By the time high school rolled around, you’d think I’d finally grow up a little. Get a bit rebellious with my folks, try to woo the ladies, get in trouble at school, and most importantly, stop watching cartoons. I decidedly did not do that last part. Throughout my high school years (2001 – 2005), I never really made the shift into watching mature material. While I very, very slowly weened myself off the truly infantile shows, I never stopped watching any and all cartoons I was interested in. Even at 32, I still do, only now I don’t feel the social stigma. At least I can and want to see more mature things if the opportunity presents itself. But even today, if someone asks if I want to see The Tigger Movie or Happy Death Day, I’m probably opt for the one with Pooh Bear.
I’m getting off track. Anyway, in that time period, Disney Channel aired one of its highest-rated shows of all time: Kim Possible. I loved it. I thought it was funny, well-written, and action-packed. It starred 15-year-old Kim Possible, who traversed the world, solving crimes and mysteries, often going toe-to-toe with megalomaniacal super villains bent on world domination. That was awesome in and of itself, but Disney gotta Disney in the early aughts, so the show’s marketed gimmick was “She fights crime all over the world but, MAN, that geometry final, amirite, tweens?”. It was just a feeble attempt to be relatable that, I think, was dropped after the first season once the show got more solid and was more focused on the characters.
In 2018, Disney announced they were bringing back the character for a live action movie, much to the mixed reaction of many, many fans. The original creators developed the show, and a cute promo showed the OG voice actors of Kim and Ron, Christy Carlson Romano And Will Friedle, appeared online. While I’m not really impressed with what I’ve seen so far, I’m glad the memory of KP is alive and well for the next generation.
When the show’s third season came to a close in 2005, Disney Channel was going to go out with a bang and end it a made-for-TV movie that truly upped the stakes. Did it pay off? Swing spectacularly to see the seasoned secret spy stop super scheming scoundrels!
The plot: As prom nears, Kimberly Ann Possible (Romano) starts to fret about all her well-known exploits deterring the possibility of having a steady boyfriend. That seems to change rather abruptly as a new boy in school, Erik (Raviv Ullman), enters the picture and he and Kim start spending a lot of time together. Ron Stoppable (Friedle), who has been Kim’s bestie since pre-K, is feeling squeezed out. As the two get more and more serious, Ron starts wondering if his feelings for Kim are deeper than even he thought.
Meanwhile, Dr. Drakken (John DiMaggio), Kim’s arch nemesis, has been planning…something. Even his closest lackey, Shego (Nicole Sullivan) is flummoxed that his plans seem to involve kidnapping Kim’s dad, upgrading robots, stealing toy plans, and studying lifestyles of the average teenage girl.
How’s the writing?: This series finale was everything KP fans wanted. The action was grander. The animation was slicker. The mystery was deeper. The emotions were more intense. It was simply bigger, and there were numerous reasons why it worked.
For one, it still looked and felt like the average Kim Possible episode. The timing and pacing was equally on par with the usual 23-minute episodes. It didn’t turn off fans by trying to be different, but instead kept the tone and drama fairly level with what we came to expect. But there were hints that this was bigger than what we were used to. For example, Dr. Drakken is typically a doofus whose plans are often very straightforward. They often involve Shego going out to steal some priceless, cutting edge technology, and it being the critical component in whatever diabolical laser or machine he’s building. But in the movie, he seems to actually know what he’s doing in assembling a multi-faceted plan. Shego is often the first to dismiss his boneheaded schemes, but for once, even she’s blown away that not only does he have an actually clever plan, but he might beat Kim for once. Though he was never as inept as Dr. Doofenshmirtz of Phineas and Ferb fame, he comes close.
Does it give the feels?: Another aspect that upped the game for Kim Possible fans was the relationship between Kim and Ron. The two were best friends for years, but there were hints every now and then that there might have been more going on. Even in the early episodes when Kim had a crush on a Josh Mankey, something about it felt off. In So the Drama, Kim is instantly smitten with this Erik guy that does what Josh never did: drive a wedge in their friendship. It takes Kim essentially being taken away from Ron for him to realize something was amiss.
Ron has never been what you’d call a leading man. He wasn’t very skilled in combat, he was terrified of many things (particularly monkeys), he was always falling over or losing his pants, was often slow on the uptake, and generally easily distracted when it came to his favorite restaurant, Bueno Nacho. But he was never malicious or nasty, he was loyal to a fault, and above all, he was a good friend. Among his better qualities, he never considered himself “friendzoned”, and he never felt intimidated by Kim’s physical prowess. In fact, he considers his friendship with her more important than pursuing anything more, a fact he reveals to his pet naked mole rat Rufus in an intimate moment late in the movie.
But it’s not just feeling isolated from Kim. Even Bueno Nacho has become unrecognizable to him, with newer, more militaristic policies that further depress the sidekick. What was once his safe place is being stripped away from him. As such, the movie feels like it takes more stock in Ron’s struggles than Kim’s, but it’s no less poignant.
Who makes it worth it?: There are numerous great performances here, but my hat still goes to Ron Stoppable. He was a dweeby, childish, goofball who was unashamed of his shortcomings, and I was a dweeby, childish goofball who was unashamed of my shortcomings. But arguably that’s what made it so powerful when he starts to realize he has to grow up and things have to change. During a montage, Ron watches his social life dissolve as Kim is spending more and more time with Erik. It’s truly sad to watch his emptiness get deeper and deeper every time he sees just how happier Kim is. It’s this that serves as the emotional fulcrum of the movie to great effect, even for geek like me…er, Ron.
Best quality provided: The show never failed when it came to its fight choreography. Despite things like Kim and Shego’s ability to seemingly jump twenty feet in the air or Shego’s glowing fist power being kind of inconsistent, the fight scenes were glorious to watch and used animation to its greatest potential. In this movie, the stakes were greater, particularly in the final battle, where Kim is using a battle suit that really challenges Shego. It truly feels like the fight to beat all the other fights.
What could have been improved: Disney Channel music has always been hit or miss with me, with a roughly 20% hit to a 80% miss ratio. Kim Possible had a handful of relatively decent songs on its soundtrack, from “Its Just You” to “The Naked Mole Rap”, “Say the Word” to its own theme, “Call me, Beep me”. The rest of the time, it felt like Disney was really pushing to impress the tweens with manufactured pop music. While the songs did their duty to emphasize the emotional moments, that was about all they did. What saves them is they’re boring at they’re worst. They’re not bad songs, they’re just vapid, uninspired, safe songs that are mostly background noise.
Verdict: While there are elements that reference the series, I think this is a good way to introduce others who are not familiar with the franchise. I mean, the show did well enough to get its own Walt Disney World attraction (Epcot’s Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure), I think that’s a testament to the strength of the show. The only thing that truly bugs me about it is the fact this turned out to not be the series finale, even though it totally was intended to be.
After it aired in 2005, the show was done. However, a grassroots campaign from fans demanded more, and in 2007, surprisingly, Disney channel acquiesced and actually produced a fourth season that ended with Kim and Ron’s graduation. I like that season fine, it still feels like a natural part of the earlier three. But as far as the live action movie goes…I hope it at least retains the same spirit as the original series. So the Drama gets seven Kimmunicators out of ten.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go make me a naco.