Hanna-Barbera (1988), Warner Archive (August 9, 2011), 1 DVD-R, 92 mins, 4:3 ratio, Dolby Digital mono, Rated G, Retail: $19.95
Space Age teen Judy Jetson becomes embroiled in a plot to rid the galaxy of music, just as she improperly receives credit for a new hit song. The new “song” was really a coded message from the maniacal Felonia Funk, whose hatred of music drives her mad plot.
The Sweatbox Review:
Warner Archive has just completed putting out the fabled Hanna-Barbera Superstars 10 syndicated movies from the 1980s. The three Scooby Doo ones previously came to retail, and the three Yogi Bear movies were previously released by Warner Archive at the time of the theatrical Yogi movie coming out. With The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones out from Warner Archive not long ago, this only left films for Top Cat, Huckleberry Hound, and another Jetsons movie to be released on DVD. Of those last three, I’d have to say that Rockin’ With Judy Jetson was the one I least looked forward to. It just seemed so… girly, y’know? And that’s perfectly fine. I’m just not a little girl, and hence not part of the target audience… assumedly.
Nevertheless, we DVD reviewers sometimes have to tackle subjects that are not of keen interest. I thought I was going to get one of the two Jonny Quest films concurrently released, which would have been great, but such is life. So, I instead settled in to watch Rockin’ With Judy Jetson, and was pleasantly surprised. In fact, it reminded me far more of The Man Called Flintstone than a cute “girlie” cartoon, which in my book is a good thing.
The movie owes much to the early Jetsons episode A Date With Jet Screamer. Once again, we are given the premise that teenage Judy is an aspiring songwriter with a crush on a teen idol. This time, though, the cast expands to include two of her friends, with whom Judy has a rock band. The three of them, especially Judy, are somewhat infatuated by a performer named Sky Rocker, and Judy has prepared a song that she hopes to present to him. When Sky announces a surprise concert, Judy and her friends hasten to get to the venue as quickly as possible. They perform the song in front of him, and Sky is sufficiently impressed to agree to perform the song later at his concert. However, after receiving the lyrics from Judy, he has a run-in with two henchmen of Felonia Funk, and the lyrics get accidentally switched with a secret message meant for someone else.
Felonia Funk is a nasty piece of work, a woman who despises music so much that she wishes to rid the galaxy of it. (She even goes snaky at the mere mention of the word “music,” and needs a bucket of water thrown at her to calm her down again.) Felonia’s plan requires her to acquire a rare mineral, and the coded message contained clues as to the material’s whereabouts. Sky Rocker now has that message, and he totally becomes enamored with the nonsensical “lyrics.” He proceeds to perform the “song” at his concert (again, similar to the events in A Date With Jet Screamer, where a Elroy’s playful coded message got exchanged with Judy’s lyrics intended for a song contest). Judy is mortified that her real lyrics were not used, but she becomes a celebrity anyway when the nonsense song Gleep Glorp becomes a sensation. Judy isn’t comfortable with any of it, and she is quite peeved with Jet, but her friends insist she rides the celebrity wave while she can.
Meanwhile, Felonia Funk is naturally quite upset that her secret message has become a song hit, and she is no closer to discovering the rare mineral that she needs. This forces her to kidnap Jet Screamer, while at the same time Judy’s father George is looking for both of them, thinking that Judy has run off with the rock star. The youngest Jetson, Elroy, is also out of the house, having snuck off to see the concert with his dog Astro, and they too get swept up in the whole mess. Also involved are the music-loving Zoomies, who assist Judy in escaping from Felonia at the same time they are protecting the rare mineral, which is located on their planet of Zooma Zooma. The explanations for how all the plot elements come together don’t make total sense, but you just go with it. It’s all in good fun, right? Oh, and I almost forgot— two of the girls’ classmates, Nicky and Ramm, are also part of the whole chase. Suffice it to say that there’s a lot to keep track of.
And then there’s Rhoda Starlet, an entertainment reporter who provides ongoing commentary and interacts with the various characters throughout the movie. The portrayal of instant celebrity and the fickleness (and shallowness) of the press, was practically cutting edge for the time, and strangely relevant for today— a full quarter century later. The comments on the media are probably the most interesting aspect of the film, actually.
The whole thing, though, is actually pretty entertaining. The script juggles a whole lot of balls at once, but mostly the writers pull it off. There are a couple of leaps in logic in there, occasionally a change in status quo happens a little too fast, and there are maybe one or two coincidences that are hard to overlook, but taken at the “kids cartoon” level it works well enough. I was pleased with the whole notion of this being a kind of Hitchcockian take on the Jetsons (in terms of plot, not quality, of course), which allowed me to easily get through the dreaded musical sequences, which were also decent enough.
So, if you’re hesitant to get this one in order to complete your “Hanna-Barbera Superstars 10” collection, proceed with the knowledge that it’s better than you think, and actually pretty fun.
Is This Thing Loaded?
No extras are included in this release.
This comes in standard black keepcase (well, one with a recycling emblem on the inside, though it’s not a cut-out), with no insert. The cover design is a little simple, but it works for me. However, it could have used a bigger hint as to the actual tone of the movie, as the front image really just promotes the “girlier” aspects.
Ink And Paint:
The unrestored video is a little dodgy, but not enough to hamper one’s enjoyment too much. There is a “video noise” look to the transfer, though it does look suitably colourful even if it is soft. The biggest issue is skin tones, where the lack of color timing results in a smorgasbord of off-whites, yellows, and oranges. Also, expect to see a fair number of dirt, smudges and scratches.
I had no concerns with the quality of the mono track. It is clear and distinct, and serves the movie fine. The best part about the soundtrack is that the movie features all of the original voices from the TV show, even including Mel Blanc as Mr. Spacely. And, of course, Janet Waldo was allowed to do Judy Jetson, a role she would not have in the 1990 Jetsons theatrical film, where she was replaced by Tiffany. Ruth Buzzie is plenty of fun as Felonia Funk.
This made-for-TV movie brings the focus onto “daughter Judy” and her friends, and emphasizes aliens a bit more, but it still feels very much a part of the regular franchise. In fact, only Jane Jetson isn’t given much to do, while everyone else has something of a story arc. The story brings more excitement to the table than expected, and the songs manage to not be obnoxious (though a couple wear out their welcome when they are used too often). The video quality is weak, but it’s not a deal-breaker. If you can get it for a sale price, it’s a worthwhile pick-up to complete your Hanna-Barbera Superstars 10 collection.
Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?
Rockin’ With Judy Jetson may be purchased directly from Warner Archive.