Recently, director Christopher Columbus complained about Disney's plans to remake HOME ALONE. He pointed out that when something has staying power, you cannot recapture that lightning in a bottle, no matter how much money you throw at it. That's kind of the way I feel about this reboot. While it often imitates the style of the original cult series, everything feels so much safer-- and dare I say it, a little more mean-spirited.
Good things first: the Pinky and the Brain segments are amazing. They understand these characters and what made the original shorts so funny without saturating themselves in nostalgia. Also the animation is pretty good on the whole as is the orchestrated music in the style of the old Looney Tunes cartoons.
Unfortunately, the rest of the show doesn't live up to the old one. Firstly, there's something off about this presentation of the Warner siblings. They seem to be going for a more "the 21st century is so insane that the Warners are the sane ones now" approach, which doesn't really work. These characters as originally presented were essentially the Marx Brothers filtered through classic cartoon logic: they spread anarchic madness wherever they went, to both the innocent and the not-so-innocent. The Variety review of the reboot is on point when it says that the Warners were agents of madness driving an uptight world insane, not "snarky pundits commenting on its flaws." To be fair, the Warners shorts do have good jokes and flashes of the old style-- it's not a total failure, but the smug attitude gets old fast, especially when they make the same jokes about being sellouts to Hulu.
But the bigger problem is the lack of other characters beyond the Warners and the mice. I once read that ANIMANIACS was in a way THE MUPPET SHOW of its generation: a variety show that appealed to adults and kids with its vaudevillian sense of humor and willingness to take creative risks. The original series featured several reoccurring characters, ranging from the cartoony to the more dramatic. Not all of them stuck or worked, but the variety made the show interesting to watch. There was a willingness to play around that the reboot lacks-- making all the show's self-aware jokes about the creative bankruptcy of reboots hit a little more sourly.
I seem to be in the minority, but that's fine. There is a lot to enjoy, but it doesn't work for me. Personally, I think the most successful modern reboot is still DUCKTALES 2017, which remembers what made the original series good while updating it in ways that add to its charms.
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