Happy Happy Joy Joy Image

Happy Happy Joy Joy

By Alan Ng | January 27, 2020

SUNDANCE 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! There are two animated shows on television today that have pushed the boundaries of decency and have been attacked because of their negative impact on the moral foundations of family-friendly cartoons on TV. They are The Simpsons and South Park. But arguably, there should have been one more (really many more), but for this review, I’m talking about Ren & Stimpy in Ron Cicero and Kimo Easterwood’s documentary Happy Happy Joy Joy – The Ren & Stimpy Story.

While Happy Happy Joy Joy starts as your typical how-did-this-get-made-type documentary, it becomes something very different in the end. The doc opens with Hollywood industry types, including a certain rebellious and mildly famous film magazine editor, gushing over Ren & Stimpy’s influence on modern animation today, and how amazing it was for a radical show like this ever made it on children’s television.

 “…starts as your typical how-did-this-get-made-type documentary, it becomes something very different in the end.”

Beginning in 1991, Ren & Stimpy ran for five seasons on Nickelodeon, but the documentary focuses primarily on the first. The primary subject of the documentary is Ren & Stimpy’s creator John Kricfalusi. As docs do, Happy Happy Joy Joy goes over his childhood love of animation, his disdain of the limited-animation-style appearing on television at that time, and his dream to change the landscape of the genre.

Getting on Nickelodeon wasn’t easy, and both Kricfalusi and Nickelodeon’s Vanessa Coffey go into detail about how John pitched a show about a gang of kids. However, Coffey noticed the pets of one of the kids—a chihuahua and a cat. She wanted the series to be about them, and off they went. Kricfalusi established Spümcø with other artists and animators, many of whom appear in the doc. John would voice Ren, and Billy West would be Stimpy.

Happy Happy Joy Joy – The Ren & Stimpy Story (2020)

Directed and Written: Ron Cicero, Kimo Easterwood

Starring: John Kricfalusi, Billy West, Abby Coffey, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Happy Happy Joy Joy – The Ren & Stimpy Story Image

"…the documentary doesn’t overtly cast judgment upon Kricfalusi, it does present the facts."

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  1. Last Week's Episode: Birds and Cats and Pokemon, Oh my! - WWAC says:

    […] Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story was shown on January 28. Meant as a documentary focused in part on creator John Kricfalusi, the documentary also featured Robyn Byrd, a former animator and ex-teenaged girlfriend of John K. She and Katie Rice both revealed that John K had groomed and sexually abused them as teens in a blockbuster 2018 Buzzfeed report. Although Robyn Byrd is listed second as a cast member, she had to crowdfund through Twitter to attend the premiere. John K for his part remains unrepentant, reaching through the screen to continue the abuse with a “Call me, Byrd.” According to one reviewer, the documentary “presents the facts” and those facts “overwhelmingly conclude that Kricfalusi became a serial abuser and pedophile.” [Film Threat] […]

  2. Lauren Davis says:

    I appreciate this review, but I want to mention that these weren’t teen women, they were the girls. One was 13! Even 18-19 are hardly women, with both bodily changes and brain development still taking place. Womens brains and bodies finish developing at 25, which is incidentally also the age that older predator men lose interest. Funny, ain’t it?

    • Alan Ng says:

      I did struggle with the right terminology. Let me be clear, they were young teen females far under the age of 18.

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