Double acts are a staple of most animated films and TV shows.
Often they can be just as important as the protagonist or the story in determining a film’s success.
With that in mind, let’s find out who the best of the best are with our countdown of the ‘Six Greatest Animated Double Acts Ever!’
6. YZMA & KRONK – ‘THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE’
The most common use of a double act is comic relief.
Disney has successfully enriched films with comic Villain Sidekick combos, Prince John and Sir Hiss, Captain Hook and Smee … but none are funnier than Yzma and Kronk in ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’
Yzma is the power hungry and recently fired advisor to Emperor Kuzco. Her diabolical plan is to remove Kuzco by poisoning him so that she can take control of the kingdom for herself. Played by Eartha Kitt, Yzma is malicious and power hungry but has a comic eccentricity that is somewhat akin to a mad scientist. She is assisted in her ridiculous schemes by Patrick Warburton’s endearingly brainless Kronk. Kronk is everything Yzma isn’t, young, strong, stupid and fun loving, being the perfect ying to Yzma’s evil yang.
The film as a whole is one of Disney’s funniest offerings, it’s a laugh a minute story but nothing is more enjoyable than these two botching their way through trying to put Yzma’s scheme into action.
Their hilarious relationship really does carry what might have otherwise been a bit of a Disney flop, so much so that a sequel was made entitled ‘Kronk’s New Groove,’ just so you could see them back on your screen.
5. MIKE & SULLEY – ‘MONSTER’S INC.’
They might not be Pixar’s best-known duo, that spot is reserved for a certain Cowboy and Spaceman, but in my opinion, Mike and Sulley are the best double act package.
The traditional double act has the straight man and the joker. Both needing one another as a reaction point. As such, the Big, fluffy, dependable, and lovable Sulley is the perfect compliment to the small, sarcastic and tightly wound Mike.
Sulley is the emotional, beating heart that drives the plot forward where Mike provides the colour, commentary, and the humour. This is the perfect dynamic for a film that centres on two best friends, but unlike many other film friends you might see, their relationship feels very genuine and relatable.
You see their fast-talking, funny friendship moments where they’re just enjoying each others company, but also the points where they’re friendship put under intense strain. Through it all though, you can feel that the care about each other in a genuine way … which is lovely to see but also makes them truly memorable as a buddy duo.
4. JAFAR & IAGO – ‘ALADDIN’
Unlike the other villains to grace this list. Jafar and Iago are not on here just because they’re funny … even though they are.
Throughout Disney’s history villains have usually been categorized into one of two camps … funny villains, and evil villains, it’s hard to achieve both. Jafar and Iago between them manage it.
Jafar, the Royal Vizier to the Sultan of Agrabah, who harbours secret plans usurp the throne, is the classic evil villain with the classic evil villain’s plan. He’s conniving, manipulative, ambitious, slimy, murderous and completely amoral, with a great voice, (provided by Jonathan Freeman) and an excellent maniacal laugh. On his own, I’m not sure he’d have been up there with the greats such as Scar from ‘The Lion King,’ because his actions don’t cause the audience the same levels of emotional pain.
However, when coupled with Iago, far more humour can be drawn from their scenes as Iago constantly rants and complains, much to Jafar’s disdain. This allows for some really great entertaining and characterful banter between the two.
On their own, Jafar, though undoubtedly evil, would be somewhat one dimensional and underwhelming, and Iago would probably just be annoying, but together they enhance each other’s characters making something that is both funny and menacing, making them the most successful villainous duo you’ll find in animation.
3. WALLACE & GROMIT
A man’s best friend is his dog right … never has that been truer than with Wallace and his dog Gromit.
Gromit is the perfect straight man, or in this case dog. His silence coupled with his highly readable, almost pantomime expressiveness is often compared to the likes of Buster Keaton. I’ve heard people say that he is one of the most successful animated characters in history, you can read him totally without him saying a single word, which is a hard thing to do.
But, of course, Gromit needs someone to react to, a joker to his straight man, enter Wallace, a cheese-loving, bumbling inventor who is the constant cause of his own mishaps, which are often unknowingly rectified by Gromit.
The two contrast beautifully, Gromit is quietly cultured and intelligent where Wallace is over the top, eccentric and at times totally nieve. Their relationship turns the Master, Pet dynamic completely on its head, as it appears that Gromit is really looking after Wallace.
Both characters are so well designed, written and charmingly performed but fundamentally need one another to work effectively.
Their relationship, coupled with eccentric stories and a quirky animation style, have made Wallace and Gromit some of Britain’s most iconic characters, being one of the first things that anyone thinks of when ‘animation’ is brought up in conversation, and this is really a testament to the success of the two.
2. TOM & JERRY
The concept of one animal trying to catch the other has been done a lot in cartoon history.
Sylvester and Tweety, Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote … even Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd … but none of them have done it better than Tom and Jerry. They are the archetype for the genre.
Tom is your classic house cat, usually portrayed as pampered and comfortable but forever infuriated by his inability to catch and humiliate Jerry.
Jerry himself is a small brown mouse who usually lives in the wall cavity, usually not the aggressor, he is usually there to outwit Tom’s elaborate schemes and make them backfire on him.
Tom is no match for Jerry’s wits, which is why they are constantly at odds.
The thing that is really amazing is that the classic cartoons are created often with no dialogue at all, using slapstick comedy, but it’s done in such a way that you fall in love with both characters, even though Tom is usually the antagonist.
There have been times, such as in the Tom and Jerry movie where we’ve not only seen them talk, but also become friends, hinting that they may actually really care for one another … after all, you couldn’t have Tom without Jerry.
Their legacy is also undeniable, paving the way for the other previously mentioned, ‘cat and mouse’ style cartoons, and even being homaged in the Simpson’s as ‘Itchy and Scratchy.’ Tom and Jerry are not only one of the best cartoon pairings ever, they’re one of the best cartoons ever!
1. TIMON & PUMBAA – ‘THE LION KING’
When someone mentions a cartoon duo my mind immediately goes to one place … Timon and Pumbaa.
They’re the complete package.
Timon is a wisecracking, self-absorbed but carefree meerkat who is rarely seen without his best friend Pumbaa, the friendly, loyal, at times naive and ever flatulent Warthog.
The pair provides refuge at a time when the main protagonist Simba is at his lowest, and through their friendship, he is rebuilt and finds his zest for life again.
Timon and Pumbaa top this list for several reasons.
They are probably the best representation of friendship, being shown as perfectly in sync, even to the extent that Timon feels free to claim Pumbaa’s ideas for his own, and Pumbaa just treats it as normal. Accepting this far from ideal character trait.
Not only this, they provide some of the best comic moments of the film, making themselves some of the stand-out characters. Their legacy in this regard extends to their spin-off TV series and even their own film the Lion King 1 ½, which documents how they met and were inadvertently involved in many of the key moments in the original lion king film. On paper, this should have been a disaster … but it was great because their relationship and wit are great.
And then … there’s Hakuna Matata. No double act in animation has a song or phrase that has a cultural impact like Hakuna Matata.
All these aspects combined with the flawless performances from their voice actors, Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella, makes Timon and Pumbaa the most iconic, heartwarming, funny and memorable double act in animation ever!
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Do you agree with this list? Are there any we missed? Who’s your favourite animated double act ever?
Let us know in the comments and don’t forget come back soon for more great content on the MICblog.