Paramount // 2004 // 286 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dennis Prince (Retired) // March 2nd, 2005
Stripper by night. Superhero by later night.
What do you get when you mix a pole dancer with a super-heroine crime fighter? You get a highly-developed crime stopper who's ready to go down on criminals hard, who's ready to blow away any scumbag trying to forcibly penetrate the American justice system, and who's stacked with the most impressive arsenal of titillating utilities you're likely to ever come across. It's Stripperella, and she's busting out to take a bite out of crime.
Meet stripper Erotica Jones (voiced by Pamela Anderson), a well-equipped exotic dancer who's the big attraction at L.A.'s Tender Loins strip club. Though she appears to be quite innocent by nature, there's something mysterious about this honey pot, especially when her belly-button ring begins to flash and vibrate. Unknown to her peers and paying customers, Erotica has just been summoned by Chief Stroganoff to report for duty. In a flash, she becomes a leather-clad, masked maven -- Agent 0069 -- Stripperella! When the factions of crime and corruption descend upon the city, Stripperella bounces into action, rendering all plunderers impotent in their evil designs and leaving all foul-doers flaccid in their unsavory schemes. But it's no easy task as our shapely super-heroine must thwart all manner of fearsome females and their cunning stunts, not to mention every would-be dick-tator with delusions of erecting himself to sinister supremacy.
Follow along as Stripperella's animated adventures are presented in bold, broad breast...er...brush strokes that make it difficult to steady your quill and stay within the lines.
When the old TNN cable channel (that was "The Nashville Network") saw its ratings continue to sag, it sought a complete overhaul. With "reinvention" being the buzzword of the day, the struggling hee-haw homestead jettisoned its collective of chord-twangers and wife-bangers and elected to redefine itself as "The New TNN -- The First Network for Men." Likely taking note of the rampant success of the testosterone-fueled, grab-ass goofiness of Comedy Central's The Man Show, TNN followed suit and began preparing a new lineup of entertainment aimed squarely and unapologetically at the beer-drinking, butt-scratching, Y-chromosome contingent. Although the more ballsy network was hopeful to make a splash into American dens and rumpus rooms in late 2002, it wasn't until June of 2003 that it finally unveiled its new look -- Spike TV, despite a needless legal action by New York Knicks groupie, Spike Lee -- and ushered in a new show list that encompassed everything from wrestling shows to auto shows to 007 film festivals to whacked-out game/stunt shows to an assemblage of animated escapades collectively referred to as "The Strip." Naturally, Stripperella was just the sort of show to headline such a rogue's gallery of cell-animated sleaze and sex that would have men of all ages rising to take notice.
Stripperella was the result of discussions between comic-book legend Stan Lee (The Amazing Spider-Man) and nude-model-turned-near-nude-actress Pamela Anderson (Baywatch). By his own account, Lee mentioned he wanted to create a female superhero who wasn't so super but had a super body; he immediately thought of Anderson. With tongue firmly in cheek (his own tongue, not Anderson's), Lee proceeded to develop Stripperella, a sort of over-sexed Jane Bond who was secretly employed by F.U.G.G., a clandestine crime-fighting agency headed by Chief Stroganoff. Stripperella would receive her ambiguous orders to stop whichever slimy villain (or villainess) was presently on the prowl, then she'd be outfitted with an array of sometimes-naughty anti-personnel devices conjured up by the nerdy and perpetually horny team of Hal and Bernard, usually peeking up her leather skirt while trying to convince our heroine that they need to make plaster impressions of her nipples.
For Lee, his original instinct was to unleash Stripperella as an animated series, first and foremost. Later, the buxom crime beater would appear in the traditional comic format in a one-shot offering by Humanoids Publishing, subsequent issues being nixed from the outset, reportedly due to disagreements between TNN/Spike execs and Pamela Anderson. But the show went forward and premiered on June 26, 2003, beginning with the "Beauty and the Obese" episode, in which none other than Mark Hamill (Corvette Summer) lends his vocal chords as the wicked Dr. Cesarian, an evil plastic surgeon with a plot to kill all supermodels via exploding breast implants. Unfortunately, this wasn't the best episode to start with, but those viewers who came back the following week were treated to a better outing: "Crime Doesn't Pay...Seriously, It Really Doesn't," in which Stripperella is pitted against the diabolically cut-rate villain, Cheapo (voiced by John Lovitz), who, when not knocking off 89-cent stores and forcing his henchmen to share a stick-up weapon, has set his sights on stealing the world's largest cubic zirconium, valued at nearly $300. Viewers clearly understood this was being played as a hoot, and, by and large, it worked. There are plenty of sight gags going on in each episode, and you'll need to listen closely to catch all the quick dialogue:
Cheapo: You two henchmen are gonna stand guard at the North, South, East,
and West entrances of the museum. At the same time, you must overtake the
security guards, disengage the alarm system, and disable the security cameras.
Now there's only one thing that can get in our way.
Cheapo: No. Stripperella!
Along the way, there are plenty of bodacious beauties to ogle at, the same sort that most men doodled during puberty, not really sure at the time just what to do with such impossibly-imagined "playthings." Lee and the production staff take the notebook-paper nudies several steps further still by also offering non-stop peeks up dresses, at flexing crotches, at perky patooties, and so much more. Most guys, sitting by, sucking down a beer, are likely to feel a sudden nostalgic pang that will remind them of those daring daydreams back when the first pubes started sprouting and when strolling up to the front of the class could trigger a sudden panic attack due to unplanned and uncontrollable uprisings.
OK. Lots of butts and boobies to look at here, but is it any good? Surprisingly to me, I have to say "yes." During that summer of 2003, I routinely scoffed at Spike TV promos for Stripperella and The Joe Schmo Show (which I also unexpectedly enjoyed upon release to DVD); I was just biding my time in hot anticipation of the next episode of Most Extreme Elimination Challenge. So Stripperella came and went without me but, now, able to enjoy it at my leisure, I've discovered a very humorous and very well-produced T&A 'toon. Animation fans are certain to recognize and applaud the presence of Kevin Altieri (Batman: The Animated Series) working his magic to give this potentially stripped-down pen-and-ink peep show a slick and stylish look. Rendered entirely in 2D and 3D CGI elements, the final show has a classy top-end quality that makes it all the easier on the eyes.
The last potential bone of contention is the discussion over the effectiveness of the characters themselves. Again, while not the most jaw-dropping achievement you're likely to encounter, the vocalizations are managed much better than I would have expected. Pamela Anderson surprised me by delivering an unexpectedly competent mouth job...er...vocalization. I listened closely to see if she was holding back, perhaps unable to cut loose and truly throw herself into the ethereal character. Nicely enough, she seems to have figured out how to bring an animated character to life, and I would contend that this rivals her previous work in Baywatch. (But, then, who was really listening to anything she was saying, right?) The other characters are appropriately energetic and over the top. Tom Kenny is perfect in his short bits as the imposing-but-enigmatic Chief Stroganoff. Sirena Irwin as Persephone Chiche, another stripper who works alongside Erotica at the Tender Loins, is excellent as she purposely wavers and alters the foreign character's accent for fun effect. And then there are the guest spots, which include not only Hamill and Lovitz but also enlist the talents of Vince McMahon, Andy Dick, Kid Rock, and even Stan Lee himself. Everyone involved recognizes this is all for fun, and it really works.
In this new two-disc set from Paramount under the Spike TV DVD imprint, we get all 13 episodes of the show's first (and now seemingly only) season. Each episode, while noted as being presented in full-frame format, is actually matted to roughly 1.78:1. The transfers look quite good, yet I was disappointed to see the usual edge enhancement that's all too often allowed to afflict animated features. Still, the color looks great and the source material is practically spotless. The audio is offered in a Dolby Digital mix that preserves the original 2.0 stereo soundtracks. Speaking of the soundtracks, however, it seems some post-airing shuffling has taken place, since, when originally aired, the show's title sequence featured a song by Anderson's former beau, Kid Rock; these episodes feature a guitar riff with some female vocalists wailing the Stripperella name. Funny what jilted lovers will do when it comes to rights issues. Sadly, there are no extras on this set (commentaries with Lee, Anderson, and Altieri seem obligatory here), and so the overall judgment of this set suffers needlessly as a result.
As for the episodes, here's what you'll find inside:
* "Crime Doesn't Pay...Seriously, It Really Doesn't"
* "Everybody Loves Pushy"
* "The Wrath of Klinko"
* "You Only Lick Twice"
* "Beauty and the Obese Pt. 1"
* "Beauty and the Obese Pt. 2"
* "The Bridesmaid"
* "Evil Things Come In Small Packages"
* "Eruption Junction...What's Your Function?"
* "The Evil Magicians"
* "Cheapo by the Dozen or Stop Making Cents"
* "The Return of the Queen"
* "The Curse of the Werebeaver"
But -- wait! -- this is supposedly "uncensored," right? Well, it is. My research has revealed that during the original broadcasts, all bare boobies were dutifully pixilated to obscure any on-screen areolas. Here you'll get to see every babe's big brown eyes, and it's clearly reminiscent of all those big'uns that were bouncing around in 1982's Heavy Metal. No complaints here.
If you're offended by all the objectifying sex on display here and the non-stop innuendos and double-entendres at work, why would you even bother with a show called Stripperella? Oh, and just because it's animated doesn't mean this one is safe for the kids (not even the early teens, in my opinion). It's adult entertainment aimed squarely at the male gene that guffaws on cue at such sophomoric hijinks. Know that going in and you'll have a better time in the end.
I liked it, and I was surprised by that. I have to applaud Spike TV for this one, although I only wish they had been able to keep the show together, as it was clearly evolving through this short 13-episode run. Who knows -- perhaps this DVD release will stir up a new appreciation and widen the show's audience. Anything's possible, especially in the world of Stripperella.
So long as Spike TV ensures that all IDs will be checked prior to serving anyone, this court can't find anything wrong with enjoying a bit of made-for-men entertainment. Case dismissed. Is there still beer left in the 'fridge?
Review content copyright © 2005 Dennis Prince; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 286 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Spike TV Promos