Cartoon Network // 2011 // 132 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // September 9th, 2012
"Wait a minute...wiener doesn't mean winner, it means sausage."
Gumball Watterson is a 12-year old cat who lives with his sister, Anais, and his adopted brother, Darwin, who was formerly the family's pet fish before he sprouted legs and learned to talk. Gumball's mom, Nicole, is the family breadwinner, while his father, Richard -- a 6 foot 5 rabbit -- is a stay-at-home dad with possible mental deficiencies. The Amazing World of Gumball follows the Wattersons as they go about their daily life, which inevitably leads to utter chaos.
It's bizarre and undoubtedly very silly, but that didn't stop The Amazing World of Gumball from winning universal acclaim in the Pritchard household. Having asked my three year old son for his thoughts on the show, I was informed it was "really funny." I'll admit I had hoped for a more detailed response, as -- despite being perfectly accurate -- his summation was several hundred words short of what is required for a review here at the Verdict. Nevertheless, my son was undoubtedly onto something: Gumball is a very funny show. It can't be an easy task writing comedy that is as funny to a three year old as it is to a thirty-three year old, but show creator Benjamin Bocquelet and his team have managed it with apparent ease.
Bringing together twelve episodes from the show's first season, The Amazing World of Gumball: The DVD kicks off with the Season One opener, "The DVD," in which Gumball and Darwin attempt to hide the truth, when they inadvertently destroy a rental copy of Alligators on a Train. The increasingly humorous lengths the two go to -- including a hilarious encounter with a homeless man and an attempt to create their own version of the movie, a la Be Kind Rewind -- shows a remarkable level of assuredness for a first episode. This confidence is felt throughout this entire run of episodes, as the show introduces it's increasingly oddball cast of support characters.
Beyond the Watterson family, the world of Gumball is populated by possibly the strangest menagerie I've ever seen. There's Tina Rex, the school bully who also happens to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex; Banana Joe, a talking banana; Penny Fitzgerald, a peanut with antlers who is the object of Gumball's affections; and Larry Needlemeyer, a man made of cardboard who works at the local DVD rental store and is constantly antagonizing the Wattersons. Such oddities, coupled with the bouts of silliness, could easily have seen Gumball become more irritating than entertaining, but each character has traits which are instantly recognizable, and there's just enough truth to their predicaments that most viewers will find something relatable to draw them in to the madness.
Without ever running the risk of becoming schmaltzy, The Amazing World of Gumball manages to inject a huge amount of heart into each episode. Gumball's unwavering enthusiasm makes him an extremely likable lead character, and viewers will find themselves caring for the little guy despite busting a gut laughing at his frequent misadventures. Episode 6, "The Gi," in which Gumball and Darwin convince their mom to buy them each a karate gi, sees them inadvertently become the school laughing stock with their inept martial arts demonstrations. Seeing the two brothers strut around, whilst the likes of the wiseass Banana Joe mock them mercilessly is as endearing as it is hilarious. Aimed very much at families, it's not uncommon for episodes of The Amazing World of Gumball to contain a moral lesson. However, in something of a twist, such lessons are completely lost on Gumball and his pals -- something I personally took great delight in.
The DVD presentation is first rate, with a sharp clean standard def 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image bursting with colors. Visually The Amazing World of Gumball adopts a mixed media approach that utilizes CGI, claymation, photography, and traditional hand drawn animation. It certainly makes for a lively mix, and is perfectly in keeping with the shows anarchic nature. The Dolby 2.0 Stereo soundtrack delivers clear dialogue and sound effects in what is an unfussy mix.
And now for the bad news: Anyone expecting a semi-decent selection of extras will be disappointed to find the only special feature is "Meet The Wattersons." This doesn't even qualify as a real featurette in truth, and is in fact simply a simple menu screen that allows the viewer to highlight each member of Gumball's family to get a brief piece of text describing him or her. It's pretty poor.
Cartoon Network's The Amazing World of Gumball: The DVD has all the ingredients required to become a huge hit: it's funny, quirky, and extremely likable. The only thing hampering this release is its poor selection of extras, but considering the quality of the show, that's hardly a deal breaker.
Review content copyright © 2012 Paul Pritchard; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Cartoon Network
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 132 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Interactive Text