Jimmy Roberts [Dominic Janes, pictured] lets the world walk all over him in The Cartoon Network's Re-Animated [Friday, 8 p.m./7C]. When an accident necessitates his having a brain transplant, even the cartoon characters created by the legendary Milt Appleday begin to take advantage of his good nature…
Unlike Jimmy Roberts, Milt Appleday [Fred Willard] was a genius with goals. He created some of the world's best-loved carton characters – Golly Gopher [voiced by Paul Reubens], Dolly Gopher [Ellen Greene], Tux the Penguin [Tom Kenny] and Crocco the Alligator [Brian Posehn] – and used them to build Gollyworld, a gigantic theme park. When Milt died, it was rumored that he had his brain frozen and hidden somewhere in Gollyworld.
Jimmy is the normal member of the Roberts family. His father [Bill Dwyer] is a child-like doofus who eats sugary cereal and watches cartons before he goes to work [he's the principal at Jimmy's school!]; Mom [Rachel Quaintance] is an astronaut [we never see her out of her space suit] who adopted Jimmy's sister, Yancy [Rhea lando], a green-skinned alien girl with antennae, on one of her space trips. Yancy, aside from having green skin and antennae, is a normal sixteen-year old girl – she loves music and boys, and is always trying to assert her independence.
Craig [Micha Karns] is, allegedly, Jimmy's best friend, but he's always taking advantage of him – and and persuading him to do favors for members of the cool crowd so that they can be important. Jimmy is crazy about Robin [Eunice Cho], but can barely get an intelligible sentence out around her.
When Jimmy's class takes a field trip to Gollyworld, Craig bets him he can't find Milt Appleday's brain. In attempting to do so, Jimmy is in an accident and – miracle of miracles – has Appleday's brain transplanted into his head! The operation is a success, but there is one huge side effect: Jimmy can now see all of Milt's cartoon creations – and they want his help!
Re-Animated is The Cartoon Network's first live-action movie and a very strange movie it is. Mixed in amongst the slapstick gags [toon and otherwise] are a sweet [but not cloying] teen romance; a quest for supremacy of Appleday Studios – Milt's son, Sonny [Matt Knudsen] wants daddy's brain so he can take over; and even a parable about being one's own person.
One of the film's problems is that it frequently shifts gears a bit too quickly between the slapstick and the dramatic. Another is that Appleday's creations aren't that wonderful. On the plus side, the kids give extremely performances and the adults [for all their obliviousness] really care for their children. Of course, you have to be pretty stupid to buy Sonny as a junior college student looking for a room to rent [but since Dad has been shown to be exactly that dumb, it works].
The special effects and animation are clearly low budget, but they achieve the maximum bang for their bucks – partly because Milt's characters are TV characters, making their limited animation entirely appropriate. Some of the best bits are spins on clich