Some call it the Dr. Katz for the younger generation. I call it hilarious for anyone.
Running from 1999-2004, the Cartoon Network’s Home Movies was an intellectual nerd’s dream. Following main character Brendon, a geeky 8-year-old outcast who makes homemade films with his friends Melissa and Jason, the show originally appealed to adult fans of Katz, Aqua-Teen Hunger Force and the like. Indeed, like Katz, the humor in Home Movies is straight-up dead pan. Mostly improvised, especially through the first season, the dialogue is conversational and simple, contrasted with the ridiculous scripts the kids act out while shooting.
Everything Brendon deals with — school, his coach, his mom — is a distraction from his real goals in life: 1. Doing nothing and 2. Making home movies … in that order. Wise beyond his years, and smarter than just about everyone he knows (except Melissa), he finds ways out of every nominally sticky situation he gets himself into. Any kid can relate to him, and any adult can relate to him, too. As a parent, watching Brendon reminds me that kids are cultivating their own little lives, despite what we want so badly for them to do. Chores, school work, paying attention when we talk to them — it’s all standing in the way of their laziness and, if they have the energy, having fun.
With music from creator Brendon Small (co-creator of death metal parody show Metalocalypse), the show spends most of its time focused on the the three friends and their witty banter. Though Home Movies has garnered a PG rating from whomever it is that rates TV shows, it’s the perfect sit-down for open-minded parents and their older children. The rating may be justified, only in that the show deals with themes that may be slightly over younger kids’ heads. And there are minor vulgarities here and there, but it’s stuff that teenagers will find gut-bustingly funny.
The first season was done in Squigglevision, a style akin to its forerunner, Dr. Katz, but later on, the show went with a cleaner animation style. What remained was the homespun, familial humor that drove the series. The music, the movies the kids concoct and their long days at school messing with their verbose PE coach — it’s an entertaining and enlightening combination, especially for an unmotivated punk and his children.
See how I turned it around there … at the end … clever, eh?