“Animalympics” Has a Sporting Chance to Become One of Your Favorite Animated Films

Commissioned by NBC to air during the broadcast of the 1980 Summer Olympics (though that never happened, of course), this first in an intended two-part spoof of the games features anthropomorphic animals, such as alligator runner Bolt Jenkins, dachshund skier Kurt Wüffner, goat marathoner René Fromage, tucan cliff diver Primo Cabeza, lionness marathoner Kit Mambo, and more. The action is hilarious and exciting, proving that Animalympics is a sporting event that everyone can cheer for. Despite the project being marred by outside factors, it became something of a minor classic. (Largely due to the fantastic work of a skilled team of animators that included future hitmakers Roger Allers (The Lion King) and Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles).

Further adding to the film’s impeccable pedigree is brilliant voicework from Gilda Radner, Billy Crystal and Harry Shearer, and skilled direction from Steven Lisberger — the artistic visionary who went on to make a little film for Disney called Tron. When viewed from a 2018 perspective, Animalympics is both an engaging throwback to the golden age of traditional cel animation and a work whose brilliant editing and skilled use of music seems ahead of its time. In short, the film is a gold medal winner, then, now and always. Don’t miss this cartoon charmer.