Follow TV Tropes

Following

Western Animation / Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/vlcsnap_54221_5.png
Advertisement:

Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling is a 2019 animated special of Rocko's Modern Life. It is a direct sequel to the series' final episode, "Future Schlock," released 23 years prior.

After being stuck in space for 20 years, Rocko, Heffer, Filburt and Spunky return to a late-2010s era O-Town with modern amenities such as constantly updating smartphones, radioactive energy drinks, food trucks and coffee shops on every corner. Rocko, who does not share Heffer and Filburt's enthusiasm for the 21st century, attempts to get his favorite television show The Fatheads back on the air since it is the last remnant of his past; to do so, he goes on a quest to find the show's creator, Ralph Bighead.

WARNING: This is a very spoiler-heavy movie, and while some are marked, others may not be. Proceed at your own risk.

Advertisement:

Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling contains examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The film takes place in present day (the 2010s), as literally 20 years have passed since Rocko, Heffer, Filburt, and Spunky have been stuck in space. In that time, Heffer has finally finished singing "Nine Hundred Bazillion Bottles of Root Beer on the Wall", and has moved on to "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain".
  • An Aesop: Change is inevitable and part of life, and trying to live in the past will cause you to miss out on many great things in the life that truly matter.
  • Animation Bump: Thanks to 20+ years of technological improvements in animation production, a change in overseas studios (from Sunwoo Entertainment and Rough Draft Studios to Yeson Entertainment), plus a more lax production schedule, the animation is significantly crisper and more fluid than the original series ever was. Digital techniques are also heavily utilized for the character animation, and all of the backgrounds are still hand-painted.
  • Advertisement:
  • Aside Glance: After Rocko says his Mad Libs Catchphrase "The 21st century is a very dangerous century" to the camera, Mrs. Bighead asks him to whom he is speaking to.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Rachel Bighead adds a baby Fathead to the series.
  • Back for the Dead:
    • Captain Compost Heap from the episode "Zanzibar" makes a brief cameo where he sings the R-E-C-Y-C-L-E Recycle song before being flattened by Rocko's house. A news crawl seen later in the special confirms that he died.
    • Filburt's Aunt Gretchen, originally introduced in the Halloween Episode "Sugar Frosted Frights", shows up at the gathering ready to view the new Fatheads special. She ends up dying when a smartphone is thrown into her water tank.
  • Back for the Finale: A number of one shot minor characters returned for this film, such as Gladys the Hippo Lady and the elves, among many other characters. Even Filburt's wife, Dr. Hutchinson, and their now grown-up children appear.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • From outside the Conglom-O building, it sounds like the Chameleon Brothers are whipping their animators, but it is revealed that they are actually using a sound effects machine to do the whipping.
    • When Rocko and co. fall from the sky when their drone runs out of power, a vendor below advertises his cart stuffed to the brim with pillows. The friends completely miss it and crash on the ground next to it. The same gag happens later when Mr. Dupette tosses the animators off the top of Conglom-O.
    • When Conglom-O goes bankrupt, its employees all jump out the window, but it is shown that they are actually parachuting out instead of committing suicide as implied.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: On the graphics of the news reports regarding Conglom-O's bankruptcy, one of the stock tickers on the side panel has Viacom's stock symbol (VIA) displayed.
  • Book-Ends: The special ends as it begins, with a character, Mr. Dupette, singing an absurdly long song while stuck in a building floating through space.
  • Brick Joke: Midway through the special, Heffer accidentally launches the rocket in Rocko's house early, causing it to fly off on its own. At the end of the special, it flies into the Conglom-O tower, sending it and Mr. Dupette rocketing into space.
  • Broad Strokes: The special is a direct sequel to the Grand Finale, "Future Schlock," but all the two have in common is Rocko's house getting launched into space with him, Heffer, Filburt and Spunky inside. Outside of the technology and trends, O-Town circa The New '10s isn't that much different from how it was in the The '90s, compared to the Raygun Gothic version from the last episode.
  • Butt-Monkey: Rocko himself, as usual, during the re-entry into O-Town after 20 years.
  • The Cameo: A whole bevy of recurring and minor characters make both speaking and non-speaking cameos, including, in order of appearance:
    • Captain Compost Heap from "Zanzibar!" (singing his "Spelling Song", a.k.a. "R-E-C-Y-C-L-E, Recycle")
    • Tammy the Pig
    • The bratty kid from "Jet Scream"
    • Peaches
    • The immigration official from "Kiss Me, I'm Foreign"
    • Mr. Noaway from "Teed Off" and "Magic Meatball"
    • The Hopping Hessian ("Yes!")
    • A Weasel Scout and the old lady from "Belch of Destiny"
    • The Cupid Pig from "Leap Frogs"
    • The sleazy dog bowl salesman from "Who Gives a Buck"
    • The elf family from "Rocko's Modern Christmas"
    • The Sad Crying Clown in an Iron Lung also from "Who Gives a Buck"
    • Napoleon's skeleton from "I See London, I See France"
    • Mr. Smitty (without his cigar)
    • Fruitcake Man from "Rocko's Modern Christmas"
    • George and Virginia Wolfe
    • Dr. Katz and his mop girlfriend
    • The sausage cult leader from "Schnit-heads"
    • The Wild Pig ("I'm a wild piiiig!")
    • Two-Patch Crappie Jack from "Fish-N-Chumps"
    • Frank Hutchinson (Hutch's estranged turtle father)
    • The creepy eye doctor from "Skid Marks"
    • Gordon the Foot
    • Crazy Aunt Gretchen
    • The Bighead Studios rhino tour guide from "I Have No Son!"
    • Buddy Gecko
    • Tiger, Hutch's old high school friend from "The Big Question"
    • Gladys the Big Hippo Lady ("How dare you!!!")
    • The giant mutant tooth from "Rinse & Spit"
    • Widow Hutchinson
    • Fran the Newscaster (who, after all these years, is revealed to not have not worn any pants under his desk)
    • Spike Hammerhead from "Spitballs"
    • Dr. Bendova from "Flu-In-U-Enza"
    • Peter Wolfe, although recolored, but still wearing his cheerleading uniform
    • Crod the Caveman from "Snowballs"
    • Bloaty and Squirmy
    • Dr. Phil the plumber from "Pipe Dreams"
    • The fat cat driving teacher from "Skid Marks" ("And God help you if you get the fat guy!")
    • The elephant driving instructor (mistaken by Rocko for "The Fat Guy") from "Skid Marks"
    • The flies caught in a spider web from "Canned" ("Hooray!!")
    • The sea mammal wife from "Rocko's Happy Sack"
    • The tough zit-faced Pizza Face Pizza boss from "Junk Junkies"
    • Wallace, the large, orange elephant who worked at Pizza Face Pizza from "Junk Junkies" and "S.W.A.K."
    • The incarcerated squirrel from "Skid Marks"
    • The beaver lifters ("Hup hup hup hup hup hup hup...")
    • Filburt's children, Gilburt, Missy, Norburt, and Shelburt
    • A live-action photo of writer and The Fatheads creator Mr. Lawrence can be seen in the background of the Fatheads reboot making a "gookie" face.
  • Characterization Marches On
    • Ralph Bighead, the once-curmudgeonly child of Ed and Bev, has found peace of mind and become much calmer after coming out as a transgender woman and changing her name to Rachel.
    • In the Show Within a Show, the title characters of The Fatheads now have a baby and their hijinks are less a bitter rant against the cartoonist's parents and a genuine celebration of their good times.
  • Character Outlives Actor: Kevin Meaney, who played Widow Hutchison, died in October 2016. As such, she only has a voiceless cameo.
  • Coming-Out Story: Ralph Bighead comes out as a transgender woman and now goes by Rachel Bighead. The latter of the special deals with her parents, particularly her father, reacting to the change.
  • Comic-Book Time: With the exception of Filburt's children (who are now adults), Grandpa Wolfe (shown as a ghost), and Rachel Bighead (who transitioned), none of the characters appear to have aged.
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Both Ed and Rocko have their moments.
    • Ed is the last to accept that his child is not a boy but rather a trans woman.
    • At the premiere of the Fatheads revival, the entire crowd is loving it... except Rocko, who's furious that the title characters now have a baby, meaning it's no longer the show he knows. Ed, who by this point has seen the error of his ways, tells Rocko that he can't live in the past like that.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • One of the pictures Rocko has around his house is Filb in his "Stuff-on-a-Stick" uniform from "Pranksters" and "Put Out to Pasture".
    • Among the items on Ed's office shelf is the half of the donut he broke with Rachel in "I Have No Son!"
    • Rocko's fridge has nothing but an empty jar of mayonnaise, most likely a reference to the "Mayonnaise" episode of "Wacky Delly".
    • Ed paraphrases his Arc Words from his child's introductory episode, "I Have No Son!!" as "I HAVE NO DAUGHTER!!" when he discovers that Ralph is now Rachel.
    • Filburt is excited about "sauce from Bora Bora", a reference to Filb's obsession with sauce seen in "Down the Hatch".
  • Continuity Porn: Among the items floating in space at the beginning include a jackhammer (Rocko's hobby), the Spank the Monkey board game (from "Gutter Balls"), the anthropomorphic food processor (from "Fatal Contraption"), G.I. Jimbo (from "Junk Junkies"), Turdie (from "Bye, Bye, Birdie"), and Filb's glow-in-the-dark diver's watch (from "Fish-N-Chumps", "Hey, Heff, ask me what time it is!"). Also, Spunky is seen chasing the big ball of slime from "Trash-o-Madness".
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Rocko's house was sent adrift through space for 20 years. It turns out the rocket it was attached to had a remote control that was wedged between Heffer's butt cheeks the whole time.
  • Cousin Oliver: Reconstruction. The Fathead baby is a new character that Rocko feels is a pointless addition. In reality, it's a reference to Rachel's childhood and helps her reconnect with Mr. Bighead.
  • Crawl: The news ticker during all of the reporting scenes always has some very amusing commentary.
  • Enemy Mine: Ed, who normally despises Rocko, fully cooperates with him trying to uncancel The Fatheads with no ulterior motives. Even when he begins acting irrational and drops out of the project, it has nothing to do with Rocko and everything to do with his stubbornness about his child's transition. He even ends up delivering the special's moral to Rocko after creating the new cartoon helps him reconnect with Rachel.
  • Expy: An In-Universe example, since the Fatheads are obviously based off of Ed and Bev Bighead, while Rachel Bighead bases the new baby Fathead off of herself.
  • Eye Scream: It wouldn't be Rocko without some, and sure enough we get a flashback of the newborn Ralph biting Ed's eyeball, to which he just laughs about his retina being broken. Rachel puts the same scene into the rebooted Fatheads, causing Ed to remember the good times with her and reconcile.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Seriously, how did Heffer not notice the remote control used to send the rocket back down to earth was stuck to his butt after twenty years?!
  • Follow in My Footsteps: Filburt and Paula's children took after them as they grew up. Gilbert and Shellbert are nerds like Filburt, and Missy and Norbert are doctors like Paula.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Rocko has difficulty adjusting to all the changes that have occurred on Earth during the 20 years he spent in space. In contrast, Heffer and Filburt embrace everything the 21st century has to offer and quickly adapt.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Before she outright confirms her transition, when Rocko and co. find Rachel, she has visible eyelashes and a bust, two things which stand out compared to how she appeared in flashbacks.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: In-universe when the characters see a Darker and Edgier Really Really Big Man movie in 3D; the effects are so real that they actually punch Rocko in the face.
  • Freudian Excuse: Rocko's exacerbated obsession with The Fatheads and his displeasure with the addition of Baby Fathead may be due to how his video of the original show (with literally only three episodes) was probably the only thing keeping him sane while stuck in space for 20 years.
  • The Future Is Shocking: Roughly half of the plot involves Rocko being so shocked by how different things are in The New '10s.
  • Gasshole: Again, it wouldn't be Rocko if there wasn't at least one fart joke.
    • At one point, Heff farts and blames it on too much kale salad.
    • Later, the Winds of Change farts, prompting the old joke that the wind "came out the wrong end".
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Considering the nature of the show, who wasn't expecting this?
    • Before the opening text crawl is cut off by Rocko's house crashing through it, it reads that Filbert's kids went missing when they got dropped off at the pool. "Dropping the kids off at the pool" is a euphemism for pooping.
    • Outside the O-Phone shop, one of the ads promotes the O-Watch, inviting the audience to "Look like a tool!"
    • The trio hit up a food truck which sells them "weiner tacos" and "taco tacos (inside another taco)" which can be pretty easily seen as analogs to reproductive organs.
    • When Rocko is channel surfing for episodes of The Fatheads, the first thing he comes across is a show with a hillbilly rabbit couple surrounded by a lot of baby rabbits. The father says that he "doesn't know where [all the kids] came from" and that the mother "must have been busy", to which the mother giggles and says that she has been busy.
    • Spunky has discovered mop porn on the internet, and also orders 20 mops from an Amazon Prime-esque delivery service. The delivery man calls Rocko a "sicko" for Spunky ordering them.
    • Buried in the collection of Rachel's postcards is a nude photo of Ed.
    • On Rocko, Filburt and Heffer's journey to find the original creator of The Fatheads, they ask what turns out to be a nude elephant woman bathing while her backside is being brushed by a monkey. The elephant freaks out over being spied on while bathing and Heffer even takes a picture before the three leave.
    • The grand return of Chokey Chicken.
    • Really Really Big Man's Nipples of the Future serve a somewhat important plot point.
    • Bev tells Ed that a popsicle looks like him in the morning, then passionately licks on it.
  • Grand Finale: This special ties up all the loose ends of the show and wraps up everyone’s character arcs.
  • Hero of Another Story: In the opening, Big Man is about to tell the audience about what happened to Filburt’s kids after they launched Rocko, Heffer, Filburt and Spunky into space, but the rocket crashes the text before he can.
  • Hollywood Mirage: Fried chicken dancing with pizza slices around an orange soda fountain.
  • I Am Not Weasel: Throughout the special, Rocko is mistaken for a beaver (by Grandpa Wolfe as usual, and by Nosey), a mouse (by Mr. Dupette), and a dog (by the cowboy), no matter how many times Rocko tells them he is a wallaby.
  • "I Am" Song: "I Am Edward Bighead," sung by Ed Bighead as he drives home from work.
  • Irony: Despite being the one who proposed the Fatheads reboot in the first place and being its biggest advocate, Rocko is the only one unsatisfied with the final product.
  • Job-Stealing Robot: Kind-of-a-Lot-O-Comics, the store where Rocko used to work, now consists of an instant-print kiosk and appears to have no physical employees.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The special, which brings back a 20-year-old-cartoon to satisfy nostalgic fans, has the exceptionally meta plot of... a character trying to bring back a 20-year-old cartoon to satisfy his nostalgia.
  • Long-Lost Uncle Aesop: "The Winds of Change," a sentient cloud who shows up near the end of the special to impart the moral about accepting change.
  • This Loser Is You: Rocko, like most stereotypical hardcore cartoon fans, goes on a pedantic rant about how minor changes in the Fatheads reboot ruins the whole thing.
  • Medium-Shift Gag: Nosey rewards all the viewers not reading the chyron jokes at the bottom with live-action Stock Footage of a furry badger.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Downplayed, but Bev is drawn with cleavage for the first time. She also appears to have gotten a butt lift and mentions to Virginia Wolfe that she "got a little work done."
  • Mythology Gag:
    • A monkey, rhino, and elephant in India resemble Lazlo, Clam and Raj from Joe Murray's second animated series, Camp Lazlo.
    • The Fatheads tape Rocko and crew watch in space has an orange shell, similar to the classic Nickelodeon VHS tapes produced in the 90s and 2000s (as opposed to the black shells VHS tapes typically have). The thumbnail on Netflix is, itself, an orange VHS.
    • The Winds of Change's ringtone is the season one Rocko theme.
    • Spunky is into mop porn, a reference to the season one episode "Clean Lovin'".
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: Nosey has gone from a talk show host to a news reporter.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Rocko himself has a very difficult time adjusting to his new life in the 21st century, and even after his favorite cartoon, The Fatheads, is finally brought back after 20 years, he still doesn't get used to the changes Rachel has added to it. It takes Ed Bighead of all people to help Rocko realize that he has to stop living in the past.
  • Off-Model:
    • Peter Wolfe, who was blue in the original series, is now colored pink for some reason. Although given how Peter is Ambiguously Gay, this might have been intentional.
    • In-universe, Rocko tells Rachel that her Fathead Pops don't look much like the Fatheads. She shrugs and says that they're Off-Model, but they sell.
    • When Heff asks for change for a five, his suspenders turn red instead of purple.
  • Older Than They Look: Pretty much all the characters in the special look the same, with only Filburt's children showing obvious changes in age, despite 20 years having passed.
  • One Steve Limit: A Conglom-O employee is named Nineman, but another Nineman working at Conglom-O was portrayed as a pig in "Magic Meatball". The Nineman in the special is some sort of lizard.
  • Opening Shout-Out: The sequence where Rocko, Heffer, and Filburt discover the 21st century has some nods to the original theme song. It starts with them peering through a bush surrounded by flies as the theme song begins; then, when all of the future shock is getting to Rocko, a giant hand flicks him off-screen towards a neon sign reading "Reboot" (as opposed to the original opening, where it read "Real World"). As he's chased back into his house by symbols of modernity, he runs past giant versions of several characters, but unlike the original version, where they merely stared at him, here they all try to whack him with signs which have "Like" buttons on them.
  • Open-Minded Parent: Bev is much more accepting about Rachel having come out as a woman than Ed initially was.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Inevitably, Grandpa Wolfe is no longer with us and is stuck in purgatory as a floating ghost. He refuses to believe he's dead, continuing to complain about everything and occasionally possess garden gnomes.
  • Parents as People: Ed does still really love Rachel, but he is too overwhelmed by her transitioning due to all the problems he is dealing with.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: At first, Ed isn't too thrilled to find out that his kid is transgender, since he is dealing with other changes at the moment and hasn’t her in years. Once he sees Rachel's Fatheads cartoon and realizes she's still the same child he raised on the inside, he starts to come around.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Rocko attempts this on Rachel when requesting The Fatheads back. It doesn't work.
  • Resigned to the Call: Rachel had no interest in doing more Fathead cartoons, until Rocko said Ed and Bev were going to lose their house. After the argument with Ed, Rachel walks back out the door, but seeing an old family photo in her truck convinces her to make the cartoon.
  • Retcon: The special picks up where the original series left off, with Rocko, Heffer and Filburt stuck in space with a rocket in the middle of their house at the end of “Future Schlock”. However, nothing else from that specific episode is referenced, the way the characters got into space in the first place is different from what was previously shown (the rocket was apparently launched by Rocko, Heffer and Filburt themselves rather than piloted by Filburt's children), and present day O-Town looks nothing like the "futuristic" version seen in the episode.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Rocko says that the Fathead ice cream he bought doesn't look like Mr. Fathead. The ice cream vendor says that's because it's Mrs. Fathead. Then we see that the vendor is the Bighead's trans daughter.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Straw Fan: Rocko is depicted as far more obsessed with The Fatheads than in previous episodes, and strongly objects to the creator's decision to add a baby Fathead simply because the original show never had one. Though his obsession is more the result of him unable to cope with the 20 years of changes in his absence and subconsciously anchoring to the show as a form of stability.
  • Stylistic Suck: The Chameleon Brothers' attempt at rebooting The Fatheads with cheap, ugly CG animation, bad voice acting, and cheap music and sound effects.
  • Suddenly Voiced: The little red and yellow elf, who was mute in "Rocko's Modern Christmas" and only represented musically by the clarinet, cheers along with Mitch when Mr. Dupette thanks "all the little people".
  • Take That!: Again, it wouldn’t be Rocko without any social commentary.
    • There is a Buzzbucks (the Starbucks Expy) on every corner. Even a Buzzbucks next to a Buzzbucks.
    • Energy drinks are radioactive.
    • Heffer and Filburt buy the latest mobile phone...which is immediately rendered obsolete as soon as they leave the store. They just buy the new phones with minimal complaint.
    • The 3-D Really Really Big Man film is a Darker and Edgier take, a swipe at the DC Extended Universe films, with the titular character having an excessively gravelly voice.
    • The trio tries a variety of "food porn" tacos such as pizza tacos, hot dog tacos, and a taco inside a taco. Rocko winds up getting sick from the combination of different foods.
    • Conglom-O declares bankruptcy, yet the CEO has a golden toilet and it's revealed later on that there was several tons of treasure stashed inside the building.
    • Rocko is declared a celebrity just for wanting a revival of The Fatheads, then when he fails to live up to the ridiculously high standards of the people, he's publicly vilified.
    • The Fatheads was originally going to be revived with extremely cheap and dated CG animation instead of the more fluid hand-drawn animation that was eventually used. The end result is the Fatheads looking like a couple of clunky piles of clay.
    • Transphobia and toxic fandoms are treated as being equally idiotic at worst or misguided at best.
    • The Fatheads ice creams poke fun at branded ice creams with gumball eyes, which tend to be infamously Off-Model because of cheap production, despite the ice creams themselves tasting good.
    • Chokey Chicken is now vegan and GMO free, due to people in the 21st century being more concerned about eating healthy food. Not that it’s a bad thing, though.
    • One of the news tickers reads: "'That Wasn't Technically a Reboot But the Signnote  Said "Reboot"', States Pedantic Jerk on the Internet."
    • The scene where Rocko is flipping through channels to try to find The Fatheads features a hillbilly rabbit family similar to Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, poking fun at white trash reality shows.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: In-universe. Rocko has this reaction to the new Fatheads special after seeing that a new character was added.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Rocko of all people becomes this near the end of the special. When Rachel finally airs the Meet the Fatheads after so long and spending the whole special whining about it, Rocko is the only one who disapproves of the minor change of adding in a new infant to the cartoon and vociferously deprecates this to the citizens. This is thankfully averted at the end when Rocko decides to just deal with the addition after Ed Bighead chides him for living in the past and convinces him to embrace the changes in the modern world.
  • Unwitting Instigators of Doom: Rocko and his friends' noisy re-entry to Earth ends up distracting Ed to the point where he botches a profit report that bankrupts Conglom-O and all of O-Town, setting up the plot of the special.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Mrs. Bighead keeps her postcards from Rachel in her bosom.
  • Vocal Evolution: As it has been over 20 years since the last time Rocko was in production, the whole voice cast naturally goes through this. Notably, while Carlos Alazraqui and Doug Lawrence sound pretty much the same as their characters now, Tom Kenny and Charlie Adler sound somewhat different as their characters here than they did in the original series.
  • Vocal Dissonance:
    • Despite transitioning, Rachel Bighead still has the same deep voice she had before. Truth in Television, as medical transition does not affect one's vocal cords. Some choose to take vocal training, some disguise their voices, some get surgery, but some opt out of either.
    • Really Really Big Man at the beginning of the special, for some reason, has a feminine voice, before clearing his throat and switching to his normal voice.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: A staple of the original series, this happens when Rocko gets food poisoning from the taco truck, and turns away from the camera to puke.
  • Wham Line: "I'm not Ralph anymore. (takes off her cap, revealing feminine hair, revealing she transitioned) I'm Rachel."
  • Wild Take: It wouldn't be Rocko without some good classic Avery and Clampett-style eye-popping takes.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report