Review: ‘Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling’ adds a ‘modern’ twist to a classic


Courtesy of Netflix.

Cody Downey

In an era where many old properties are revived years later, “Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling” provides a different take on bringing back old series.

The story follows the titular wallaby Rocko, once again played by Carlos Alazraqui, and his friends as they return from space after being trapped for 20 years. Upon reentry, the group discovers how their world has changed since the 90s. However, the change that shakes Rocko the most is the news that his favorite show, “The Fatheads,” is no longer running on television. Along with that, an error causes the company Conglom-O to go bankrupt dooming the town and leading to the firing of Rocko’s neighbor Ed Bighead, played by Charlie Adler.

However, Rocko comes up with the idea of finding Ralph Bighead, the creator of “The Fatheads” and Ed’s son, and convincing him to make a “Fatheads” special. With this idea, the town will be saved due to the money made from the special and Rocko will get to watch more Fatheads.

As someone who never watched the original cartoon, I must say the humor was very absurd but not off-putting. Many jokes in this special were strange yet somehow managed to get a laugh out of me every time. Without ever seeing the show, I could tell this was the usual sense of humor and nothing out of the ordinary for actual fans.

The animation presented in this special is very unique. Though it is still hand drawn, there were many times that it didn’t show. Compared to many modern shows animated by computers, I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference without looking it up after watching the film. Everything moves fast and fluidly without looking distracting.

The most interesting aspect of the film is the main message of accepting change. When Rocko returns to Earth, he is immediately put off by how different his world has become. While his friends Heffer and Filburt, played by Tom Kenny and Mr. Lawrence respectively, have no trouble adapting to these changes, Rocko is almost dead set on finding some sense of familiarity to his once simple life. Yet, as the film goes on, Rocko learns to accept change for the better.

This is also shown in the character arc given to Ed Bighead. When Rocko and friends finally find Ralph, played by Joe Murray, it is discovered that Ralph is now Rachel. The gang easily accepts this fact without any hesitation. However, Ed Bighead struggles with accepting his now-daughter and is even willing to abandon his job over this change despite what it will make him lose. This arc comes to an end with a genuinely heartwarming conclusion that will surely produce a smile.

However, this message of change does seem a bit odd in its execution outside of the characters. Whenever the idea of a Fatheads reboot is brought up to Conglom-O’s boss Mr. Duplette, also played by Charlie Adler, he brings in the Chameleon Brothers to make it. The end product turns out to be a computer animated version of The Fatheads, which nobody likes. It is only when Rachel makes “The Fatheads” that everyone likes it. This provides a mixed messaging when it comes to change. The actions in the film seem to imply that the changes by the Chameleon Brothers weren’t as good as the changes made by Rachel solely due to them not being the originators of The Fatheads.

Along with that, Rocko doesn’t receive the same kind of character arc as Ed Bighead. Whenever Rocko watches the new “Fatheads” special, he doesn’t like it at all because it is different. This is resolved by Ed telling Rocko that while it is nice to look back fondly at something, change can still be good. In response, Rocko shrugs his shoulders and says okay. This moment feels unearned in contrast to the change Ed went through. Ed accepts change by going through a moment of realization. Rocko, on the other hand, is told to get over it and accept the change. If Rocko had more development in this area, it would seem more natural for him to change his mind.

All in all, “Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling” is a great special that provides both good animation and absurd yet hilarious humor. Though I lacked the knowledge of the source material, I was still able to enjoy the special on its own and get interested in the original series.