SPIELBERG FLIPS BIRD … AN AMAZING STORY

Published February 16, 2008

THE INCREDIBLES
The Incredibles – not only one of the best damn animated movies ever made, I’d dare say it’s one of the most well-crafted, energetic, fun and funny movies of any genre, period. One that gets even better with repeat viewings. Writer/director Brad Bird was invited into the Pixar fold by his old CalArts buddy (and Pixar CEO) John Lasseter. He would go on, of course, to make the equally good Ratatouille.
Ratatouille
Prior to joining Pixar, Brad Bird wrote and directed The Iron Giant for Warner Bros. While critically acclaimed, it underperformed at the box office; likely due to limited marketing, and the decline of traditional, hand-drawn, 2-D animation. Too bad too, because it was a very entertaining movie. It was enough, however, to attract Lasseter’s eye and invite his old friend into the Pixar fold.

The first time I saw any of Bird’s work was back in 1987, on Steven Spielberg’s anthology show, Amazing Stories (never quite as good as The Twilight Zone it so wanted to be). The episode, Family Dog, written and directed by Bird, was one of the funniest animated shorts I had ever seen. It remains so. Brad Bird announced his presence with authority with this episode (not to mention the fact he was a huge fan of Chuck Jones). Steven Spielberg obviously felt the same – I credit him with discovering the man who would go on to make The Incredibles. Tim Burton also helped with the animation and Danny Elfman did the music. No wonder this was such a gem.  (UPDATE: 10/27/12 – Tim Burton also seems to have borrowed from this short he worked on in 1985, for the 2012 stop-motion remake of his own Frankenweenie.  Is it just me, or does Sparky look an awful lot like this Family Dog?)

Briefly, in summer ’93, six years after that one episode, CBS gave Family Dog its own series. But without Brad Bird’s involvment, the show could not compare to its source material and was pulled after only two episodes.

If you’ve never seen it, or you remember it well … bon appétit.

WORDSLINGER UPDATE 3/13/2017 – Video will no longer embed (of course). Check it out HERE.