I remember the winter 2001-2002 Monsters Inc./Walt’s 100th birthday issue of Disney Magazine. Near the back was a press release about a new Disney channel TV show about super-secret agent teenage girl who took on megalomaniacal villains using little more than her wits, gadgets, and cheerleading skills. The show creators seemed a little too proud of the show (and titular characters’) punny names, but it seemed just odd enough. Not just the inclusion of a naked mole rat, but a drawing style that looked equal parts swoopy and pointy, as if scrawled by Gerald Scarfe (Points if you get that reference).
A year or so later, my friend in high school was friggin’ NUTS over the show, idolizing Shego, one of the show’s villains. I snuck whatever viewings of the show I could and saw that I was impressed with what I saw. Kim Possible was sharp, action packed, inventive, and funny. And seeing as I was essentially Ron Stoppable’s doppelgänger, I gravitated toward the show even more.
But what’s truly noteworthy about Kim Possible is that it was the first Disney animated show to really have taken on a life of its own beyond the show. The show’s run ended in 2005 with the made-for-TV movie So the Drama, but the demand was so high, it actually came back in 2007 for a fourth and final season. In 2006, a scavenger hunt themed to the show popped up in Walt Disney World’s Epcot, replaced by a certain secret agent monotreme a decade later. Kim and Ron even did meet and greets at the parks, really the first TV characters to do since the days of the Disney Afternoon! And now…Disney’s ready to make a live action movie with them. Yeah. I guess they think we’re nostalgic enough for a Kim Possible reboot, but not a Gargoyles one?! Is there ANY justice in this god-forsaken planet?!
But I digress. What are my thoughts? Well…
Why it’s gonna suck: They announced its gonna be a live action adaptation. Not a bad idea, I mean it worked for Rocky and Bullwinkle, The Cat in the Hat, Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones, Mr. Magoo, and Ben 10…except, no. No, they did not.
These properties are animated because they work best in the stretchy-squashy realms of artistry, and while you can hire some of the best, most limber actors out there to communicate the blue derp face of Dr. Drakken, the hysterical shriekings of Ron Stoppable, or just Rufus, the naked mole rat, it’s gonna fall flat. These work best in animation because it’s easier to craft that from scratch. It’s inevitably going to be compared to the show, and while the fight choreography might be pretty close, some character designs are hard to convey with looking creepy, bizarre, or jarring.
Why it’s gonna be awesome: it may not have anything to do with the original creators.
Well, let me rephrase: McCorkle and Schooley, the show’s creators, did write the script, but let’s hope that’s the extent of their involvement. No offense to any of the other staff, who toiled over the series and made it their own, but seeing as we’re living in the golden age of fans and fan-made films, it’s often inspiring to see when fans take the reins of things that inspired them when they were kids.
This is an easy example, but…take a look at 2009’s Turtles Forever, a crossover between the 1987 TMNT show and the 2003 show. While fun in its own right, it was clear the show writers didn’t think much of the goofy, campy show of the eighties that made the turtles a household name. The ‘87 turtles kept making jokes, getting distracted, barely used their weapons, and drove even ‘03 Michelangelo crazy. In Transdimensional Turtles, the 2016 crossover between the ‘87 gang and 2012 Nickelodeon series, there was still a bunch of jokiness, but they still held their own and proved to be just as competent in battle as their newer counterparts. It was definitely a labor of homage and and respect.
It’s been ten years since Kim and Ron graduated. Here’s hoping we’ll get an inspired perspective from a fresh pair of eyes.
Why it’s gonna suck: Will the kids get it?
The mid-aughts were a long time ago. Longer than my generation cares to admit. And I worry some parts of the show may not resonate with the jaded kids of today.
Don’t believe me? Okay, well, let me ask this: with Skype as a commonly-used communication network, exactly how novel is Kim’s trademark Kimmunicator? For all the kids who watch YouTube videos of everything from Jackass stunts to new and expensive inventions, what’s all that different about watching KP in a hang glider, rappelling down a mountain, or snowboarding while fighting Shego? While the appeal of greasy fast food never truly dies, it has been declining slowly, making me wonder if kids today will understand Ron’s addiction to Bueno Nacho. This means some serious strides are going to have to be taken to find a way to make this movie interesting and inventive.
I mean, if Michael Bay’s TMNT movies could make action sequences look boring, what chance would KP have?
Why it’s gonna be awesome: we need role models like Kim and Ron.
Before Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow, Kim Possible was the original badass redhead with mad fighting skills. KP wasn’t the first Strong Independent Woman Who Don’t Need No Man, but she was one of best fully-fleshed out ones. She wasn’t just some put-upon sourpuss Mary Sue who rolled her eyes when Ron or Drakken would bungle up things. Sure, the boys weren’t particularly sharp, but Kim was very well-rounded. She was empathetic, she was competitive, she was prone to her vices like shopping only at Club Banana. She even had doubts, mostly concerning her personal life, since she didn’t bother with that secret identity crap. And HER PARENTS KNEW ABOUT HER MISSIONS! She didn’t have sneak around or lie or dress up in costumes like most Disney Channel sitcoms. She had a mature and respectful relationship with her parents. Seriously, how rare is that?
Ron definitely is a role model a lot of guys need. He’s a dweeb, but he’s comfortable with who he is and won’t change it for anyone. He found ways to turn his passions into practical uses from inventing the Naco to owning the role of the school’s mascot. He’s been Kim’s best friend since Pre-K, but he had no problem just being her friend, to the point where he worried dating Kim was going to ruin their friendship. So, no, dude-bros, being “friend zoned” isn’t the worst thing ever!
Why it’s gonna suck: How much CGI are they gonna use?
No matter how hard I try, I can’t get the image of Spy Kids: 3-D out of my head. Sadly, as “live-action” as this movie’s gonna be, there’s going to have to be LOT of computer animation. From Drakken’s blue skin to Shego’s pale green tint, they need to nail the likenesses of the characters. Shego’s Powers, that…acid-y, power, kirby krackle thing she had going that was never really defined, I don’t think…is going to have to look cool. Well, better than Iron Fist, anyway.
And then there’s Rufus, Ron’s pet naked mole rat who chews through ropes, undoes locks, and is the Scooby to Ron’s Shaggy. Problem: ever seen a real-life naked mole rat?
They are everything Rufus is not. Especially since they are blind. So they are going to have to render a CGI Rufus onto Ron’s shoulder.
In the end, I remain skeptical. I’m pretty sure it can be done, and done well, but DCOM’s track record remains sketchy. But here are my suggestions:
1. Keep the stakes big. In her movies, KP stopped a time monkey and an army of Drakken’s robots, plots that were just as silly as they were epic. And if Kim’s going to make the leap into live action territory, she’s going to have to to step it up a notch.
2. Keep the costumes. Much like how fans still haven’t gotten over that Hugh Jackman never wore the classic yellow and blue Wolverine costume we’ve loved in the comics, the last thing you want to do is mix up the costumes. Sure, Kim changed from her classic black top and olive cargo pants look to a purple top in season four, but if they try to “upgrade” or “update” her look, it’s only gonna anger fans unnecessarily.
3. Hire teens to play Kim and Ron. It’s tempting to hire college students to play high school kids since they’re legally adults, but Kim and Ron always felt like teenagers, prone to mood swings, obsessions, and high school pressure. Kim and Ron were meant to be 15, and while I’m flexible, I urge the directors to not go much higher than 18.
4. Get Christy Carlson Romano, Will Friedle, John DiMaggio,Nicole Sullivan, and Nancy Cartwright to do a quick cameo. Obviously these four (Who played Kim, Ron, Drakken, Shego, and Rufus, respectively) won’t reprise their roles, but giving original cast a cameo is a sort of tradition in passing on the baton to the next generation. As long as they don’t constitute a huge part of the movie, I’d like to see them as like Bueno Nacho patrons or something, shaking their heads as Kim and Ron go off on another mission.
5. Maintain the heart and integrity of the characters. If this fails, then the whole movie fails. If we don’t see Kim or Ron, we see actors pretending, all semblance of immersion disappears. Even if the plot turns out to be a real nothingburger, we can at least delight in seeing the characters we love in a third dimension.
So, will they pull it off? I don’t know. I hope they do. And in the meantime, I’ll keep waiting on news of a Gargoyles reboot, or the long-awaited and rumored Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers movie or the live action Phineas and Ferb movie.
In the meantime, I’m TAP-G, and call me, beep me, if ya wanna reach me.