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Stop-Motion Animation DVDs

Top Picks for Cartoons

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Stop-motion animation is a technique used to create three dimensional, yet primitive, cartoons such as Robot Chicken on Adult Swim. These DVDs are my top picks of cartoons using stop-motion animation.

1. 'The Nightmare Before Christmas'

Nightmare Before Christmas
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Nightmare Before Christmas has animation that is unique, visionary and delightful to watch. There are dark moments in this film, but there are a lot of wonderfully witty moments, too. I love that our beloved holidays, and all their trappings, are used as punchlines. Even if you usually shy away from musicals, the animation helps you suspend your disbelief when these characters break into morbid song.
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2. 'The Fantastic Mr. Fox'

The Fantastic Mr. Fox on DVD
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Director Wes Anderson is so visionary that his movies were included in the Criterion Collection when he was still young, still new. He certainly put his mark on The Fantastic Mr. Fox, starring George Clooney and Meryl Streep. The cepia-toned palette and stop-motion animation give the story an old-fashioned feel. Keeping the voices of the actors subdued until the plot calls for an almighty clishmaclaver makes viewers listen closely to the clever and very human dialogue. Do not be deceived by the movie being marketed for children; this is a movie to be enjoyed by all ages.

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3. 'The Incredible Adventures of Wallace & Gromit'

Wallace and Gromit
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These are the first shorts created by Nick Park, the animator behind Chicken Run. Three shorts are included in this set. A Grand Day Out was nominated for an Oscar. The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave both won Oscars in the years they were nominated. Though the humor isn't as off-the-wall as Robot Chicken, the animation is amazing and the jokes are really funny. It helps if you appreciate British humor, too.
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4. 'Chicken Run'

Chicken Run
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Chicken Run may be labeled a family film, but that doesn't mean it's a yawner. The clever animation and writing make this film amusing and touching. The characters are endearing and the villains are truly awful. All the voices, including Mel Gibson as Rocky the Flying Rooster, are spot on. Because it's a family film, the humor can be appreciated by all ages. I especially love the Indiana Jones kind of near-misses during every escape attempt.
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5. 'Corpse Bride'

Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
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Another Tim Burton film, Corpse Bride is a beautiful movie, mesmerizing to watch. The songs are well-written and the characters are clever and diverse. My only problem with the movie is how predictable the story is. It lacks the originality of Nightmare Before Christmas, but it's an amazing achievement in stop-motion animation.
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6. 'Best of Mr. Bill'

Best of Mr. Bill
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Mr. Bill was an early clay character who met one violent end after another on Saturday Night Live. Mr. Bill is a classic because the animation was cutting edge at the time, and the humor is completely irreverent, much like Robot Chicken. This set includes "Mr. Bill Does Vegas," "Mr. Bill Goes Hollywood" and "Mr. Bill Christmas Special." Plus see a long roster of guest stars and hilarious extras.
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7. 'Celebrity Deathmatch'

Celebrity Deathmatch
Viacom
Celebrity Deathmatch has the same sense of humor of Robot Chicken when it comes to pop culture. In this series from MTV, celebrities are put in the ring to duke it out. Most of the time, lots of bloodshed and laughs are involved. See celebs like "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Celine Dion, Rob Zombie, the Spice Girls and many more. You'll love the commentary and animated violence. The only drawback to this DVD is its availability and price.
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8. 'Monkeybone'

Monkeybone
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Okay, don't start booing yet. Yes, the story doesn't quite succeed. Yes, you've begun to associate Brendan Fraser (unfairly, I might add) with shlock. But this film can be appreciated for its zany and wonderfully crafted animation, and sometimes its wicked humor. It's a film that pokes fun at itself even when it's making a parody of the world we live in. Again, this is Tim Burton putting his Beetlejuice kind of stamp on the differences between the sexes, using fun stop-motion animation.
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