Jetsons: The Movie (1990)

Rating:

USA. 1990.

Crew

Directors/Producers – Joseph Barbera & William Hanna, Screenplay – Dennis Marks, Music – John Debney, Songs – Tiffany, Animation Supervisor – David Michener, Production Design – Al Ganyer. Production Company – Hanna-Barbera

Voices

George O’Hanlon (George Jetson), Patric Zimmerman (Elroy Jetson), Tiffany (Judy Jetson), Penny Singleton (Jane Jetson), Mel Blanc (Mr Spacely), Ronnie Schell (Rudy Two), Dana Hill (Teddy Two), Jean Vanderpyl (Rosie the Robot)


Plot

Somebody is sabotaging the Spacely Sprocket Company’s asteroid-based automated production line. Mr Spacely chooses George Jetson, his stupidest, most loyal employee, to take charge of the operation. The Jetson family moves to the asteroid to investigate. However, instead of saboteurs, they find the Grungies, a race of teddy bear-like aliens whose city is in danger of being destroyed by the mining operations.


The Jetsons (1962-3) was one of the numerous productions that emerged from the legendary Hanna-Barbera cartoon stables in the 1960s. Hanna-Barbera had had huge success with their primetime cartoon The Flintstones (1960-7), which had essentially taken the family sitcom of The Honeymooners (1955-6) and cast it back to prehistoric life with dinosaurs and rocks in lieu of cars, stereos and so on. The Jetsons went the other way and cast the same family sitcom into a parody of a Hugo Gernsbackian future where all cars were finned and flew, all food was replaced by pills and everything was automated. As in The Flintstones, the fun came in seeing contemporary middle-class consumer gadgetry with a futuristic/prehistoric spin. Surprisingly, for the afterlife that The Jetsons has in syndication, only twenty-four episodes of the series were ever made. (The current series in syndication is built up more out of newer episodes that were made in the 1984 and 1987). There have been several Jetsons tv movies – The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones (1988) and Rockin’ With Judy Jetson (1989), as well as persistent rumours since at least the mid-1980s of the idea of a live-action Jetsons movie, which has had directors such as Joe Dante and Robert Rodriguez attached – before this theatrically released animated film from Hanna-Barbera.

Not a lot it has changed in two decades between the tv series and Jetsons – The Movie – the flying bubble-cars still have ludicrously oversized fender wings, while the Woman’s Movement has not exactly made in-roads – Jane still slaves tirelessly over the automated kitchen and Judy turns into a wilting teen at the nearest sight of a boy. Still the film boasts a cautiously liberal modern message – the houses are all mounted on extending pillars to get above the smog and the ending has a hardly-disguised message about the rape of the environment by big business (although the Grungies paint an inordinately sickly, cute face on the message that the film could well have done without, while the end of the film arrives at a more conservative message where big business agrees merely to exploit the teddy-bears’ labour more benevolently). The film has its moments – some of the devices and gadgetry, like the flying bubble-car that lands by creating holes underneath for its pilot’s legs to touch down and then folds up into a handy cube to be placed on a shelf labelled ‘Parking’.

The most interesting part in the film is when one of the extraneous love scenes turns into a lovely animated sweep of Cubist images and surrealistic colour plays (although an earlier love sequence with animated points of stars is much more inferior). The asteroid and mining base have been computer animated, allowing some (for-the-era) impressive depth animation effects. The songs showcase Tiffany – a talentless teen pop star of five minute non-success, so bad she is unable to even keep a note – who has three awful songs, which are at least kept thankfully brief. The 81 minutes passes rather blandly.




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