Cutting my television teeth in the late '80s and early '90s, it is safe to say I was a Nick Kid. Nickelodeon in the early '90s started producing Nicktoons, and now one of them is back in all its '90s glory in a Netflix movie called "Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling."
"Rocko's Modern Life" was one of my favorite cartoons growing up. The original show, created by Joe Murray, aired on Nickelodeon from 1993 to 1996 before going off the air. It was the fourth of the original Nicktoons, including "The Ren & Stimpy Show," "Rugrats" and "Doug." The show was about a talking wallaby named Rocko, his dog Spunky and his closest friends Heffer Wolfe and Filbert Turtle. The main crew was constantly at odds with Rocko's frog neighbor, Mr. Bighead.
Rocko lived a fairly modern life, as modern as a talking wallaby could in the '90s. However, in "Static Cling," a rocket blasts his house and everybody inside into outer space, where they stay for 20 years before returning to our current modern world.
Rocko is lost when his house lands back on Earth. Like an old man sitting at a computer for the first time, Rocko is so out of his element with the new technology that he is extremely uncomfortable with everything around him. Worst of all, his favorite show ("The Fatheads," based on Mr. and Mrs. Bighead and written by their son), which got him through 20 years in space, has gone off the air. Rocko has to find a way to get the show back into production, so he needs to find the writer and animator, Ralph Bighead.
After 20 years of not having Rocko, Rocko's friends and their shenanigans mess with his life, Mr. Bighead becomes a huge success...that is until Rocko shows back up at his front door. Then his life, once again, becomes a living hell and he spirals his company into the ground. Now even Mr. Bighead's only hope rests on the shoulders of his distant son.
This 45-minute movie captures the best of what '90s Nicktoons were. The animation style is on point with the original series. The look is so nostalgic to people growing up in the '90s. The drawings are beautiful, yet a bit rude and crude. There is a gross aspect to it that I remember loving as a child...and even now as an adult, the gimmick hasn't worn off. There is a spherical quality to the artwork. The horizon seems so round.
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The B-52s rock on in the classic "Rocko's Modern Life" theme song. Even most of the original cast from the early to mid '90s reprise their voice-acting roles (many actors play a multitude of different characters).
The movie also includes many socio-political thoughts. It reflects upon the times we are in today. There is a "Buzzbucks" on every corner. People flood "The O Store" whenever the new version of "The O-Phone" comes out. Rocko doesn't yet know about touch-screen phones, so he is confused about how to use a phone without buttons. Society has an obsession with energy drinks and the energy drink companies send energy drink-shaped cars out with energy drink merch-clad babes to hose down crowds with their toxic delights.
There are other issues that are brought up in this special, as well. The phrase "go back where you came from" is used poignantly a couple times. There are issues dealing with the acceptance of a loved one who has gone through a gender change. I think the overall message of the show is to embrace change.
Also, throughout the special, Rocko hints at a comeback for his regular show. There are parallels between the issues in this special and what it would mean for the show as a reboot.
I'd give this Netflix movie special an A-. It was brilliant and it brought all the nostalgia. It brought in issues we deal with on a daily basis. The teams at Nickelodeon and Netflix really brought their A game to this project and I truly hope a new series will come out of the wake of this release.
Get on Netflix, watch "Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling" and tell us what you think.