Cartoon Network // 2011 // 132 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Mac McEntire // January 18th, 2013
Green paint, hair remover, toilet paper, and a school locker are all clues in this mysterious mystery facing Gumball and his suspects, er, friends.
A stereotype of children's entertainment is that it is baffling to adults. Everything from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers to Teletubbies to Yo Gabba Gabba! to Adventure Time often has parents scratching their heads. This stuff catches kids' attention, though, with a lot of bright colors, catchy music, and energetic performances. The Amazing World of Gumball exists in that same realm, with candy-colored visuals, in-your-face humor, and enough random weirdness to make David Lynch's head explode.
Here's what I think the show is about: Gumball (Logan Grove, Young Justice) is some sort of cat-like creature, living with his family in the suburbs. He goes to school, hangs out with his friends and his brother, and has numerous misadventures. His brother, by the way, appears to be a fish, and other members of his family are rabbits. His classmates include animals and creatures of all shapes and sizes.
What makes this show stand out among others is its look. The characters are a combination of 2D animation and CGI, with some stop-motion characters (perhaps they're CGI made to look like stop-motion, as that line is increasingly blurred these days). All the backgrounds are photographs of actual physical locations (although perhaps these too have been created in CGI). This mishmash of styles makes the look unlike anything else on the air.
Storywise, these are your basic gag cartoons. There's a basic set-up -- Gumball tries to solve a mystery! Gumball has to babysit his little sister! Gumball studies for a big test -- and then the writers run through whatever crazy antics they can spin out of those situations. A few of the jokes are inspired, such as Gumball's brain becoming its own character. Others, however, replace actual jokes with extreme facial expressions that fill the entire screen, as well as gross-out humor involving puking or drooling. So, the laughs are hit or miss.
The random craziness is the show's biggest selling point, but also its biggest detriment. There are no "rules" to this world the characters inhabit, which means the animators can draw/model anything they want and put it in any given episode. This sometimes adds to the humor, but more often than not, reactions from viewers will likely be "What the heck am I watching?"
Episodes are around 10-12 minutes each, airing in back-to-back 30-minute blocks on TV, with all 12 episodes on a single disc. As you'd expect, colors are bright and vivid (some might say glaring) and sound is appropriately loud and headache-inducing. The only extra is a small character guide.
Because episodes are so short, Gumball can be enjoyed in short bursts, which is probably the best way to enjoy it. It's so wildly over-the-top that you'll be exhausted after just a few episodes.
He has a spoon!
Review content copyright © 2013 Mac McEntire; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Cartoon Network
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 132 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Character Guide