Have you watched a cartoon in the last 20 years? Then it was probably influenced in some way by The Ren & Stimpy Show, the 1990s Nicktoon classic that basically redefined animation, kicked off controversy left and right, and made every kid feel like they were watching something secretly illicit that they couldn’t quite understand. However, as the first trailer for the new documentary Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren and Stimpy Story shows, it wasn’t all better than bad behind the scenes.
The show made its creator, John Kricfalusi, one of the hottest animators in the world and set him up to become a leader in the medium. Things didn’t turn out that way, though, as Kricfalusi used his fame and position to take advantage of young women while routinely not delivering on work as well. The movie also confronts the issue of separating an artist from his work and how we should think of Ren & Stimpy given its creator’s actions. This makes the documentary, one ostensibly about a children’s cartoon, all the more timely and important.
This film is Ron Cicero and Kimo Eastwood’s directorial debut, but it already garnered a ton of positive buzz around the festival circuit, including strong reviews out of Sundance. For any kid of the ’90s, it will at least be interesting, if not eye-opening, to hear the story behind the cartoon that could simultaneously make you laugh and then haunt your dreams.
Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren and Stimpy Story will release on on VOD and Digital HD on Aug. 14.