TL;DR – This is a very interesting reboot of a beloved cartoon from the 1990s but I am not sure that it hit its mark.
I grew up in the 1990s, so for me when I think about those cartoons that situated my life for the weird and abstract toons of the peak-Nickelodeon. Shows like Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, The Angry Beavers, and of course the weirdly absurd Rocko’s Modern Life were very much a part of that. Rocko’s Modern Life is/was a show that used its abstract art style and storytelling to shine a light on the world. Now, it has been years since I have watched an episode so when a new special was released, well I knew it was time to jump back in.
So to set the scene, since the end of the last season of Rocko’s Modern Life, Rocko (Carlos Alazraqui), Heffer Wolfe (Tom Kenny), Spunky, and Filburt (Mr. Lawrence) have spent the last twenty years flying around space after a rocket took their house into space. After all that time, at least their mutual love of the Fat Heads brings them together. But tragedy strikes when the VCR of the show dies, the one thing keeping them sane. Thankfully, at that moment they find the remote for the rocket lodged in Heffer’s posterior. But when they arrive back to O-Town, a lot has changed.
is, of course, jokes and observations about the modern wall with a Starbucks on
every corner in the first few moments of him landing back on Earth. I was
worried for a while it would just be about ‘isn’t the 21 century weird’ jokes
and while that is a large portion of the show it is also more than that. However,
if there was one theme of this special it was a Meta reflection on the very
nature of a 20-years-later reboot. In many respects, this is an episode that is
dissecting the very nature of its own existence and looking at how fans want
the shows they are familiar with to come back but with no changes. This is
something that we have seen a lot in recent times and is probably one of the
factors contributing to the recent shot-for-shot remakes of films.
As always the art style of the show is as abstract as ever exploring that more absurd style of animation that was common in the 1990s. Characters talk out of their noses, the world is full of fart jokes and sentient clouds, and there is a barley a straight line in sight. It is a very unique style in this day and age and it is one that you are either going to love or hate because it is not something I think you can be neutral over.
it comes to the story, there are obvious nods back to the series and while I
think I got a lot of them, it has been a while so I know I missed a lot, and I
know that there will be a lot of freeze-framing going on in those big cast
scenes. As well as the reflections on the nature of a reboot, the other plot thread
is trying to help Mr Bighead (Charlie Adler) put his life back together after
Rocko accidentally destroyed it. It is also here where there is probably the
biggest change from the original show. I don’t want to get into it because it
would be spoilers, but also because I don’t think I am the best person to judge
if that change worked or not. But it will be interesting to see other’s
response to this.
In the end, do we recommend Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling? That is actually a difficult one to say. Coming away from this, I really feel like this is a show that should be right up my ally but also that it didn’t quite work for me. I think part of this was that a lot of the jokes didn’t land as well for me and that it was focused on the core fan which I am not part of. With that in mind, I think this is one more than a lot of the things that I review that will be a very subjective viewing.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow
Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,
he’ll be talking about International Relations,
or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Rocko’s Modern Life
Directed by – Joe Murray & Cosmo Segurson
Written by – Joe Murray, Mr. Lawrence, Martin Olson, Dan Becker, Tom Smith & Cosmo Segurson
Created by – Joe Murray
Production/Distribution Companies – Joe Murray Productions Inc., Nickelodeon Animation Studios & Netflix
Starring – Carlos Alazraqui, Tom Kenny, Mr. Lawrence, Charlie Adler, Linda Wallem, Joe Murray, Jill Talley, Steve Little, Cosmo Segurson, Dan Becker & Tom Smith