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I Know That Voice (2013)

Ever since the late, great Robin Williams gave his game-changing performance in Aladdin, there has been a notable shift in the voice acting biz. Particularly in the case of movies, there's been a move towards casting big names to voice characters. This has been at the expense of those who have built a career largely or entirely out of voice work alone. Despite these lost opportunities, the voice acting community continues to work hard in animation and video games and many names have built up a following. The documentary I Know That Voice- directed by Lawrence Shapiro and executive produced by John "voice of Bender" DiMaggio-  aims to celebrate these talented folks.

I Know That Voice is a pretty straightforward documentary. Rather than lean heavily on costly clips, the film mainly relies on talking-head interviews. But then, seeing as part of the appeal of the film is to put a face to voices you know so well, that's probably only fitting. The film managed to secure interviews with a veritable who's-who of the most beloved voice actors past and present including DiMaggio himself,  Nancy "Bart Simpson" Cartwright, Tom "SpongeBob" KennyMaurice "Brain" LaMarche and Rob "too many to mention" Paulsen. It even (through Archive footage) pays tribute to perhaps the most towering figure the industry has even produced- the one and only Mel Blanc.

It's a light and breezy watch that will appeal as much to the casual viewer as the animation fan or aspiring voice actor.  It's clear that the voice acting scene is a tight-knit and friendly community, and as a fan, it's enjoyable to get a glimpse into their world. Would-be voice-actors will find plenty of insight into the craft itself too. It's hard to see how anyone with aspirations of getting into the field could watch this and not feel inspired.

There are appearances from creators from the animation side as well, including Matt Groening and Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward. If you're into animation and aren't really sold on the importance of voice acting, it may very well change your mind. There's even segments dealing with video game voice acting and anime, although these subjects are only really touched on briefly. In a 90 minute run time that's understandable- frankly many of these subjects (and some of the interviewees) could comfortably fill a whole documentary on their own. Without exception, every interviewee is worthy of inclusion whether they offer genuine insight, or just entertainment value. There are a few omissions we'd have love to seen ( Frank Welker apparently declined) but that's just us being greedy.

Above all, this is just an unashamedly fun experience. It's well overdue to see the spotlight cast on this often overlooked part of the entrainment industry. These are some of the most talented people out there, and a key part in creating some of our favourite characters. To see them actually bring them to life before our eyes is an unmissable experience.  Highly recommended.

I KNOW THAT VOICE is now available via NETFLIX in the US, and CANADA Also available on DVD in the US.