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Jetsons - The Movie

Kino // G // February 16, 2021
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ryan Keefer | posted March 25, 2021 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

In the midst of the nostalgia of resurrecting old television shows, while I remember The Jetsons (and even talked about it here for a bit), I really don't remember much about the motion picture revival of same. I mean, I know the lyrics or most of the bars of the show's song as I do The Simpsons, but knowing that there was a film in 1990 about the show, when I had long outgrown the demographic for it, it's a disarming thing.

For those who haven't seen the show, it is set a century into the future, where things like rocket cars, robot maids, and pneumatic tubes that could send you virtually anywhere were commonplace (Note: Halfway down and no sight of these things around. Come on, inventors!). The show's well-known introductory theme song is almost iconic at this point: George Jetson is head of a household that is a family of four. George may bring home the bacon, but his wife Jane fries it up in the pan. They have two children, the high school aged Judy and the youngster Elroy. Combined with Rosie the electronic maid and the family dog Astro, the family Jetson gets involved in hijinks of one sort or another over the course of the show. Adding in some supplementary characters like George's boss Mr. Spacely, you have got yourself a formula for an animated sitcom that is pretty easy to maintain.

The film had to juggle of a couple of things during the movie, the biggest being time; the death of legendary voice actor Mel Blanc (Mr. Spacely) during recording and George O'Hanlon (George) after same forced the production to look for a replacement, settling on Jeff Bergman. Daws Butler was Elroy and he died before production, with Patric Zimmerman replacing Butler. Janet Waldo's Jane was replaced by then-pop sensation Tiffany, with the film attempting to serve as a starring vehicle of some sort, with the results failing badly. The film was trying to capture some of the success of the musician in the hopes of a crossover role, but never really caught hold, largely because at least in this, it was forced down everyone's throats, and it wasn't fun.

When the film wasn't circling back to Tiffany's songs, the story was like most animated television shows that were attempting to do motion pictures; It is a solid second-tier story, with George having to do something with Spacely Sprockets away from their home, and his failures potentially show the family that they could never return. Something that George has probably seen before in some manner or fashion, but on a longer, drawn out scale.

The tragic thing about The Jetsons is that while it is aware of its pathos and what makes it great, it also has a degree of greed to want to grab onto longer lasting success. So it betrays the things that made it such a fun show to everyone. Trying to make Jane/Tiffany into a star did the franchise no favors, and the movie's reception sealed its fate.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

Given the nature of The Jetsons and being an animated show from the early 1960s, there was a sense to retain that look in the 1990 film, which seemed to show through here; there is film grain in the image, and the colors are reproduced nicely, or as much as they could be for that time. OK, but nothing special.

The Sound:

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless does not really blow your doors off, nor was I expecting it to given the source material. But the surround involvement even for something like this is minimal and disappointing, and the low end is nice and serviceable. All in all it is an unspectacular soundtrack.

The Extras:

Film historian Lee Gambin gets involved with a commentary where he talks about the meanings of characters in the film, and the larger history of Hanna Barbera, while getting into the whereabouts of the cast at the time of filming. The differences between the movie and show are recounting, along with the casting choices. It is loaded with information and is a solid complement to the movie. Bergman has an interview with someone who sounds like Gambin (54:13) where the pair talk about Bergman's origin story, how he came to the film and his work with Blanc and others in it. The trailer (1:27) rounds things out.

Final Thoughts:

The movie incarnation of The Jetsons proves to be forgettable on its merits and in a weird way the Blu-ray tends to replicate the wholly average nature of the production. Technically the disc is fine but not amazing, though the extras are another nice indication of the work Kino puts into these things. So if you're a fan of the film, you'll like this, but if you know how the song goes, I would have some pause before diving in.

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