The CIA sets out to stop the nefarious plans of T.F. Kurtis, the star of a popular children’s puppet show. Once one of the most outstanding educators America has ever produced, Kurtis has now gone rogue. He plans on using his power and influence to corrupt America’s youth. Only one thing stands in his way, that bad motherfucker known as Black Dynamite!
When The Boondocks began airing on Cartoon Network in the fall of 2005, many fans felt it a poor representation of the highly acclaimed (and controversial) comic strip. The show seemed to eschew sly political and social commentary for shock humor and excessive use of the N-Word. Well, fans of Black Dynamite likely won’t have the same complaints about its animated counterpart. If anything, the pilot episode of Black Dynamite: The Animated Series remains fiercely faithful to the films whacky spirit, taking it’s shtick to downright surreal lengths.
The animation is not in the same vein as that which accompanied the films ending credits. The character designs are much more stylized, with sharp angles, exaggerated poses and facial expressions. Those extremes go a long way in compensating for the obviously minimal frame rates. The same can be said for the shot selection, which handily conceals the limited animation.
The film was able to use its limitations to its advantage. Michael Jai White actually wrote many of the more obvious “mistakes” into the script, giving the film a “meta” feel that added to the hilarity. The cartoon can afford no such luxury, opting to use its milieu to place the films premise in an alternate universe that arguably suits it a bit better.
The humor is every bit as trippy as the visuals, indulging in a wide range of slapstick vulgarity. It references all the hallmarks of the film. Black Dynamites sexual prowess is displayed, as are flashbacks to his childhood (he even had the black porn star mustache as a kid). Bullhorn’s status as a poor man’s Rudy Ray Moore in fully intact. The jokes are downright shocking in just how far they down the rabbit hole they go, to the point where Black Dynamite may just rival The Boondocks in that regard. However, the shtick doesn’t feel as forced in the former since it doesn’t take itself as seriously as the latter, though there is a bit of sly commentary in regards to kids shows being used as tools for propaganda. The principal actors from the film reprise their roles as voice actors in the cartoon, making for a nice sense of continuity between the film and its animated spin off.
The best element of the show is the music. Instead of simply porting over the theme from the film, the animated series features an original composition playing over the opening credits. It’s just as good as anything on the film’s soundtrack. The same can be said about T.F. Kurtis’s number. As silly as it is, it’s also undeniably funky. It’s also a parody of the kinds of songs that often populated kid’s shows on public access television during the 1970’s.
The pilot episode of Black Dynamite: The Animated Series is bugged out and insane, and ultimately amusing. It got a few belly laughs from me, and is a nice little addition to the growing universe of its hilarious central character. Michael Jai White has created a character whose shadow may ultimately prove impossible to escape from. As Willy Wonka once famously said, “A little nonsense now and then is valued by the wisest men.”