25 years later, 'family movies' remain key to contemporary adult animation

On the surface, you might not find “Bob's Burgers” and “integrated analysis”. One is a fairly wholesome animated workplace comedy about a long-suffering restaurateur and his family trying to make ends meet while engaging in some wacky hijinks. The other is an animated black comedy about a death metal band so popular, stupid and violent that they might literally bring about the end of the world as we know it.

What do they have in common? A quarter-century ago, the show's co-creators created Home Movies, a classic adult animated sitcom about a precocious 8-year-old boy and his friends on their quest to while trying to overcome the dangers of childhood while pursuing his own dreams. While the show never achieved the mainstream popularity of “Bob's Burgers” or received as many reruns as “Metalocalypse,” it's still fondly remembered as a cult classic, even though it's set to premiere on April 26 Come broadcast the 25th anniversary.

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Back in 1999, UPN (now known as The CW) was looking for a new show about families and hired Tom Snyder Productions, then known for creating the Comedy Central animated show Doc.Katz: The Professional Therapist” for ideas. Their original concept for the series was an animated show starring the comedian Paula Poundstone As a single mother. Of course, having a single mom means having a kid to play with.Producer Katz while attending a comedy show Loren Bouchard Met comedian Brendon Small and hit it off, and the rest is history. Bouchard and Small took on the new show and worked on its concept and characters. The child was named after and played by Small, who later became an aspiring filmmaker, based on Small's own penchant for making silly movies as a child. Brendon's single mom, Paula, who's supportive but always exhausted, will be there, too.

Much of the show's storyline revolves around 8-year-old Brandon's misadventures with his two best friends and classmates – the adorable Melissa and the slightly obnoxious Jason. When they're not dealing with school-related mishaps, the trio make delightful low-budget movies together. As with most shows of this type, the children speak and act at a level well above what their age would suggest, but are still often stuck in childish thinking. When Brendan finds himself in trouble he's not sure how to solve, whether it's dealing with bullies or facing the idea of ​​his father remarrying, he either resorts to his sarcasm or gets the uninvited and often horrific suggestion.

Spend just a few minutes watching any episode and you'll develop a sense of familiarity with its spiritual successor, Bob's Burgers. While the character designs are a bit rough and simplistic, you can immediately feel Bouchard's influence. The world is filled with ragdoll-like noodle people whose conversations are strange and offbeat. You'll also immediately hear some familiar voices, from spoiled and annoying classmate Fenton (played by Sam Seid, the voice of Hugo in Bob's Burgers), Mr. Lindenson (Andy Kind) Le, as Mort), and, of course, Bob Belcher himself, in his impossibly smooth baritone, H. Jon Benjamin, who plays arguably the most haunting character on the show. Memorable (and quotable) character Jon McGurk.

The dialogue is undoubtedly where the show shines most – which is no surprise since the cast is largely made up of seasoned comedians. Many character interactions were improvised by the actors, following a plot outline prepared by the screenwriter. Characters will often talk to each other and make awkward pauses and other sounds, giving their interactions a raw, natural flow. This writing style, known as “retro”, would be gradually phased out in later seasons in favor of more structured dialogue, although sharp dialogue continued throughout the show.

“Home Movies” is certainly no slouch when it comes to music. In addition to a funky, minimalist score written by Small, it also features dozens of vocal songs that are often featured in films made by Brandon and his friends. Their style ranges from alternative and silly (with those heard on “Bob's Burgers”) to hardcore heavy metal tracks that sound perfect for the “Metalocolypse” album. Both styles of tunes figured prominently in Bouchard and Small's later series.

Unlike its adult animated contemporaries “Family Guy,” “Family Movie” initially struggled to build momentum. The show premiered to little fanfare on UPN, already one of the lowest-rated networks on television, and was canceled after just five measly episodes.

Thankfully, while few people are watching the show, some influential figures are paying attention—producers are brainstorming ideas for a new late-night show called Adult Swim for Cartoon Network. Since the production company behind “Home Movies” owned the rights to the show, they were free to sell it to networks, and the show had the honor of being the first show on the block. In fact, Home Movies did so well that the network funded three additional seasons. This would solidify the careers of Brendon Small and Loren Bouchard, helping them create the impact they needed to create “Metalocalypse” and “Bob's Burgers” respectively a few years later.

Those who grew up watching the “home movie” will no doubt be pleased to see its spirit live on in the creator's latest creative endeavor. Fans who continue to be entertained by their show year after year have “Home Movies” to thank for the foundation it laid, and hopefully the show will still be remembered for another 25 years.

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