At 25: Jetsons: The Movie

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July 6, 2015 by billysparrow


Jetsons: The Movie

Released: July 6, 1990

Starring: George O’Hanlon, Penny Singleton, Tiffany, Patric Zimmerman, Don Messick, Jean Vander Pyl, and Mel Blanc

There are many things that keep me up at night. Most of them I don’t feel entirely comfortable sharing with you and/or they’d be a real bummer to read about. But I do feel okay sharing one nagging question that ricochets around my head, and I don’t think it’ll be all that much of a bummer to examine.

Do kids know who the Jetsons are?

The Flintstones–the other main Hanna-Barbera family–aren’t around much anymore, but chewable vitamins and Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles make me think that kids might at least have a vague idea of who they are. But they couldn’t possibly know who the Jetsons are. They’re not on TV, not on supermarket shelves, and nowhere in pop culture. How did we let this happen?

For me, “The Jetsons” was the greatest of the cartoons I watched as a kid, probably because they were on for an hour right before school started. Every morning, I would eat my cereal, wait for that fantastic theme song, and watch “The Jetsons.” They were way better than “The Flintstones” (though the Jetsons/Flintstones TV movie was met with great joy in my 10-year-old heart), mainly because they had way cooler things, like Rosie the robot maid, flying cars, and the Food-a-Rac-a-Cycle. The Flintstones had the Great Gazoo, a car you needed to move with your feet, and an elephant vacuum cleaner. Anyone who thinks the Flintstones are better than the Jetsons is an imbecile.

As someone who is almost certainly not an imbecile, I was a full-blown Jetsons kid, wearing an Astro T-shirt (well, I think that was in my teens) and listening to the 12-inch single of “The Jetsons Theme/Jane, Get Me Off This Crazy Thing,”  while my stuffed Elroy Jetson sat on the shelf. I even willingly watched the difficult Orbitty years, never abandoning my Jetsons fandom.

And so, in the summer of 1990, when “Jetsons: The Movie” was released, I’m pretty sure I was right there opening weekend. I say “pretty sure,” because (a) being that excited to see it at the age of 13 is slightly troubling and (b) having rewatched the movie, nothing about it seems familiar. I have a slightly hazy memory of seeing it at the Fairview Cinema in Hudson, NY, and I do own a videotape of it, so the odds are pretty good that I’ve at least seen it, probably multiple times.

So it might just be that I’ve blocked it from my memory, because this movie stinks. It might be why the Jetsons aren’t in kids’ lives today.

Granted, you should be more concerned if, as a 38-year-old man, I hit you with “This movie is AMAZING!!!!!!!” and then spent 1,000 words trying to convince you of such a declaration. But, considering I’m the type of guy (oh-wee-oh-ohhhhh-oh) who will legitimately defend many of the “Police Academy” movies at this stage of my life, such a declaration wouldn’t really catch you off guard (though I am concerned about you guarding me; you should make better use of your time).

So you must trust me when I tell you that this is awful. And one of the main reasons it stinks can be summed up in one word: music. For there is music in this movie, far too much of it, and none of it as good as Jet Screamer’s “Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah.” This is mainly because in this movie Judy Jetson is voiced not by Janet Waldo, the original voice of Judy, who was very much alive at the time the movie was made (and is still, in fact alive), but by Tiffany. Furthermore, it has been said that Waldo recorded Judy’s voice for the movie but was ousted when Tiffany (who had recorded three songs for the soundtrack) and/or her people insisted that she be the voice of Judy. Now, I have seen Tiffany perform twice, and I sometimes think “Could’ve Been” is a good song, so  you can trust me when I say that I had no prior animosity toward her. But reading that she ousted the original Judy has me so, as Willie Aames once put it, in the flesh.

This interview doesn’t help.

And her songs bring the movie to a screeching halt too. Because aside from the aforementioned Jet Screamer, music and the Jetsons don’t mix. They’re not bad songs, but who’s looking for this in a Jetsons movie?

Or this, which is truly the worst. I literally said, “What is this shit?” out loud as I was watching it (side note: I almost started watching the movie on my phone on a bus, so let’s be grateful that a poor Wi-Fi connection stopped that from happening).

But at least Tiffany had nothing to do with the cringeworthy thing known as “The Jetsons Rap” (XXL is to blame for this one).

Another strike against the movie is the new voice of Elroy, provided by Patric Zimmerman. He just doesn’t sound right. But at least he didn’t push anyone out to get the gig. Daws Butler, who originally voiced Elroy (among many others), passed away before the movie was made (George O’Hanlon, who provided George Jetson’s voice, and Mel Blanc, the voice of Mr. Spacely, died while the movie was in production; the movie is dedicated to them).

Also, there is no Food-a-Rac-a-Cycle in the movie. I don’t understand that decision.

There are precious few clips from the movie on YouTube, probably because not one scene is actually interesting, so I suppose I’ll have to use my words the rest of the way. But I can’t even muster up the energy for that. It’s just a really dull movie. There’s a vaguely interesting message about the environment and respecting indigenous peoples (or, in this case, indigenous furry creatures), but it’s a little clunky and obvious.

I’m starting to feel like a heel for critiquing a 25-year-old movie made for children, so I think it’s time to fire up the flying car and get out of here. There is word that a new Jetsons movie is in the works, so maybe there’s hope that the kids will have the Jetsons in their lives soon. But, until then, please keep them away from this one. They’ll think I’m crazy for liking the Jetsons so much. Please let them think I’m crazy for any of the other million possible reasons.


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