Do you know what rolls down stairs, alone or in pairs, and over your neighbor’s dog? Do you know who to call when you are out of Powdered Toast? Did Stinky Wizzleteats teach you how to be happy?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you are one of the many fans of The Ren and Stimpy Show. Whether you discovered the show when it first premiered on Nickelodeon in 1991, through reruns, or on DVD, you know the genius of this cartoon show.
At the time of its debut, The Ren and Stimpy Show was one of the few cartoons shows on television that wasn’t a promotion for a toy line. Like the classic cartoons that came before it, the show had jokes for kids but also walked the line of humor to appeal to adults. But the Ren and Stimpy’s stunning style set it apart from every other cartoon show on television. The new documentary Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story tells the story behind this incredible animated creation as well as the rise and demise of John Kricfalusi and the implosion of his team at the Spumco animation studios.
While Kricfalusi created the beloved cat and dog team consisting of a short-tempered Chihuahua and a simple-minded cat, the show would not have come to be without the vision of Nickelodeon executive Vanessa Coffey and the incredibly talented team of animators, writers, and artists that brought the weird, eclectic, and even gross adventures of Ren and Stimpy to television audiences.
Happy Happy Joy Joy is an engrossing documentary that combines interviews with archival photos and clips from the Ren and Stimpy Show to tell this revealing tale of success in the face of cruel genius. Directors Ron Cicero and Kimo Easterwood definitely capture the fun of the early days at Spumco, but also examine Kricfalusi’s cruel and controlling ego that ultimately destroyed his team and creative kingdom. They also don’t shy away from the disturbing allegations that have recently surfaced against creator John Kricfalusi in the wake of the Me Too movement.
Animation industry giants Bob Camp, Vincent Waller, Billy West, Chris Reccardi, Jim Gomez, Vanessa Coffey, Lynne Naylor, Teale Wang, Ed Bell, and others share their stories of being a part of this pop-culture revolution. And while viewers might not expect John Kricfalusi to take part in such a documentary, he does not shy away from taking part in this revealing and engaging documentary about his creation.
Fans of the show will love the telling of this origin story and folks who are not familiar with this incredible series will be driven to seek it out.
Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story has a runtime of 107 minutes is available on VOD and Digital HD.