(But in case you weren’t an impressionable child in the early nineties: A smart mouse and a dumb mouse repeatedly try to take over the world. Poit! Zort! Narf!)
Hey, don’t hit the Back button… this review isn’t just unbridled nostalgia taking over. PINKY AND THE BRAIN was great when you were a kid because it was entertaining and silly, but watching it now makes me appreciate the inspired writing a lot more. Each episode is peppered with little in-jokes or subtle nuances a younger audience wouldn’t notice—everything from the hilarious absurdity of Brain’s ultrasyllabic vocabulary to saucy jabs at politicians and celebrities (“Isn’t that Michael Douglas?” “No Pinky, that’s a load of saggy baggage.”) There’s even some self-referential lampooning of that “megalomaniac” Spielberg himself. Oh, and a lawyer whose voice and mannerisms resemble a certain Christopher Walken. Who doesn’t want to see a cartoon Walken?
Aside from the brilliant writing, the other key to PINKY AND THE BRAIN’S success is the voice talent. Maurice LaMarche’s Orson Welles-infused Brain is so insanely perfect that I can’t watch CITZEN KANE now without giggling whenever he says “Yes!” And just ask Matt LeBlanc how easy it is to make a stupid character repetitive and, well, stupid. (Sorry, Joey.) But Rob Paulsen, in an Emmy-winning role, manages to keep Pinky’s dim-witted demeanor fresh, endearing and consistently funny. In a similar manner, you’d expect the one-note plot of two mice trying to take over the world to get very old very fast, but the creators aren’t stupid. After the first couple episodes the characters’ quest becomes more of a self-aware plot device used to launch the show into any adventure you could possibly imagine. Just be glad you're along for the ride.
AreYou Pondering What I’m Pondering (25:30): This was a joy to watch. For one it was amazing to see the titular two voice actors sitting in the same room, interrupting the interview to break into character and act out some of the show’s best lines. You really get a sense of why their chemistry worked so well (and how much adlibbing was done). Besides that there’s an interesting history of the show and its evolution and impact on the culture. I was surprised at how involved Spielberg remained through the entire run. (At one point the Beard was making SCHINDLER’S LIST, doing post on JURASSIC PARK, and watching his cartoons every night.)
A great extra. It’s just a shame there wasn’t more.