After 20 years in space, Rocko struggles to adjust to life in 21st century O-Town and makes it his mission to get his favorite show back on the air.
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The classics are back!
Think all the way back in 2017, Nickelodeon released two trailers of their cartoon classics coming back. They revealed that they are bring back Hey Arnold! and Rocko’s Modern Life as TV movies and specials. Hey Arnold! came back as a movie titled Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie in November 23rd, 2017 on public television where we finally got to see the answers about Arnold’s missing parents. Years later, it was announced that the special Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling would appear in the streaming subscription service Netflix instead of public TV along with the return of Invader Zim. On August 9th, Netfliz premiered this movie. Now that Rocko is back from the 90s, let us be prepared for more cartoons making comebacks such as Invader Zim and a planned Rugrats live action movie. In this review, I am going to review this movie and let you know as a fan of the 90s if this is a miss or hit. I will explain what is Rocko’s Modern Life for new people.
Rocko’s Modern Life: A 90’s Nick cartoon
Before SpongeBob was a big deal, we had an impressive selections of Nickelodean classics. We had cartoons like Hey Arnold!, Doug, Rugrats, Angry Beavers and Aaahh!! Real Monsters. One of them was a cartoon called Rocko’s Modern Life where the main plot was about a wallaby named Rocko who has crazy adventures in O-Town with his friends Heffer and Filburt. He has a dog named Spunky who is both loyal and goofy and he has his neighbors Mr. and Mrs Bighead who has some involvement in his life; Mr. Bighead was a grouchy and didn’t care for Rocko, but his wife respected and admired Rocko. They also had a son named Ralph Bighead, but he is distant of the family because he would be a cartoonist than follow in his father’s footstep. Rocko’s Modern Life premiered in September 18, 1993 and was stopped showing up on TV on November 24th, 1996. This show appealed to fans who was both kids and adults; the adult fans loved the show’s sense of humor and innuendos and some would agree that it shares similarities to Ren and Stimpy. Thanks to the show’s success, this show has influenced the voice actors and creators pursuit of projects. According to the Wikipedia, one of the people involved with this cartoon was Stephen Hillenburg who would later create SpongeBob SquarePants. Tom Kenny, who voices Rocko’s friend Heffer, also does the voice as Dog from CatDog and also SpongeBob SquarePants. Now that we’re in 2019, the creator of Rocko’s Modern Life Joe Murray is back and as well as the previous voices for the characters such as Carlos Alazraqui, Tom Kenny, Doug Lawrence (aka Mr. Lawrence) and Charlie Adler.
Now that you get the idea, let’s get started on the review!
Plot: 20 years flies by
The story picks up during a random misadventures for Rocko and Spunky and his friends Heffer and Filburt as they are flying in space in a rocket attached to Rocko’s house and orbiting around the Earth for 20 years. After finally getting control of the rocket, Rocko and his friends fly the rocket down back to Earth returning back to O-Town where everything seemly looks the same but also different. After being trapped in space, Rocko and his friends realizes that they are no longer in 90s and are in the 21st century where people are enjoying their version of Starbucks, iPhones, 3D printing and food trucks. Heffer and Filburt are enjoying the changes, but not Rocko as he can’t handle all the new things of the 21st century. He’s not the only suffering because his neighbor Mr. Bighead is also going through a crisis at work. After calculating wrong numbers at work, O-Town faces a heavy decreases in the stock market resulting a loss of money and also firing Mr. Bighead’s job and losing everything he owns. Going back to Rocko’s story, he realizes that in order to keep part of the 90s with him, he tries bring back his favorite cartoon series “The Fatheads”, but quickly realizes that they are gone and not many people watch them. Rocko sets out in a quest with his friends to find the creator of “The Fatheads”, Ralph Bighead, in order to keep the nostalgia and bring back the 90s.
Review: A Great Return for Fans of 90s!
I seen this movie two times and I am here to say, I like it. I grew up watching this show as a kid and now that I am an adult, I can get the jokes and relate to characters. I feel like this movie was a major throwback to fans and I feel like it was made especially for them. I really love how they updated the animation and still made it like the original style. The voices for the characters was awesome as ever and it felt like the way I remembered hearing them. In the nostalgia elements of the movie, I really like how they did their best to bring all the familiar characters even if some had little roles or have no story involvement such as Heffer’s grandpa who is now a ghost and the superhero Really Really Big Man. The humor was like the cartoon series and I thought the way they made fun of modern day trends pure comedy gold. I really like how Heffer and Filburt played around tools like drones and vlogging and Spunky being obsessed with mops on the internet. I think what I really enjoyed the most was Rocko and his story. The main focus on Rocko was that he couldn’t adjust to the 21st century and he thinks that bring back something from the past will make life easy. His story isn’t the only focus in the movie, we also have Mr. Bighead’s subplot and his opinion to his son. The creator of the show also does a controversial twist and decided to make Bighead’s son Ralph into a trans named Rachel. Not only Mr. Bighead is losing his job and property, but he also couldn’t handle his son’s gender decision. Cartoon or not, I can see this being a big deal in today’s society. To be honest, I wasn’t all into the whole LGBT theme, but I digress for the sake of the plot. I know I hear some people don’t mind this change but there are other people who also don’t like the idea of turning a fictional character a trans. Going back to the review, Rocko and Ed Bighead’s opinion towards change is the main theme of the movie and I think this movie does an excellent job on discussing it. We have Rocko unable to adjust the world and the new way of living and we have Ed who can’t handle his son’s independent life.
I only found a few aspects I could think of that I believe people may not like in this movie. This movie is really short! I am not sure if it’s a movie or a special, but this movie was short as 45 minutes long. The pacing is pretty fast and if you have time to kill, you can watch this in a snap. Like I mentioned before, this movie was made for the fans. Newcomers either may or may not get the jokes or characters in the first run. It may not be SpongeBob or The Loud House, but it still holds some of the cheesy charm that people love. Also mentioned about the LGBT topic, this movie does bring it up and plays a role. If you are against the LGBT community or agenda or for whatever reason, this may hinder your interest and the fact that they changed an already existing character into a trans can leave a sour taste. Like mentioned, this movie is pretty short so that we don’t get to see much of O-Town in the 21st Century. It was nice to see Heffer and Filburt play around with technology, but we don’t see it much in this movie and the focus is only on Rocko and his feelings towards change.
Conclusion: Netflix recommendation?
Should you watch Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling? If you grew up watching Rocko as a kid, I would say yes. This special does an awesome job giving fans a nostalgia throwback and a good joke on today’s trend. The team behind this special are all back so that means the animation got updated significantly and the voices for the characters are back and are good as ever just like the 90s. I thought the conflict with Rocko and the change of today was an excellent story plot and I feel like Rocko represents the people who grew up in the 90s. Ed Bighead was another character I like and I like he had his own personal struggles in change and how he learned that not all is lost as long as you have people you love. I think this movie is like a reunion for fans who remembered watching Nickelodeon in the 90s. I also want to recommend this new fans as long they don’t mind the characters and the world they live in. I wish this was longer so we can explore more of Rocko’s world in the new era.
What do you think about this movie/special? Comment down below on your thoughts.