Gumby: The Movie
Stop motion animation is something I have a lot of appreciation for. I thinks it’s because it’s the most life-like animation I’ve seen. Ever since I was a child I felt like that I could touch these characters and they could come to life. There have been many things that have implemented this style of creativity such as the original King Kong, any of the Harryhausen films like Clash of the Titans and Jason and the Argonauts, and of course, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and the recent Frankenweenie. Being that this kind of animation is so expensive and time consuming to work with, I feel bad when all that hard work doesn’t come out that good.
One of these results is the famous cartoon Gumby. Debuting in 1955, Gumby has enjoyed a long run on the Saturday morning spot and still runs in syndication. I remember watching some of the show early in the morning on Nickelodeon when I was in first grade. Though It was a decent time-killer back then, I just don’t understand the hype. I can see a lot of creativity when in to the design, but it has dated very badly. Most of the content just comes off as cheap and safe. So who thought that this would work in a film adaptation?
The original creator Art Clokey returned to the little green guy with Gumby: The Movie. Unlike Made in 1995, I expected this to be retooled for a modern audience. Instead what I got was a blast from the past; a blast that brought back exactly the same from before.
Still in this little book world, Gumby (voiced by the late Charles Farrington) is hanging out with his teenage band as they jam while his pal Pokey (played by Art Clokey) feels left out. As Gumby does the same shtick as before, the blockheads are up to no good.
The Blockheads E-Z Loan company is threatening to close a bunch of the farms in Gumby’s neighborhood. So Gumby decides to host a benefit concert to raise the money to prevent the departure of his friends. As they practice, they discover that their dog will shed tears that come out as pearls (no explanation), but only when the band is playing live. The Blockheads discover this and devise a plan to replace the dog and the rest of the group with robot clones. To prevent the robots from takeover, Gumby, Pokey, Prickle, and Goo go on a journey to stop the Blockheads.
This movie feels like a relic from the past. What surprises me about Gumby the Movie is that very little is done to modernize anything. I would have bought that this was made in the fifties or sixties, but the nineties? This came out just two years after the groundbreaking Nightmare Before Christmas. I don’t know if the movie was made for the fans, but the same kind of safe jokes are told and even the animation is not that impressive. This was done as an independent film, but that only left my expectations higher as I thought that the creators would really do something crazy with Gumby.
I’ll give this two flattened Gumby figures out of five. The only thing that rocks is the music. The music was composed by for Jefferson Starship guitarist Craig Chaquico. Many of the rock solos stand out better then the surprisingly flat characters.