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Western Animation / Animalympics

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"In all creatures great and small, there resides a spirit of athletic competition..."

Animalympics is an animated film produced by Steven Lisberger (who would later create TRON for Disney). The film was originally conceived as a pair of specials for NBC to air during the 1980 Olympic Games (one for the Summer Games and one for the Winter Games), but the American boycott of the Summer Games that year put the kibosh on those plans.note  Lisberger's studio instead released Animalympics in theaters as a single feature film.

The film consists of a series of vignettes representing news coverage of the "Animalympics", which as you can imagine are the Olympics for anthropomorphic animals. The main event is the marathon, in which the two favorites (the obsessively driven goat René Fromage, and You Go, Girl! lioness Kit Mambo) take an early lead... and also take to each other. Other highlights include the rags-to-riches tale of track-and-field alligator Bolt Jenkins, a fencing match that turns into a pastiche of Errol Flynn movies, and a hockey game that almost literally turns into all-out war.

The voice cast consists of Gilda Radner, Billy Crystal, Harry Shearer, and a pre-The Tracking Angle Michael Fremer (who was also the film's writer/co-director) in his only noteworthy acting role ever, who are the only four voice actors in the film, each portraying a wide array of characters.


  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Where Bolt Jenkins grew up. Hey, you can go jogging down there!
  • Acrofatic: Ilsa Blintz the hippo during the Vault section, as well as the elephant acrobat Ludmilla Steppanyatova on the uneven parallel bars. Count Maurice Boardeaux is quite the agile fencer.
    • Subverted: Ilsa Blintz only gets a score of 4.5 (Keen Hacksaw wonders if that was actually the reading on the Richter Scale), Ludmilla's routine ends in disaster (she destroys one of the uneven bars), and Keen Hacksaw does a lap around the track in 46 seconds, and says "Not bad for fatso."
  • An Aesop: A European and African runner fall in love, a not-so-subtle promotion of racial harmony.
  • All Asians Know Martial Arts: Played straight by Bruce Kwakimoto, and that's actually floor exercises. Kind of averted by Ono Nono because he's a tsunami-causing orca. (Then again, we don't know for sure if Ono Nono doesn't happen to know martial arts, too.)
  • Animal Stereotypes: Played straight in some places, averted in others.
  • Artistic License – Sports: Several events are somehow fused. For example, Ilsa Blintz's poor vaulting score somehow matters to whether or not Tatyana Tushenko wins gold in the floor exercise, and a pairs figure-skating team shares the podium with a women's solo figure skater.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Boris Amphibiensky was Bolt Jenkins' role-model, and the very reason why he got into sports, high jump specifically, was a TV transmission of Amphibiensky's high jump world record. In the film, not only does Jenkins get to compete against Amphibiensky, but he actually beats his idol and sets a new world record.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: When asked to comment on René and Kit falling in love mid-race, Bruce Kwakimoto makes a series of vaguely Asian-sounding martial arts grunts.
    Hummell: Thank you, Bruce. Too bad we don't know what that means.
  • Assumed Win: For downhill skiing, Marcel Pourseau loses to Kurt Wuffner, who had disappeared some days earlier, but showed up just in time; for fencing, Count Maurice Boardeaux? Nope, the Contessa, who appears out of nowhere, and the Marathon, René Fromage? Kit Mambo? They tie for gold.
  • Award-Bait Song: "We've Made It to the Top" by Graham Gouldman.
  • Blatant Lies: According to Keen Hacksaw, Bruce Kwakimoto is the kind of guy who stands out in a crowd. The photo they show is a subway full of identical puffins wearing the same suit. "Has anyone seen a red pen?"
  • Big Damn Heroes: Right after Count Boardeux wins a gold medal in fencing through unscrupulous tactics, the Contessa literally swoops in and shows him what-for.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: The North American soccer team are the New York Rats.
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama: René is European, Kit is African. The symbology isn't subtle.
  • Bowdlerise: TV will occasionally play a version of the movie with a lot of "inappropriate" material removed.
  • Boxing Kangaroo: Joey Gongolong, one of the participants in the boxing match. Of course. Billy Crystal voices him mimicking Muhammad Ali.
  • Busman's Holiday: According to her, Tatyana Tushenko is always training, even during family vacations — viewers are then treated to a shot of the beach, while Tatyana is using her parents' arms as parallel bars.
  • Canada, Eh?: The North American ice hockey team is apparently Canadian; the coach and a few of the players have French-Canadian accents, and "O Canada" plays as the climactic game-winning goal (by a player named Guy) is made.
  • Carnivore Confusion:
    • The Animalympics were actually introduced as an alternative to preying upon one another.
    • Then again, Bolt Jenkins is sponsored by Toasted Gecko Flakes. He's even a reptile himself.
  • Catchphrase: "Fer sure", courtesy of Dean Wilson.
  • Cavalier Competitor: Bolt Jenkins takes this to a whole new level after the 100-meter dash. He came in first, but his competitor Kip Ngogo had trouble at the start and still managed to almost catch up with him, so technically, Bolt says, Kip was faster and deserves the gold medal more than him. Bolt himself passes the medal on to Kip. (Then again, Bolt has already won two gold medals earlier.)
  • Celebrity Cameo: At one point the Pink Panther can be seen in a picture showing the Calamari Brothers' backstory.
  • Character Focus: Born out of necessity, due to the four-person voice cast. For all intents and purposes, René and Kit represent the marathon, Bolt Jenkins is track and field, Kurt Wuffner is skiing, and Dean Wilson is the aquatic events. Less broad events get their own one-off characters who are never heard of beyond said events.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Dean's surfing skills comes in handy during the race.
  • Chest of Medals: A dolphinnote , who helps narrate the swimming and diving section, has an impressive set of gold medals. He takes them off and sets them down with an audible clank.
  • Chop Sockey: Bruce Kwakimoto's floor exercises are that.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The boxing match, which goes thus: Joey Gongolong hops around Janos Brushteckel a few times, then taunts him by kissing his nose. Brushteckel then grabs Gongolong by the neck and punches him in the face, sending him spinning into the ropes. Gongolong then spins back out and catapults himself back at Brushteckel, hitting him in the gut. Then Gongolong lands a punch to the nose, then to the top of the head. Two more jabs to the nose and an uppercut later, the match is over. Brushteckel was knocked out, Gongolong only took one hit. (It's a reference to Ali-Liston I, which at the time was the fastest heavyweight bout, with Ali knocking Liston down three times before the match ended in 2 minutes in the first round.)
    Turkell: You let down your coach! You let down your country! You let down your mother! You're a bum steer! But most importantly, you let down yourself! (camera pulls back to reveal that Turkell is standing on Brushteckel's head) And now you can let me down!
  • Cyborg: Marcel Pourseau was pieced together as one after a severe accident and then tuned up to be the ultimate ski champion. His song is "Bionic Boar" (not to mention the only fully electronic piece of music in the soundtrack), and when he crashes, you can see loose screws fly off of him.
  • Dartboard of Hate: We see in Janos's locker room a picture of Joey Gongolong, with a mustache and goatee drawn on it, covered in little holes.
  • David vs. Goliath: The flying squirrel Duke Chardas against Count Boardeaux, a Fat Bastard of a boar. Unfortunately, Boardeaux prevents Chardas from using his agility by stepping on the squirrel's tail and wins.
  • Determinator: Everybody, given that this is about winning Olympic events, but René really puts out the image. And let's not forget Bolt Jenkins who worked his way up all the way from a handbag to an Olympic athlete.
    • A bit less for Dean Wilson, maybe, because what earns him gold is more fun than work for him, what with being a Playful Otter.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Two big ones:
    • The most obvious example is Dean Wilson's "Underwater Fantasy", a/k/a "the movie's taking a break for a few minutes, so go ahead and grab a snack or use the can if you need to."
    • René Fromage's "Love's Not For Me" is the other big one.
    • "With You I Can Run Forever" is a lesser one, but still.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Kit Mambo's plan to beat Rene Fromage is to take the lead early and break his concentration. Backfires slightly in that they fall in love over the course of the race, crossing the finish line hand-in-hand. Therefore both got distracted by the sexy.
  • Dreary Half-Lidded Eyes: The owl referee of the Volleyball event is intensely bored during the opening minutes of the match, sporting a pair of these and idly fiddling with his whistle.
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Barbara Warblers, one of the commentators (based on Barbara Walters), has rhotacism.
  • Epic Fail: Sometimes when an athlete loses an event, they don't just lose, they lose.
  • Fat Bastard: Count Maurice Boardeaux is overweight and not very sportsmanlike when it comes to maintaining his title as fencing champion. Fortunately, he ends up getting his comeuppance when he is beaten by the Contessa.
    • Subverted with Marcel Pourseau. If anything he comes off as a Determinator due to going for far as to being rebuilt as a cyborg after being crippled in order to keep skiing
  • Fat Flex: In his introduction, Count Bourdeux seemingly has a Heroic Build before his chest falls and reveals to have quite the gut.
  • Feather Fingers: In an interesting example, the Contessa can still fly even though she has upper limbs that are 95% indistinguishable from human arms.
  • Flynning: The fencing event is basically an Errol Flynn movie pastiche.
  • Funny Octopus:
    • The literal Chick Magnet squid during the "Go For It" segment that's got one tentacle around each of the four chickens sitting with him.
    • Also, to an extent, the aptly-named Calamari Brothers who have a natural advantage at watersports. They shine at water polo, and one of them would have a serious chance at freestyle swimming, were it not for Ono Nono's tsunami and Dean Wilson's surfing skills. The real fun (for the viewers as well as for them) begins when they compete at bobsledding.
  • Fur Is Clothing: In Dorrie Turnell's case, feathers. We know that because she spins her final pirouette so fast that she loses most of them and ends up standing there in her undies.
  • Furry Confusion: A few jokes about this, including a picture of an elephant gymnast wearing a Russian lynx coat and hat.
  • Gratuitous Disco Sequence: "Go For It", set in the Noah's Ark disco.
  • Gretzky Has the Ball: Sometimes they get it, sometimes they exaggerate it, and sometimes there's moments like the "Platform Diving" graphic introducing the springboard diving segment.
  • Hartman Hips: Kit Mambo and especially Brenda Springer have rather pronounced hips.
    • Lampshaded by Kit's "strategy" (take an early lead and break René's concentration).
  • Heroes Gone Fishing: It's briefly mentioned that on top of the sporting arenas, Animalympics Island holds a variety of places for athletes to relax and have fun, such as a golf course and Noah's Ark Disco, which leads to the "Go For It" number.
    • Dean Wilson's interview doesn't cover his training, but what he does in his down time.
  • High-Class Glass: Count Bourdeux has a monocle, which gets broken by the Contessa in their duel.
    Contessa: Well, darling, shall we call it a tooth for a tooth or an eye for an eye?
  • High-Dive Hijinks: The high dive event features a diving board 100 meters in the air. As Mark Spritz says, it not only requires greats concentration, but also the leg strength just to reach the board.
  • Hockey Fight: Ice hockey is literally depicted as war, complete with explosions. It also depicts field hockey; it's not as rough, but a referee does get Squashed Flat when he gets body-slammed between two players.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Like you wouldn't believe, verbally and visually. The closed captioning even goes out of its way to explain some of them.
  • "I Want" Song: René's "Love's Not For Me" is sort of an inverse "I Want" Song from the lyrics alone, but the visuals during the number make it more clearly one of this type.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Ilsa Blintz when she gets a 4.5 on the vault. Also Count Maurice Boardeaux, when The Contessa beats him in fencing.
  • Interspecies Romance: A number of them: Kit Mambo and René Fromage, most obviously but also a husband-and-wife figure-skating team who happen to be a lizard and a chicken, plus several hookups at the disco.note 
  • Is This Thing Still On?: A silent example - when Bolt Jenkins watches his former hero utterly bungle the high jump, he looks at the camera with an amused smirk before realizing he's supposed to be looking determined.
    • Another silent example: When Tatyana Tushenko scores her perfect 10, the camera cuts to her adorable jumping up and down and grinning ecstatically before she catches herself and hastily reverts into The Stoic mode.
  • Kick the Dog: One of the commentators isn't afraid of letting the loser of the boxing match know that he's let down his coach, family, country, and himself. Janos Brushteckel actually starts crying.
    Rugs: And now, you can let me down. (cut to wide shot; Rugs is standing on the bull's head)
  • Landmark of Lore: Animalympic Island is apparently built on top of Atlantis.
  • Lazy Dragon: The beginning has the Animal Olympics torch lit by the fire of a sleeping dragon.
  • Lonely at the Top: René Fromage's song establishes that in pursuit of victory, he's given up and ignored a lot — love, good food, wealth — and if he wins the big race, he'll have nothing left. Alone again / But where are you?
  • Male Gaze: Quite a few of the scenes where Kit Mambo is seen running shows off her backside.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Anyone familiar with surf rock will instantly understand why the hero of the swimming events is named Dean Wilson.
    • Not to mention much of the cast has names indicative of their species. See Hurricane of Puns above.
  • The Merch: In-Universe, as Kit's manager was really counting on her victory.
    • Also in-universe: at the time the movie takes place, Dorrie Turnell already has what's apparently a very popular doll modeled after her, and the same doll is featured in a commercial for 'Preen-ette' feather shampoo.
  • Multinational Team: Country names are not used, teams just represent the continents: North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Eurasia (which is supposed to be the Soviet Union).
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Asian freestyle swimmer, Ono Nono, a ginormous orca.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Several of the commentators reference famous celebrities.
    • The main anchorman Henry Hummell is a tortoise with the accent (and eyeglasses) of Henry Kissinger.
    • Bolt Jenkins is based on John Travolta. "Go For It" makes it a bit more obvious.
    • Barbara Warblers is an obvious parody of Barbara Walters.note 
    • Rugs Turkell is Howard Cosell as a turkey.
    • Jackie Fuelit is a parody of Jackie Stewart.
    • Mark Spritz is Mark Spitz as a dolphin.
    • Joey Gongolong is a parody of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, even using Ali's line to describe Sonny Liston on Brushteckel, "He's too ugly to be champ!" The name is a reference to Evonne Goolagong, who was Australian (Joey is a kangaroo.)
    • Melé is a parody of soccer legend Pelé.
    • Guy La Fluke is a parody of hockey legend Guy La Fleur.
    • The walrus mayor of Animalympic Island at the beginning is a walrus version of Richard Nixon, complete with a V-Sign.
  • Noodle Incident: It's never explained if Count Boardeaux actually had a fencing career up to that point, and exactly why the Contessa wanted to stop him, or if she had a history with Boardeaux prior to it. The only hint for the audience that Boardeaux is a fraud is when The Contessa tells Boardeaux that he "never fenced before," which given the context may have just been empty trash-talk.
  • Not-So-Innocent Whistle: The head of the Rats soccer team after swapping medals with the head of the Dogs.
  • Ocular Gushers: Dorrie Turnell after she won gold. Ilsa Blintz after she failed. And Count Boardeaux after the Contessa wiped the floor with him.
  • Oh, Crap!: A few examples, particularly from athletes who realize that they're going to screw up. The first instance however is the horse Ilsa Blintz is going to vault over. When it sees the mass of hippo coming at him, it's expression goes This Is Going to Suck.
  • Parody Commercial: Toasted Gecko Flakes are a parody of Wheaties.
  • Playboy Parody: Dorrie Turnell can be see on multiple magazine covers, including "Playbird" while dressed as a Playboy Bunny.
  • Playful Otter: Dean Wilson. Springboard diving becomes a Disney Acid Sequence when he does it, and instead of drowning in the Ono Nono-caused tsunami, he switches from swimming to surfing on his own tail. Essentially, Dean won gold by having fun.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Graham Gouldman from the group 10cc, which had a steady string of hits on the UK pop charts over the course of the '70s (including "I'm Not In Love" and "The Things We Do For Love", which were also Top 10 hits in the US).
  • Pretty in Mink: One of the Russian gymnasts is an elephant, and there is a shot of her wearing a russian lynx coat and hat. The other featured Russian gymnast is a mink, or rather, a sable, a closely related species.
  • Pseudolympics: The entire show is based on this trope.
  • Punny Name: Oh so many. Barbara Warblers, Art Antica, Mark Spritz, Ono Nono etc.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Of a sort. The visuals to the song "Love's Not For Me" near the end suggest that René Fromage will get his gold—and have absolutely nothing else in his life. That's not his actual fate.
  • Racial Face Blindness: Parodied during Bruce Kwakimoto's description with a photograph that allegedly shows him in a subway crowd at his Asian home. The crowd consists of absolutely identical puffins.
  • Random Events Plot: There's no real plot and the whole film just follows Olympic event after Olympic event, mainly because it started out as a series of standalone shorts about individual events that were compiled into a feature length film. The only bits that have an actual story arc attached to them are the Skiing section of the Winter Animalympics (centering around Kurt Wuffner going missing in the mountains), and the Marathon section of the Summer Animalympics (centering around the rivalry between René Fromage and Kit Mambo which turns into love).
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Rugs Turkell delivers this to Janos Brushteckel after he gets quickly defeated by Joey Gongolong to the point where he's in tears.
    Turkell: Janos, you lost miserably. You let down your coach! You let down your country! You let down your mother! You're a bum steer! But most importantly, you let down yourself! And now you can let me down!
  • Removable Shell: Henry Hummell is shown to have one while getting a massage.
  • Sewer Gator: Bolt Jenkins, the alligator track star, claims to have grown up and lived in the sewers prior to the games.
  • The Shangri-La: While mountain climbing, Kurt Wuffner ends up in "Dogra-La", but has to leave to win the ski race. He then goes in search of it again, vowing not to rest until he finds it.
  • Shout-Out: Loads, many requiring some knowledge of 1979/1980:
    • Barbara Warblers' voice actress was Gilda Radner, who had often played Barbara Walters (or "Baba Wawa") in the same manner on Saturday Night Live.
    • Billy Crystal's Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell imitations were also part of his act long before this film.
    • "Rugs Turkell" is a punny version of Studs Terkel.
    • Also, the basketball-playing cats are a homage to the Harlem Globetrotters.
    • Bolt Jenkins was "born as a handbag"note 
    • Harry Shearer's voice for Keen Hacksaw later resurfaced as Springfield's own Kent Brockman.
    • One athlete is shown to be an actor on the side, and a clip is shown from his role in an Ingmar Bergman film, including a Chess with Death scene right out of The Seventh Seal.
    • Possibly one to Nadia Comăneci, the Eurasian athlete who gets a perfect 10. Complete with coach expecting an abysmal score, as Nadia's perfect 10 was incorrectly displayed due to a scoreboard that couldn't show a perfect 10 (it showed a 1.00).
    • Marcel Pourseau's backstory spoofs the title sequence of The Six Million Dollar Man.
    • Henry Hummell's joke about the "old showbiz expression, 'really big shoe'" references The Ed Sullivan Show and Ed's unique pronunciation of "show".
    • As he jokes about Ilsa Blintz's score being the reading on the Richter Scale, Keen Hacksaw mimes holding a cigar ala Groucho Marx.
    • One of the headlines featuring Tatyana Tushenko is from Uniformity: "LB Studios Cable Sable: Won't Table Fable Pix!" It's a nod to Variety's famously punny headline "Sticks Nix Hick Pix".
    • The leader of the New York Rats is named "Whiz" Rizzo.
    • Martial artist Bruce Kwakimoto’s first name is a reference to Bruce Lee.
  • Silly Love Songs: René and Kit's "With You I Can Run Forever," Kurt Wuffner's "Away From It All."
  • Species Surname: Kind of. Maurice Boardeaux (boar), Rugs Turkell (turkey), the Calamari Brothers...
  • Spell My Name With An S: Despite the name "Tatyana Tushenko" being explicitly written out on magazine covers in her segment, presumably that way for the "tush" pun, her name is often spelled as "Tatiana Tuschenko" by fans. This is the typical German spelling, and Animalympics got a whole lot more exposure in Germany than in North America, so it's safe to assume that many English-writing Animalympics fans on the Web are in fact Germans.
  • Squashed Flat: Happens several times, including a lizard in the couples skating competition whose partner, a hen, falls on top of him, and a field hockey referee who is body checked by two players at once. Willard Sweat of the weightlifting contest ends up being crushed by the barbells.
  • Stealth Pun: Right at the beginning, you see a polar bear running with the torch to a coyote. The Announcer goes on about the "Thrill of Victory, and the Agony of Defeat." The polar bear's feet are red hot at this point, and he's blowing on them after passing the torch.
  • Suicide as Comedy: At least, threatened suicide. When Tatyana Tushenko is about to receive her score, her coach has a noose around his neck and has chattering teeth (she receives a perfect 10). This may be an allusion to Nadia Comăneci, who also received a perfect 10 from the judges in the 1976 Olympics—but, because the scoreboard could only display 9.99, her score was accidentally displayed as an abysmal 1.00.
  • Surfer Dude: Dean Wilson talks like one, man!
  • Tears of Joy: When Dorrie Turnell wins gold.
  • Theme Naming: Virtually all of the characters have names that either reference their species or their nationality.
  • Training Montage: Bolt Jenkins' "Born to Lose," though his character more directly parodies Tony from Saturday Night Fever.
  • Twist Ending: At the end of the marathon, Kit Mambo and René Fromage tie for first and simply keep on running hand-in-hand.
  • Unnecessary Roughness: Certainly the ice hockey game that's more like a war scene. There's probably some elsewhere, too.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: The song "Love's Not For Me" (AKA René's Song) is all about this, especially the words at the end:
    So when the race is won
    And there's nothing left to do
    Alone again,
    But where are you?
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: Figure skater Dorrie Turnell combines this with feathers as clothes. She loses them in a rapid pirouette and ends up in underwear. The spotlight goes off and on again, and she wears a bathrobe.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Happened to Marcel Pourseau in his backstory. When he crashes and becomes a Human Snowball in his ski run, you can see nuts and bolts fall from his body as he tumbles.
  • What's a Henway?: Lampshaded. "This reminds me of the old joke, 'how much does a Grecian urn?' but you've probably heard it."
  • Wheel of Feet: During the 100 Meter Dash, the contestants first show this, then take on the characteristics of drag-racing cars—complete with arms turning into exhaust pipes, bodies into engines, and releasing parachutes to stop them. They even do burn-outs before the race.
  • You Dirty Rat!: The New York Rats, who use dirty tactics during the soccer games. Their captain, Whiz Rizzo even switches medals with the real winning team afterwards.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: During the Contessa's fencing match with Bordeaux:
    Bordeaux: You'll never fence again!
    Contessa: You've never fenced before!