friendly (especially due to its common airing on the Disney Channel for several years).
The following has been edited out:
- When Bruce Kwakimoto is being described, a shot of a crowd of penguins identical to him is shown. Someone then comments, "anybody see a Red pun?". Although this may be a reference to China, it is more likely that Kwakimoto is Japanese. The shot was left in, but the quote was edited out.
- Near the end of the marathon, Mamo Yuhuhu (Kit Mambo's coach) is so nervous that he prepares to hang himself if Kit does not win. He is also at one point shown taking an overdose of sedatives.
The German distributor Alive released a Region 2 DVD on October 5, 2007, containing the original English version and a German dub.
- "List of territorial distributors for Animalympics". Lisberger Studios. 1980. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
- Dargis, Manohla (2005-02-07). "We're Sorry". The New York Times.
- Dargis, Manohla (2005-02-07). "We're Sorry". The New York Times.
- Zeek: Simulacra, Simulation and Science Fiction
- "Search results for Animalympics news items (1984)". Google News Archive Search. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
- Billboard.com - Biography - Graham Gouldman
- Roger Allers - Movies, Movie Clips and Trailers
- Interview - Brad Bird for "The Incredibles"
- Animalympics at Keyframe - the Animation Resource
- Graham Gouldman- Animalympics- Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack LP @Discogs.com
- "Product information for Die Dschungel-Olympiade" (in German). Amazon.de. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
- Animalympics at the Internet Movie Database
- Animalympics at AllMovie
- Press Kit
- Animalympics at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on April 4, 2012.