Friday, November 18, 2005

Home Movies: Season Three
TV on DVD review by Sombrero Grande

Brendon Small is an eight-year-old wannabe filmmaker who writes, directs and stars in his own highly elaborate “home movies” together with his best friends and constant co-stars Jason and Melissa. That’s the jumping off point for the grown-up-oriented animated series Home Movies. Though the bulk of the show ends up centering on Brendon and his friends’ adventures outside of movie making, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great film parodies worked in along the way.

The show’s humor is as dry as the Sahara. If you ever watched Comedy Central’s old Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist show, that should give you a good indication of the show’s sense of humor. Heck, Jonathan Katz even does one of the voices for Home Movies: Melissa’s dad. Jon Benjamin, who played the doctor’s son on Dr. Katz, voices Jason and the show’s true standout character, Coach McGuirk. While the episodes have their hits and misses, I found myself laughing quite a bit. Coach McGuirk is easily my favorite character. The kids’ soccer coach, McGuirk is the last person who should serve as a role model, yet he’s the one Brendon constantly goes to for help or advice. McGuirk is constantly hitting on Brendon’s single mother, is frequently drunk and is almost always hilarious.

Like Rocky and Bullwinkle or South Park, the good writing in Home Movies makes up for its highly simplistic animation. While it lacks the “squiggly” style of Dr. Katz, it does retain a highly basic and almost child-like visual look throughout. I would liken it to the kind of cartoon visuals you’d find in most Internet concoctions; there’s just enough there to get the point across and that’s it.

There are some nice extras on the Season Three DVD set, including a “Decide Your Doom Interactive Game” on disc one that allows viewers to navigate Jason through an infiltration of a sci-fi convention by making choices like “go north or south” or “east or west.” It’s a cute addition based on a similar scenario from the episode “Renaissance.” On disc two there’s “A Featurette For People Who Don’t Necessarily Like Home Movies by Jon Benjamin” that attempts to provide something funny that’s totally unrelated to the show. It’s rather amusing and you don’t have to not like the show to enjoy it. Disc three has a rather worthless feature, “Some Home Movies Fans - A Music Video,” which really isn’t a much of a music video but just still pictures of fans visiting what appears to be a Home Movies booth at the San Diego Comic Con. If you’re not planning on seeing yourself in one of the pictures, you can easily skip it altogether. There’s also a radio interview, commentary tracks and animatics for a few episodes. The packaging for Season Three is itself a nice extra. While it’s nothing terribly fancy, there’s not a boring surface to be found anywhere on it. Custom art, depicting several of Brendon’s short films and moments from throughout Season Three, decorates each slim disc cover inside and out.

The Season Three DVD set of Home Movies was my first introduction to the series and I have to say that it’s made me want to see more. It’ll never replace the Simpsons, South Park or even Family Guy DVD sets on my shelf, but it’s an amusing diversion. I’d recommend it to any fan of dry humor who doesn’t mind animation that looks like it was created for the Internet.


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