I do tend to be brutally honest. On the one hand, that works well with some readers, as they appreciate my almost guttural conviction to dish out the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth when it comes to my opinion on things. On the other hand, I realize that occasionally I need to temper my opinion with the requisite amount of fluffiness necessary to keep some folks’ attention. As I recently remarked in a review chatback, I tend to prefer writing reviews for folks I consider literate as they tend to appreciate what I have to say more than most. You’ll have to pardon me if I feel the some works deserve to be trumpeted more loudly than others, but that’s merely the nature of how I do what I do.
Based on what I learned from I KNOW THAT VOICE, I would imagine that’s a sentiment of mine not lost on the likes of the legendary John DiMaggio. In fact, he played a role in getting this documentary produced for much of the same reasoning: he wanted to trumpet the greatness of American voice actors. And – for the record – I concur.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the product packaging: “Great animation begins with great voices that bring your favorite characters to life. I Know That Voice offers fans an in-depth look into the fascinating world of voice acting with the legends of yesterday and today … This film is a must for anyone with an interest in voice acting, with insight on everything from radio, television and feature animation to the world of anime and video games. After just one viewing, you will undoubtedly say, ‘I Know That Voice!’”
Seriously, I couldn’t get through this without a silly grin across my face.
See, my first real interest in entertaining others was in radio. Back in my high school days, a group of guys and I put together a weekly radio club wherein the local station gave us a timeslot to fill up with practically anything (within some modest restraints). And fill it up we did! Naturally, we’d report on some of the happenings in the community, but – more often than not – we’d fill it up with our own little plays, skits, and commentary, complete with voices, music and sound effects. I graduated and went on to college, where I kept after my fascination with the human instrument by participating in college radio as both a disc jockey as well as a producer of broadcast content.
So the subject matter of I KNOW THAT VOICE really hits close to home for me, as it does the wealth of vocal talent featured in the documentary. While I approached the feature with some minor trepidations (I’m generally not a fan of documentaries), I couldn’t help but fall in love with what director Lawrence Shapiro brought to life from these fact-filled and downright fun interviews with voice actors from across the industry.
To the film’s credit, I suspect it would’ve been easy to make this a fawning presentation about the unsung heroes of the medium. After all, even DiMaggio himself admits that he wanted to bring this project to life because of how he feels so strongly in support of not only it but also the vast collection of players who’ve made it what it is today. That singular focus could’ve easily pushed VOICE into the realm of the worst kind of vanity project – one made to champion the players and not the art form. However, the scholarship and commitment of this talented roster – a battalion of actors who know not only their business inside and out but also can speak knowledgably about its history – make this the easiest, breeziest, most affable 90 minutes I’ve spent ‘getting an education’ in quite some time.
I KNOW THAT VOICE (2013) is produced by Dundee Entertainment and Record Farm Industries. DVD distribution is being handled by Video Services Corporation. As for the technical specifications? This is smartly shot and assembled release, and the creative folks have spared no effort in giving it the best quality sights and sounds – would you expect less from a film highlighting sound? Lastly – if it’s special features you want – then you’re in store for a treat: there are sixteen additional interviews from some of the industry’s key players (many of them commenting on favorite characters they’ve played or the like); deleted scenes; an appearance at ComicCon 2013; and an audio commentary from DiMaggio, Shapiro, and Tommy Reid. Seriously, it’s a great assortment of materials that show the love these folks have for what they do, and it’ll be enjoyed by those who appreciate it as much as I do.
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE. Methinks you’ll find it hard not to smile as these insiders take you on your own private tour of the voice acting industry. There are some familiar faces, but there are even more familiar voices. Spend ninety minutes with these smilers, and you’re liable to have as much fun with it as I did. A brash, bold, and benevolent adventure!
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at VSC (aka Video Services Corp.) provided me with a DVD copy of I KNOW THAT VOICE by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.