— by CAM SMITH —
Leonardo DiCaprio is a great actor. I mean, “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?,” “The Departed” and “Titanic”? Fuggedaboutit! The dude’s got mad acting “skillz” and has become, aside from being Martin Scorsese’s chosen cinematic golden boy, one of the most intriguing, reliable and refreshingly gutsy actors of his generation. He’s guaranteed to win a well-deserved Oscar one of these days.
But, all respect and pleasantries out of the way, his voice isn’t exactly one which seems particularly well-suited to animated voiceover work. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but it lacks the essential larger-than-life character. A necessary oomph. A certain — how you say — Je ne sais quoi.
Obviously, however, Dreamworks Animation cares little what mere insignificant, squashable mortals like me think and, according to the Coming Soon, they have gone right ahead and cast him in their Nov. 2, 2012, family tent-pole “The Guardians” (title subject to change). The role? Why, obviously Jack Frost, silly!
The film — based on William Joyce’s yet-to-reach-bookstores kids’ series “The Guardians of Childhood” — is like a “League of Extraordinary Gentleman” for the ankle-biter crowd, with a super-powered team consisting of Jack Frost, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Sandman and the Tooth Fairy battling the sinister forces of the evil spirit Pitch. (Were there no wicked children’s icons available? Wouldn’t Bloody Mary or Wee Willie Winkie return calls? Villainous tree sap seems like something of a letdown considering the all-star good-guy crew assembled.)
With no other actors cast, the flick will likely remain a pretty large question mark for the next year or so, or at least until another gifted thespian with an unremarkable set of vocal chords signs on.
Dreamworks has long specialized in manufacturing a continuous succession of pretty, pleasant and entirely unmemorable star-studded CG features to great financial gain — with their last few being titles being “Monsters Vs. Aliens,” “Kung Fu Panda” and the “Madagascar” films. I don’t expect this new effort to break the pattern.
“The Guardians” is being produced by Christina Steinberg (of “Bee Movie”, “National Treasure”) and Nancy Bernstein, with directorial duties being handled by first-timer Peter Ramsey.
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