Home Movies is an Animated Sitcom that began on UPN, then moved to Adult Swim when the block premiered in 2001 (it was also the very first thing to air when the block launched). The show is a Spiritual Successor to Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, which used the same "SquiggleVision",note the same "retroscripting" style of dialog, and much of the same cast.
The main character is Brendon Small, and the series was created and written by Brendon Small. As you probably already guessed, it's more or less a highly fictionalized autobiography in cartoon format. Brendon is a young aspiring filmmaker, with his cast members usually being his friends Melissa and Jason, and occasionally his mom Paula who moonlights as a creative writing teacher at a local community college (in between firings from same said college). When not at home making films, the show centers around the three kids at school and their interactions with Brendon's homeroom teacher Mr. Lynch and Brendon's soccer coach, John "The Jerk" McGuirk.
This occasionally surrealist, most other times quite hilarious, Slice of Life Sitcom originally aired on UPN during midseason 1999 and was cancelled after a limited airing. Adult Swim picked it up when said programming block was just starting, and its popularity there was enough to order a full three more seasons.
Definitely not to be confused with Home Movie.
Home Movies provides examples of:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Fenton becomes (a non-romantic) one to Brendon.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Coach McGuirk buys some swords from an infomercial. He plans on returning them (since he doesn't actually have the money to buy them), but tries them out anyway. He ends up slicing the drink dispenser and the bench its sitting on in half. Accidentally.
- Accidental Misnaming: It's Brendon folks. BREEEEENNNNNNNNNNNNN. DOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNN.
- Action Girl: Melissa in Brendon's movie about Susan B. Anthony. The B stands for Bitchin'.
- Actually Pretty Funny: When Brendan and Jason try to make a movie about Melissa's senile grandfather, they end up mocking him through out the entire video. While Melissa is understandably furious at them, her dad can't help but laugh.
- Amateur Film-Making Plot: The very premise of the show is about three kids who love to make low budget movies in their spare time.
- Ambiguously Brown:
- Melissa's family and Perry.
- Brendon's sister Josie is adopted and black. This is barely touched upon, though, so this still stands.
- Ambiguously Gay: Walter and Perry.Walter: We're hugging and we don't care!Perry: We're hugging because it's cold!
- Anachronism Stew:
- An in-universe example in their film Starboy. It's clear that Brendan needs to study history better.
- The Medieval Faire play King Arthur and Robin Hood. "Moylin has a phone! Burn him!"
- Animation Bump: The animation was always really limited in the first season, due to the squigglevision. While the show retained much of its limited animation when it switched to Flash, there were instances of more elaborate character animation that became more commonplace as the series progressed. An example is seen in "Hiatus" during the jazz fighters sequence.
- Arc Words: "It's time to pay the price."
- Art Evolution: The switch from Squigglevision to Flash animation.
- Artistic License Film Production: Justified; they're only kids, with a limited grasp on how movies are made.
- Bad Liar: In "Focus Grill", Paula confronts McGuirk and asks if he sent Brendon to buy beer, which he denies. When Brendon shows up with the beer, as well as McGuirk's ID and fake moustache, McGuirk acts outraged and insists that Paula punish Brendon, while at the same time demanding his change.
- Belated Happy Ending: According to the newspaper in Improving Your Life with Improv, Eddie, a sickly child from season 2, is revealed to have been cured in Season 3.
- Berserk Button: Brendon hates to be called girls names.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Melissa is the moral center of the group but as seen in "Shore Leave", "Renaissance" and "Curses", she is not one to be crossed.
- Bittersweet Ending: Brendon decides he's had enough of making movies, and he accidentally drops his camera out of the car window, breaking it. However, everyone is having a good time, bonding more than they ever had before. Brendon is forced to give Honkey Magoo back to his original owners. But the dog has been such a destructive nuisance that Brendon is actually happy to see him go.
- Break the Cutie: A lot of fun is had with McGuirk yelling at Melissa to the point of tears. Usually written well enough that these exchanges are more funny than unpleasant.
- Brick Joke: While Brendon and the band were writing music for Starboy, the latter suggested that the Captain of Outer Space be his real brother, but Brendon. Fast forward three episodes later, where the movie actually debuts, and during a conversation between the two space heroesCaptain Of Outer Space: Right you are, my brother. *Beat* My actual brother.
- "School Nurse" opens with McGuirk trying to write a speech. He reads Brendon what he has so far, then comments, "That could be rewritten, that part right there." When he gives the speech at the end of the episode, it is nearly identical to his first draft with a few of the words switched around (and most of the threats taken out).
- By the Lights of Their Eyes: In "Yoko," the scene where Eugene pees in Coach McGuirk's canteen on the camping trip and the following confrontation between McGuirk and the kids is pitch black apart from the characters' eyes.
- Call-Back: McGuirks ditzy co-worker Clarice in Class Trip (2x09) is Dwaynes rivals girlfriend in Guitarmageddon (3x08).
- Cats Are Mean: Mr. Pants. Alexande too, although the rabies were mostly to blame.
- Character Development: Fenton went from being a stereotypical, one-dimensional mean kid to a clueless, lonely Jerkass Woobie.
- Cheerful Child: Brendon's baby sister, Josie Small.
- Chekhov's Gun: Melissa's mostly ignored rant concerning her allergy to kiwis and how, should she ingest a single one, someone must stick her with an Epi-pen. When lo and behold she eats some kiwi pie, the Epi-pen is near at hand. Averted when the pie turns out to be harmless key lime, and Junior, who has no allergic reaction to speak of, is accidentally stuck instead.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Melissa towards her Dad as she refuses to let him date and when he starts seeing a woman in his poetry writing class (well, making out in the back of a classroom because he doesn't want to stand up to Melissa, but same difference) Melissa's response to smelling this woman on him is to stay at Brendon's and ignore her father's attempts to reconcile until Brendon forges a diary entry for Eric.
- Comic-Book Time: The main characters are eight years old for the entire four-year run.
- Control Freak:
- Brendon due to being a director. At one point Dwanye actually requested him to help make a musical based on Franz Kafka. You think Brendon would be honored by this, especially coming from the guy who does the music for his movies. Nope, Brendon at first dismissive of the whole idea since he didn't write it. He temporarily quits halfway through when he doesn't get his way. And even when done, he trying to convince Dwanye to use a very lame part of a movie he was making for the final cut.
- In "Your Cheating Heart", everyone (Jason, Melissa, Coach Mcguirk, Brendon's Dad, Brendon's golf instructor, and Brendon's mom) tell him that just taking his film and making it run backwards is a bad idea, but he just ignore thems, and "Storm Warning" where Jason and Melissa eventually decide that they would rather make the movie within a movie in the mocukmentary their making. Brendon ends up finishing the film himself.
- Subverted with "Heart Smashers". While Jason and Melissa enjoy the changes to Brendon's film made by Fenton, whose changes involve taking out most of the script (despite the fact Fenton had read the script before taking the role and was permited to make any changes), and constantly puts the film behind schedule. It is only when Brendon turns production over to Melissa and Jason do they realize what Brendon had to deal with.
- Crossover: Many years after the show ended, Brendon (reprised by his actor) made an appearance as a video store clerk in an episode of Clarence; photos of McGurk and several others are seen nearby.
- Curse Cut Short:Couch McGuirk: (accidentally broke his pen) Oh, DA— !!
- Cuteness Proximity: Mr. Lynch, if a cat is nearby. The time Lynch dressed up like a cat for Halloween, his fondness ventured increasingly into genuine oddness, as he began (apparently helplessly) acting more and more like a cat as the episode progressed; one suspects we'd have witnessed extreme creepiness if the show had lasted another five minutes.
- Demoted to Extra: Erik appears more in the first season than in subsequent seasons, where he does show up but usually in a cameo or subplot.
- Department of Redundancy Department:
- When Paula tells Brendon to finish his oatmeal, Brendon asks why.Paula: Well, oatmeal contains... oatmeal.
- Fenton and his mother are incapable of not referring to Brendon's movies as "Video films" no matter how many times he tries to explain doing so is redundant since "Video" and "Film" refer to the same thing equally.
- When Paula tells Brendon to finish his oatmeal, Brendon asks why.
- Didn't Think This Through: Paula bluffs her way into a job as a protocol engineer designer for a mammalian genetic research team. Gilligan Cut to her in front of a complicated control panel and a monkey to human brain transfer test on the other side of the glass.Paula: You know what? There's been a terrible mistake. I was kidding. I, I don't know the first thing about being, uh... what is it I'm supposed to be? I'll find my own way out. I'm leaving now.
- Disappeared Dad: Brendon's father. In Brendon's Choice, Brendon comes to grips with the fact he never sees his father. However, his father calls after Brendon gets (briefly) mentioned on the news. The episode ends with Brendon picking up the phone after a long hesitation and saying, "Hello". Credits Roll. His dad does however come back into his life in season 2, albeit bringing his annoying fiance and later wife with him.
- Distinction Without a Difference: In "Business and Pleasure", when Jason calls Paula in the middle of the night:Jason: Did I wake you?
Paula: No, I was just sleeping.
- The Dividual: Walter and Perry have nearly identical personalities.
- Domestic-Only Cartoon: As with Dr. Katz, it was animated entirely in-house in Massachusetts.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Brendon's attempt at making an educational film telling kids not to put marbles in their nose predictably backfires. It backfires to such an epic degree that even Mr. Lynch, Jason and Paula all stick marbles up their nose.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Brendon is trying to stop an older kid from beating him up, and gets him to turn placid and mellowed out. Melissa, who was harboring a crush on the guy, angrily beats up Brendon for changing him.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- The UPN episodes had McGuirk as an occasional character (Even missing episode 4), Jason being basically a gross out comedy generator, and Brendon as a more average every kid. But the worst of it is Paula, who is voiced by Paula Poundstone who portrays her as a more stereotypical single parent who's always on the phone with her friend, while later episodes establish she has no social life. But all of this changed by the time they got to Adult Swim.
- In the pilot episode, Brendon hated McGuirk, as he was horrified that his mom was dating him and even called him "McGuirk the Jerk." However, later episodes show that they have an Intergenerational Friendship.
- Exposition Already Covered: In Season 2 "Class Trip", Brendon, Jason, and Melissa are filming a scene in a hotel room. When Jason's character enters the scene, Melissa's character explains to Brendon's character who he is and what he's going to do. Jason tells her that she actually spoke a couple of his lines, which Melissa apologizes for.Melissa: Oh, no! It's Mr. Shock, my father's very own private private eye! He's been hiding in the bathroom and heard the whole thing. He must have followed me here to take the diamonds back and probably turn you into the police. He's not a man you can reason with.
Jason: Um, I think you did a couple of my lines.
- Express Lane Limit: In "Brendon's Choice", McGuirk gets irritated that the man in front of him has more than ten items. This escalates to the guy punching McGuirk in the face.
- Le Film Artistique: Some of Brendon's films try to invoke this.
- Fix It in Post: Brendon says this often, but as Jason points out, they never fix anything in post. Brendon just uses the term to sound like a director.
- Fun with Acronyms: Paula's boss, Mr. Lindenson, made an alternative to ASAP: ACTASAP ("as close to as soon as possible"). He also made the acronym WSGAFM ("When she gets a free minute").
Interviewer: You did 'em all! I'm not even familiar with some of these some of these programs!
- In "Business and Pleasure", Paula's doctored resume says she's proficient in Visual Basics, ASP, SQL, DMS, SOB, STP, and BVD.
Paula: Well, it's cutting edge.
- Funny Background Event:
- In "Brendon Gets Rabies", while Paula and Brendon are talking to the veterinarian, a lot of foam is coming out of the box where the rabid cat is in.
- In "It Was Supposed To Be Funny", Paula and Brendon are talking about fries in the parking lot of Alien Burger when a car drives up to the drive-thru window. Then a beam of light appears around the car and the car floats up.
- In "School Nurse," while out having a drink, graffiti on the booth behind Nurse Kirkman says, "Billy [Heart]s Brandy," while the booth behind Coach McGuirk says, "Stop carving up my booth."
- Garage Band: Duane's garage band, Scäb. They even do a rock opera based on Franz Kafka. Not to mention winning the battle of the bands.
- Hanging Judge: Brendon had been riding his bike on the wrong side of the road, and he was struck by a car, head-on, and then forced to go to court for said riding on the wrong side of the road. The judge showed no sympathy toward Brendon who was on trial over said accident, when Brendon was nearly killed. It's possible the owners of the car bribed the judge.
- The Heart: Melissa.
- Heel Realization: Brendon is absolutely dumbfounded when he watches his film's dailies in Improving Your Life Through Improv and realizes what a jerk he was being behind the scenes.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Walter and Perry, although an episode where they wanted to see Fenton's naked mom made them come across more as straight, or at least bi.
- Hidden Depths: Shannon is a lot more complex than most schoolyard bullies.
- Hypocritical Humor: Paula tells Brendon not to swear, because it will make his vocabulary "turn to shit". McGuirk takes it a step further, telling Brendon that cursing is a sign of ignorance, just before launching into an expletive-laden tirade at a referee.
- I Don't Like You and You Don't Like Me
- I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!: Jason with candy.
- Informed Attractiveness: Any character who's called attractive, given the art style.
- Instrumental Theme Tune
- Intergenerational Friendship: McGuirk, despite his unpleasantness, does actually consider Brendon to be his friend. It's the same with Melissa, depite his occasional Jerkass treatment of her. Though he barely knows Jason.
- Irony: Brendon spends the first half of "School Nurse" pretending to be sick so he can get out of school (although no one buys his act). He spends the next half of the episode getting paler and more tired-looking, eventually throwing up during soccer practice. Apparently his illness was "psychosomatic," brought on from the stress of trying to fake it.
- McGuirk to a T.
- Fenton Muley.
- Brendon certainly has shades of this a good portion of the time.
- Jerk Jock: McGuirk. A mild subversion in that while he loves sports, he's terrible at them.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: McGuirk Depending on the Writer, but generally he does care for Lynch, Erik, Paula, Brendon, Jason and Melissa from time to time.
- Killer Rabbit: 'Now I'd like to introduce you to my killing machine... who also happens to be my favorite kitty.'
- "Knock Knock" Joke:
- Perhaps the most epic knock-knock joke ever, while Linda gives birth to her baby:Brendon: (shouting angrily) No, you know what?! Knock-knock!Linda: Who's there?!Brendon: FUCK YOU!
- From "It Was Supposed To Be Funny":McGuirk: Then theres nice-funny, like maybe a little light sarcasm or a clever twist or a knock-knock joke. I like those. You like those?
McGuirk: Brendon. Knock-knock. Im doing a knock-knock joke. Knock-knock.
Brendon: Uh, hello.
McGuirk: What do you mean, "hello"? You say, "Who's there?", Brendon. Do you know a knock-knock joke?
Brendon: Yeah, uh...
McGuirk: I say "knock-knock" you say, "Who's there?"
Brendon: Yeah, right. Im not a big fan of...
McGuirk: You know what? Do it. Knock-knock.
Brendon: Who's there?
McGuirk: No, wait a minute, you say knock-knock.
Brendon: I don't... knock-knock.
McGuirk: Whos there?
Brendon: ...I don't know.
McGuirk: I don't know who?
Brendon: I don't know, I hate this joke.
McGuirk: That's not funny. Its got to be a pun or something. You know what? Forget it.
- Perhaps the most epic knock-knock joke ever, while Linda gives birth to her baby:
- Large Ham:
- Brendon tells Jason to be this repeatedly in one of his movies. Jason becomes such a Ham that he yells incoherently & pulls some hair out of his wig.
- Brendon when he was faking being sick, and in that same episode, McGuirk when he got liquored up on his date with the school nurse.
- The Blonde Waitress in "Psyco Delicate", as well as Brendon's grandmother.
- Last Note Nightmare: The opening to "Four's Company" starts normally but ends with a horror wail.
- Laughing Mad: Andrew and Linda are stressed out during their wedding. So Andrew ends up making a joke about them getting divorced in the future. They both end up laughing hysterically in such a way where it's obviously not because of the joke itself, but the possibility of divorce and a stressful marriage.
- Living Prop: The other 3 members of Dwayne's band, Skab. They speak exactly once in the entire run of the show.
- Long Pants: Played with; everyone wears these full-body jumpsuits that even cover their hands to the fingertips. This, however, seems to be an intentional decision (rather than lazy animation), as we later see Brendon's room, which has several identical jumpsuits scattered all over the floor.
- Man-Eating Plant: Apparently the plant at the end of "Brendon Gets Rabies".
- Marty Stu: In-Universe Example. When Fenton forces Brendon to let him be in the next film, he insists during the making of said film that his character is smart, tall, handsome, and superhuman.
- MST: Invoked In-Universe. The three kids who went through the "scared straight" program all thought the prisoners were trying too hard and the whole situation was ridiculous.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Brendon shoots a Swords and Sorcery epic entitled "Landstander". He's not a wizard, or a warrior, he just stands, on land.
- My Beloved Smother: Paula's Mom, who refuses to let her pay for anything and re-folds her underwear. Really.
- My Eyes Are Up Here: When Melissa has balloons as Gag Boobs playing a starlet, Jason can't help staring.Melissa: Jason, stop looking at my fake boobs!
Jason: I can't. I can't. I can't move my eyes.
- Never Heard That One Before: In "It's Time to Pay the Price", all the prisoners who try to scare Brendon, Melissa, and Jason straight have roughly the same life story ("I come from a broken home!"). Very quickly the trio get jaded about hearing the same things over and over.
- No Indoor Voice: Mr. Lindenson.
- Nobody Loves the Bassist: Discussed in "Guitarmageddon" when Melissa and Brendon calls dibs on playing the drums and guitar in their band.Jason: Bass is thankless. Nobody cares about the bass player. He's the loser of the group.
- The Noseless: Melissa is this just like the other females in the show.
- Oh, Crap!: Lynch utters this when he realizes he left the intercom on in the 4th season premiere.
- Parental Substitute: By the end of the show, Coach Mc Guirk essential becomes a father figure to Brendon, which is noted by the kids in "Focus Grill". That same episode shows Paula serving a similar role to Melissa.
- The Pigpen: Jason. Though this was largely downplayed after season 1.
- Pointy-Haired Boss: Mr. Lindenson.
- Political Overcorrectness: "Curses" where Paula sanitizes Brendon's raunchy sex comedy to an insane degree. Going so far as to telling him not to say 'Dam' even though he's referring to the actual Hoover Dam.
- Pungeon Master: The geography teacher in "Class Trip".
- Put on a Bus: Josie in Season 2 (though she had cameos in that season).
- Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Averted, as much of the voice acting was improvised.
- "Rear Window" Homage: In "Definite Possible Murder," Brendon twists his knee and starts spying on his new neighbor while at home resting up. He starts to believe he saw his neighbor murder his wife (which leads to the episode's title).
- Rewind, Replay, Repeat: Brendon repeatedly plays Jason's throwaway line "It reminds me of my father" in the season 1 finale.
- School Nurse: Unlike many Western Animation examples, the one introduced in "School Nurse" is attractive, and many characters hit on her.
- Scout-Out: The Skunk Scouts.
- Signature Style: Season 3 reveals that Brendon ends all of his movies with the words, "it's time to pay the price." Subverted when it turns out that this was unintentional.
- Slice of Life
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Surprisingly for an adult animated show, its fairly close in the middle leaning slightly more towards the optimistic end.
- Small Name, Big Ego: McGuirk.
- Speak in Unison: From Season One's "School Nurse."Mr. Lynch: I want you to tell us all what happens there as a study in... Class? Biology. Everybody?Class: Biology.Mr. Lynch: That's very good, and it's very good to speak in unison. What are we speaking in, class? Everybody?Class: Unison.Mr. Lynch: Right.
- Special Guest:
- Squiggle Vision: One of the originals. Noticeably dropped after the first season.
- Stepford Smiler: Melissa. Just watch the finale where she puts her ending to a movie they never finished.
- Stylistic Suck:
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: McGuirk's song at the end of "Psycho Delicate.""Watch it again, one more time / watch it again or I'll break your back."
- Take That!:
- The animators' commentaries on the DVD sets called out various users on message boards who criticized the show.
- In-show example: In "Method of Acting", Brendon mentions that Martin Scorsese has dabbled in acting. Melissa responds: "You call that acting?"
- Teacher/Student Romance: In "Method Acting", Paula tries to have a one-to-one talk with a student that turns into a makeout session. Paula seems pretty ashamed of it because of how unprofessional it is, especially when she's talking to Brendon at the diner table. However, it's subverted when it's revealed he makeouts with everyone.
- Thoroughly Mistaken Identity: A cop at the end of "Law and Boarder" informs McGuirk that he has a warrant for his arrest. The charge? "Murder One." But then he re-checks his notes and states the actual reason: McGuirk failed to turn in an essay that the judge ordered him to write.
- Title Drop:
- Mr. Lynch in "Those Bitches Tried To Cheat Me" drops the episode title when he realizes that Junior, Walter and Perry tried to cheat on their test - using the wrong answers.
- Done with Coach McGuirk imitates Jimmy Stewart:McGuirk: It's a Wonderful Life. Clarence, it's a wonderful life!
- Title-Only Opening: The show has no intro aside from "Home Movies" appearing on the Small's TV screen. Two first-season episodes did have a short intro, but it was abandoned in favor of this.
- Title, Please!
- Top-Heavy Guy: McGuirk. He later becomes obsessed with developing his pectorals. It gets pretty nasty, and by that we mean they deflate and resemble breasts... Although they already resembled breasts somewhat, to the point where Brendon mocked him constantly about it.
- Tranquil Fury: In "Brendon's Choice" McQuirk is taking anger management and manages to keep his cool while his counselor is checking up on him and a heckler is insulting him from the stands. But after the game when the heckler gets into his car...
- Unexplained Accent: Ken Addleburg and his son Junior both speak with a ridiculously comical, and completely unexplained accent. Brendon Small has reused this voice in his portrayals of the plastic surgeon on The Venture Bros. and Victor Diamond on the Comedy Bang Bang podcast.
- Unusual Euphemism: In "Brendon Gets Rabies", the veterinarian refers to euthanasia as "making cotton candy".
- Verbal Tic: Brendon constantly clears his throat before speaking. Sometimes it's all he says before another character has a line.
- Villain Song: Mr. Pants' theme.
- Vocal Evolution: Paula's thick accent gets toned down pretty quickly.