Jan 11, 2007
Mister T “Fortune Cookie Caper” (part 3 of 8)
The animation returns with a pan across New York’s Chinatown. We see neon signs, red terraced roofs, Chinese lanterns, banners across the street—all the stuff that’s straight out of The World of the Hollywood China-Man. I doubt I even have to describe it, or tell you that the real Chinatown in Manhattan is nothing like this.
For one thing, the real Chinatown is crowded and bustling, full of short, narrow streets, tons of parked and moving cars, and thousands of people. Only part of it is decorated (for the tourists) with dragons and bright neon and stuff like that. (When Sam Raimi went to the real Chinatown for Spider-Man 2, the art director had to hang up extra signs and neon so it looked like Chinatown.)
But this Chinatown has huge broad streets with hardly any people. And no cars. Not one. Even more amazingly, as we’re panning across the scene, a rickshaw goes by [!!]. A rickshaw? In Manhattan?! That is just profoundly stupid.
The net effect is that an animated depiction of Chinatown has still managed to evoke the unconvincing air of a Hollywood back lot. I mean, I know these people were probably out in Los Angeles. But they’re not photographing New York, they’re drawing it. They can get it right with pretty much the same amount of effort it takes to get it wrong. This is the sort of thing that makes me think that anything that originates in New York, including films, books, photographs, and postcards, is just plain illegal in California. They must have a government-mandated device out there, like a catalytic converter, that turns off your TV if you try to watch Letterman.