Nickelodeon // 2010 // 145 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ike Oden (Retired) // September 11th, 2010
"...But she slapped me with powdered nuts."
You've probably heard of iCarly by now. The Nickelodeon sitcom has become something of a pop culture phenomenon since first airing in 2007. The show follows the exploits of Carly Shay (Miranda Cosgrove, Despicable Me), a wealthy albeit average Seattle teenager/host of the fictitious viral web show iCarly. The fictitious internet fodder can only be described as a kid's variety show co-hosted by Carly's overaggressive, meat obsessed best friend Sam (Jeanette McCurdy, Minor Details) and directed by the geeky, button-down Freddie (Nathan Kress, Gym Teacher: The Movie). Along for the ride is Carly's older brother Spencer (Jeffry Trainor, Crossing Jordan), a wacky twenty-something artist and law school drop-out that acts as Carly's guardian while their parents are conspicuously absent (or something like that). Together, they all get into crazy misadventures while maintaining iCarly and the notoriety that comes with it iCarly: iSpace Out packages together the titular TV special and five extra episodes of the popular series.
If you're reading this and you happen to be over the age of 18, let me start by saying this show isn't for you. It will never be for you. iCarly isn't dazzling all-ages entertainment in the vein of Pixar, or (God help me) Dreamworks films. It's a Nickelodeon sitcom in the vein of Drake and Josh, Kennan and Kel, or, for us old timers, Hey Dude!.
To the adult eye, the show can be construed as crude, obnoxious, lame, and more than a little mean-spirited. To anyone ages 6 to 17 (yes, I know college freshmen who watch the show), it's twenty-two minutes of innocuous, hi-larious antics. In order to give the show an even shake, I've constructed an experiment utilizing the keen observation of my stepson, who for the sake of anonymity we'll call Luigi. Why Luigi? Pixel Verdict fans can take a stab at guessing his other obsession (and no, it isn't his Italian lineage).
Luigi is a massive iCarly fan, much to constant chagrin of his mother and myself. He was seemingly brought into the world a SpongeBob Squarepants aficionado, a label and encyclopedic knowledge he continues to cultivate with great amounts of 8-year-old pride. However, in the past three years, iCarly has overtaken said nautical nonsense, ascending the mantle of his favorite ongoing show on television.
Luigi wanted iCarly: iSpace Out. I wanted to make Luigi happy. Everyone gets everything he wants. I requested the assignment, and for my sins Chief Justice Michael Stailey gave me one -- sent it to my mailbox like it was room service. It was a real choice Nickelodeon DVD, and when it was over, I never wanted another one. Of course, Luigi still did, but that's beside the point.
To make the harrowing experiment fair, I've decided to gauge the number of times Luigi laughed per each episode to counterbalance whatever pointless criticisms I highlight in my capsule reviews.
* "iSpace Out"
The headlining special goes over pretty lukewarm for everyone involved. Carly, Sam, and Freddie are offered the chance to host the first web show in space if they can prove they have the right stuff to qualify. The premise of the gang overcoming "Space Madness" fizzles out pretty quick, mostly because none of the principal cast has any comedic timing. Admittedly, none of the jokes are super gold, but you'd think a girl smuggling a brisket into a space testing chamber would garner at least a chuckle.
Luigi was more caught up in the "B" story, wherein Spencer finds a little girl he may or may not be imagining torments him around the apartment. Unlike the rest of the cast, Jeffry Trainer has a knack for hitting comedic beats seamlessly. His Spencer is played like the test tube child of Jim Carry, Jack Black, and Will Ferrell, but without the effortless traits that make those comedic performers so memorable. That said, it's perfect for Luigi, who is only passingly familiar with the derivative nature of his performance. How I envy his innocence.
Luigi Laughs: 7
* "iWas A Pageant Girl"
Racking up over twice the funny of the former, this episode finds Sam revisiting her torrid past as a pageant girl, seeking revenge against a rival in the Miss Teen Seattle Pageant, and taking Carly along for the ride. The story is amusing enough, finding the bullying Sam targeting her arch nemesis, who happens to be nicer than any of the show's protagonists. The ironic reversal is clever, but the attempt to satirize beauty pageants by making the underdog unsympathetic (shades of Seinfeld) never goes far enough. Once again, a subplot involving Spencer, this time paired with Freddie on a blind date, swipes 90% of the Luigi laughs.
Luigi Laughs: 15
* "iEnrage Gibby"
Bringing the house down, this episode finds the gang's portly friend Gibby (Noah Munck, Rules of Engagement) falling under the false impression Freddie is "macking" on his girlfriend, causing Sam to parlay conflict into an iCarly fight night. Munck steals the show as Gibby, showing a genuinely unique comic persona as an unlikely ladies man. Little Luigi laughed at, well, pretty much everything he said or did, overshadowing the potential comedic gold of a subplot where Spencer is falsely proclaimed dead. The theme of trust, specifically trust of one's self, is punctuated perfectly by a complex story structure where...no, wait, sorry, those are my notes for Inception. This has poop jokes.
Luigi Laughs: 43
* "iFix A Pop Star"
The Gang finds the opportunity of a lifetime to revive the lagging career of a fading pop star by directing the prima donna's song and dance sequence in a VMA-style award show. Meanwhile, Spencer accidentally starts dating Gibby's Mom. You can tell where most of the laughs are going. While the one-two-punch of the show's strongest comic persona's doesn't quite reach the heights of hilarity it should, it trumps a stale satire of pop stars misbehaving (Britney Spears and Paris Hilton nods abound). On the other hand, the storyline does expose the hackiness of contemporary pop idol worship, so I'm going easy on this one.
Luigi Laughs: 35
* "iWon't Cancel The Show"
Carly finds out her Dad, stationed on a submarine off the coast of Mexico, can finally watch the show for the first time (just go with it). When Sam's arrested the night before the big air date (again, just go with it), Carly must rely on Spencer to fill the void...when Spencer already scheduled a big date at the same time! You can see where this is going, and it plays to the classic sitcom formula with great success, juxtaposing Spencer's false sense of adulthood with his immature shenanigans on the show. Trainer manages to distinguish his schtick in the process, showing more comedic chops than on any of the other episodes presented. Still, a lack of Gibby means it doesn't have quite the same appeal for Luigi.
Luigi Laughs: 35
* "iBelieve in Bigfoot"
Carly and the gang take an RV into a nearby national park to discover the truth about the Bigfoot sightings going on there. The plot is thin even for the show's standards, and taking the characters out of their natural environment (Carly's apartment/web studio) removes most of the show's identity. Coupled with a gimmicky Scooby Doo storyline (it's weird when something like Bigfoot feels forced on a Nick sitcom) iBelieve in Bigfoot had more of a bewildering effect on Luigi than anything else. It doesn't help we were on hour two of the iCarly marathon, but that doesn't quite explain the lack of funny at hand. Plus, its not like I'm going to give the kid the DVD without making him work for it.
Luigi Laughs: 8
Overall, the DVD proves to be an uneven set of episodes. Nickelodeon has a bad habit of cashing in their shows based on 'special episodes', as evidenced by the countless SpongeBob Squarepants DVDs released into stores every month or so. If you're a thrifty parent, you might want to check out the season sets. If your kids can't wait, give it a rent if you haven't already DVRed the episodes. If not, it's a cheap DVD (around $13 on Amazon), and Luigi seems to think it's a deal.
As far as technical specs, the video looks about on par with your usual television sitcom. The audio is a clear and balanced Dolby Digital surround mix. Special features are slim -- "iSpace Out Trivia" is a Pop-Up Video style trivia track that could potentially appeal to older iCarly fans. A bonus episode of the Nick sitcom Victorius is included, but Luigi refused to watch it because, well, he said it's horrible. When an 8-year-old who just sat through two-and-a-half hours of iCarly he's already seen "a thousand times" and calls a similar sitcom "horrible," I say take his word for it.
Man, my kid loves it. I speak for the hundreds of parents who suffer for their children' s happiness when I decree: Not guilty.
Review content copyright © 2010 Ike Oden; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (CC)
Running Time: 145 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Trivia Track
* Bonus Episode
* Official Site