Judge Clark Douglas hopes this film isn't an indicator of the music we'll be hearing in the future.
In the future, rock 'n roll will never die—especially not on Judy Jetson's watch!
Those unfamiliar with the history of The Jetsons may be surprised to discover that there was a gap of more than twenty years between the initial run of episodes (which originally aired in 1962-1963) and the later installments of the series (which aired between 1985-1987). While the newer episodes still retained the basic future-retro look of the original series, certain elements of the '80s crept into the proceedings in an attempt to make the series relevant to modern audiences. Though it's otherwise a fairly forgettable endeavor, the 1988 made-for-television flick Rockin' with Judy Jetson highlights this futuristic fusion of the '80s and the '60s in rather striking fashion.
Rockin' with Judy Jetson was actually created as part of Hanna-Barbera Superstars 10, a series of ten feature-length animated movies featuring classic Hanna-Barbera characters. This is the series that gave us such disposable fare as Yogi Bear and the Magical Flight of the Spruce Goose, Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf, and The Good, The Bad and The Huckleberry Hound, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that Rockin' with Judy Jetson is a disappointment.
The plot is a bit more convoluted than you might expect: evil space witch Felonia Funk has an elaborate plan that involves finding a magical crystal and ridding the world of music (surely the most diabolical plan any witch has ever devised). Meanwhile, teenager Judy Jetson becomes famous when she persuades popular heartthrob Sky Rocker to sing a tune she wrote (because, y'know, when an artist has a hit everyone immediately gets to work on turning the no-name songwriter into a celebrity). There's only one problem: Judy didn't actually write the song! Judy's tune was a pretty conventional number entitled "Rockin' Around the Galaxy," while Sky Rocker actually delivered an oddball tune entitled "Gleep Gorp."
As you might expect, the two plot strands eventually combine in rather unremarkable fashion. While the other Jetson characters turn up at assorted points (Ellroy gets his own noir-themed subplot of sorts), this is most assuredly Judy's film. While it's nice to spend so much time with Judy (generally the most-ignored member of the Jetson clan), the story itself is a clunky, overlong affair that runs out of steam long before it reaches the finish line. If the flick has a saving grace, it's the occasional bits of witty commentary on the absurd speed of the news media cycle ("Just finished reading this new magazine article about you, Judy—can't wait to read the next issue. It comes out in 30 minutes!") and the absurdities of celebrity life. It's hardly groundbreaking stuff, but there are enough smile-inducing moments (we see a bit of a foreign film directed by "Federico Martianellini") to keep the flick from becoming too tedious.
The oddball '80s/'60s clash is certainly odd to behold (George Jetson even sports a bright red mohawk at one point!), and that juxtaposition is particularly evident in the musical numbers. Melodically, the tunes sound like old-fashioned doo-wop songs, but the instrumentation (lots of synthesizers and drum machines) is pure '80s cheese. I wish I could report the the musical interludes add some fun to the proceedings, but the songs are worst-of-both-worlds messes that are repeated entirely too often over the course of 92 minutes (I'm embarrassed to say that I pretty much know "Gleep Gorp" by heart at this point).
Rockin' with Judy Jetson arrives on DVD sporting an underwhelming DVD transfer. While colors are bright and vibrant, there are quite a few scratches and flecks present throughout. Additionally, the picture is quite soft on occasion and there's some prominent color bleeding on a regular basis. Audio is okay, though the musical numbers sound disappointingly pinched. Dialogue is mostly clean enough, though it has to compete with the frantic score a bit more than it ought to. The disc is as bare bones as they come—no extras, no language options, no subtitles. All you get is a menu with a "play movie" button.
While Jetsons buffs will undoubtedly be grateful for the chance to own this flick on DVD, casual viewers looking for something to entertain the kiddies would be better off sticking with the tighter writing offered by the actual series.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
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