The Malaysian 3D English-language animation Ribbit will feature the voice talents of Sean Astin, Tim Curry, and Russell Peters in a frog’s coming of age story. Directed by Chuck Powers and written by Powers and Amir Hafizi, the film is co-produced by Malaysia’s KRU Studios and India’s Crest Animation.
Ribbit revolves around a frog who suffers an identity crisis while venturing on an Amazon journey. Oddly repulsed by both water and hopping, the story also seems to put a spin on the princess and the frog tale, with the titular Ribbit hypnotized into believing he may be a prince trapped in a frog’s body.
Astin, starring as Ribbit, is recognizable for his role as Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Although that success has had only a limited impact on Astin’s career in recent years, he does have a number of projects in the pipeline. In addition to Ribbit, he has two films recently completed (Mom’s Night Out and Out West), with the former due for a theatrical release in May, two indie pics in post-production (The Dramatics and The Surface), and two in pre-production (Reaching from Above and Kickback), the latter of which will put him opposite John Cusack.
In addition to Astin, Canadian comedian Russell Peters, who previously appeared in Source Code, and British actor Tim Curry are both on board. Curry played Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) and received a Tony nomination for his performance in Monty Python’s Spamalot. Ribbit will be screened at Cannes Film Festival, where it will be looking for a North American distribution deal.
Ribbit follows a couple of recent trends: Malaysian productions arriving in the U.S., and foreign animation studios priming English-language releases. Director/producer Gareth Evans has been spearheading the Malaysia-Hollywood connection over the last few years with his well-received The Raid and forthcoming The Raid 2, as well as another martial arts epic, Killers, which premiered at Sundance. Ribbit wouldn’t seem to have a lot in common with these pics, which is why the more apt comparison may come with Tarzan 3D, a German-produced animated take on the classic ape-man which features the voice of Kellan Lutz (Twilight). Similar to the way other technologies have made high quality live action films easier and cheaper to produce, the spread of quality and accessible 3D rendering programs have made it possible for more and more studios to challenge established powers like Pixar and Dreamworks Animation. All that remains to be seen is whether films like Ribbit will have the quality necessary to be trendsetters rather than anomalies.