Home Movies: Season 1

Home Movies: Season 1

Home Movies: Season 1 follows the trials and tribulations of Brendon Small, voiced by Brendon Small, so I would imagine that this is intended to be somewhat autobiographical

Home Movies: Season 1

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Although animation is thought of as being a media for children a look at its development over the years will demonstrate that it is in fact often geared towards adults.

Try listening to what Popeye mutters under his breath, it’s not for the kids. With the increase in cable stations it was only natural to have one channel devoted to cartoons, the Cartoon Network. Fortunately for adults the executives at that network had the foresight to see potential in more adult animation and created Adult Swim, an after hours segment of time devoted to this cartoons. Among the better of the bunch in this time slot is Home Movies. The series follows the trials and tribulations of Brendon Small, voiced by Brendon Small, so I would imagine that this is intended to be somewhat autobiographical. Brendon lives with divorced mother Paula (Paula Poundstone) and his younger sibling Josie (Loren Bouchard). Brendon main coping mechanism is to use his video camera to make little films with his best friends Melissa (Melissa Bardin Galsky) and Jason (H. Jon Benjamin) his films reflect the current dilemma.

In each episode Brendon and friends face some modern problem ranging from Brendon’s mom’s reentry into dating by going out with Brendon’s overbearing soccer couch to the modern bully that checks his day planner to make sure your appointment for a beating doesn’t conflict and even offers advice how best to take the aforementioned pummeling. While most of the children in this series are disconcertedly overly mature perhaps this is just a reflection of the times. When I was a kid there was a clear distinction between adults and children, a line that no eight year old would even think of crossing. Now, with more ‘socially progressive’ parents children are pushed rapidly into the role of miniature adults. This point is subtly pointed out with many of the conversations between Brendon and the adults in his life. His mother talks to him about her loneliness, her concerns and fears. Even though she realizes that this is inappropriate behavior there is no one else in her life to talk to so she turns to her son. The couch is the same in this respect, confiding in Brendon more than an eight year should have to hear. While the target audience of this series are young people brought up a fashion close to this they may not fully get some of the little jabs at this trend of ‘adultization’ of children.

All the characters in Home Movies: Season 1 are realistic, they live among us and they are us! While those in my demographic grew up in mostly the old traditional nuclear family Home Movies reflects the growing population of single parent households including the inherent emotional and financial difficulties this brings. In one episode on Home Movies: Season 1 Brandon wants to get a fish eye lens to help with his film about aliens. His mother is not even able to pay for ice cream for Brandon and his pals and has admit to her son they are on a tight budget. Home Movies: Season 1 is able to combine social commentary with humor in a format that remains enjoyable without becoming overly preachy.

Brendon and his pals have to somehow get through this new type of childhood, relating to adults while attempting to express the natural imagination of children. The plot point of Brandon’s films is excellent. If you watch closely each film allows the kids to act out what is one their minds in an imaginative and usually safe fashion. All kids play at acting but now children can film the proceedings. Back in the day a little tape recorder served the same purpose.

Home Movies: Season 1 presented in this box set was done in ‘Squigglevision’ that strange method of animation where the lines of the artwork are constantly moving, shifting around in each frame. If you have ever seen the animation of Dr. Katz on Comedy Central you know what I mean. The most important departure from the normal methods of producing an animated show is rather than recording each voice separately and editing them together Home Movies: Season 1 puts the cast comprised of talented stand up comedians in a room and just let them play off of each other. It’s this improvisation that makes Home Movies: Season 1 work as well as it does. There is a natural feel to the dialogue; it seems that sometimes the cast members are not sure which direction the conversations will take. This gives a very organic flow to each episode of Home Movies, you can almost forget Home Movies: Season 1 is a cartoon and start to get into the characters and their plights.

Brendon Small, the human, is to be credited for his devotion to Home Movies: Season 1. Originally picked up by UPN but cancelled after only six episodes, Small took Home Movies over to the Cartoon Network where it has completed four seasons. It is evident that just as the cartoon Brendon copes through his films; his human counter point uses Home Movies: Season 1. I guess it is better than therapy being paid instead of having expensive therapist fees. There is a lot of the ‘lets put on a show’ evident with all involved here. No one seems to take things too seriously; they are getting together and having fun.

Shout Factory is gaining a reputation for the production of little gems like Home Movies: Season 1 on DVD. The ‘Squigglevision’ animation makes the video a little difficult to judge, the process inherently has specks and what you might take as defects. It just adds to the undercurrent of the disconcerting feeling that the humor is built upon. The audio is better than average. The Dolby stereo is such that there is excellent separation between the left and right channels and the audio mix places most of the dialogue in the middle. Several episodes have commentaries from the creative people responsible for this show. While thy try to go over some of the technical details involved it usually winds up sounding like a bunch of friends getting together to talk about the show. Add to this a Brendon Film Festival and a mockumentary of the creative process and there is enough here to keep a smile on your face for a long while. Take a break from the standard television faire and try Home Movies: Season 1.

Movie Review of Home Movies: Season 1
by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com

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