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Lions Gate presents
The Ripping Friends (Volumes 1 & 2) (2001)

"It's ripping time!"
- The Ripping Friends

Review By: Brian Calhoun   
Published: June 20, 2002

Stars: Mike MacDonald, Michael Anthony Kerr, Merwin Mondesir, Harvey Atkin
Other Stars: Miriam McDonald, John Kricfalusi
Director: Various

Manufacturer: Advanced Media Post
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some mature humor, some intense images)
Run Time: 01h:21m:26s
Release Date: May 07, 2002
UPC: 031398800323
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B+B+A- B-

DVD Review

From John Kricfalusi, the creator of Ren & Stimpy, comes another cartoon of madcap lunacy. Fans of Kricfalusi's work are sure to find delight in The Ripping Friends, which follows the adventures of four dim-witted but physically adept superheroes. While not as overtly entertaining as Ren & Stimpy, The Ripping Friends packs a heavy punch to the funny bone. It is not stuffed to the gills with nonstop laughter, but there are more than just a few big laughs in every episode. Put simply, this is bizarre, nonsensical, giddy entertainment. Best of all, The Ripping Friends offers a style of humor that transcends age barriers. Children and adults alike will enjoy the quirky animation and frequently laugh out loud at its brashness.

The Ripping Friends are not the average group of superheroes. They consist of Crag (Harvey Atkin), Rip (Mike MacDonald), Chunk (Michael Anthony Kerr), and Slab (Merwin Mondesir), all of who possess a ripping physique but a significant lack of brains. These four bumbling hardbodies are led by Mom (AKA He-Mom), a crusty and saggy old hag who insists on being addressed as "Sir!" Also joining the friends is Jimmy, a moronic sidekick who has been cloned from each of The Ripping Friends' DNA as an attempt to create a "perfect" being. Ironically, Jimmy is about as imperfect as humanly possible. Constant drooling and the inability to form a coherent sentence are two of his stronger suits. Together, the Friends dwell in Rip-Cot, the tallest skyscraper in Haplessville, where they await the next chance to use their ripping strength in an attempt to save the world.

The show is not so much a spoof on superheroes as it is a jab at "manly" bodybuilding types. The implied statements regarding the intelligence level and even the sexual orientation of these "men" is not terribly subtle, but it is all very tongue-in-cheek and executed tastefully. There is nothing one could find dreadfully offensive about this style of humor, but I figure it is only a matter of time before this too becomes politically incorrect. Someone is bound to start complaining sooner or later, so enjoy it while it lasts.

The four episodes are as follows:

Episode 1: The Indigestible Wad

"This new X-ray machine is powered by cosmic rays. This is the first time I've used it. Probably nothing will go wrong, so don't worry." - Dentist

The first episode of The Ripping Friends wastes no time with fruitless character introductions, but rather jumps right into the action. Tracy has been chewing the same piece of gum her entire life and even refuses to spit it out while sitting in a dentist chair. This proves to be a deadly mistake when X-ray radiation transmutes her gum into a super human wad with a life all its own. Bent on destroying the human race, the wad pillages through humans' mouths and sucks out their saliva, generating more power for himself but leaving its victims zombies. It is up to The Ripping Friends to save the day, but are they clever enough to defeat The Indigestible Wad? This episode is a delight to behold, and my favorite of the four. The show's fundamentally odd humor is used to the fullest extent. For example, when Chunk's brawl with the wad renders him a heap of stale gum, The Ripping Friends coat him in powdered sugar as an attempt to add flavor back into his life. Humor simply does not get any more peculiar than this. I do not believe there is a soul alive who has not been irritated beyond belief after stepping on a piece of discarded gum. The Indigestible Wad elevates the concept of this irritation further than I could ever imagine by showing a nefarious wad of gum terrorizing an entire nation. This is wicked fun.

The Indigestible Wad hardens into 4.5 out of 5 bulging biceps.





Episode 2: The Infernal Wedding

Mom: What is the first and last word out of your mouths when you address me?!
The Ripping Friends: Sir! Yes sir! Mom sir!

This is the first episode to introduce The Ripping Friends' biological mother and drill sergeant, Mom. In this delectable outing, Mom finds romance with Anton, who is actually The Ripping Friends' arch-enemy, Citracett. When Mom and Anton exchange wedding vows, The Ripping Friends have to learn to live with Citracett as their stepfather. Under Mom's strict orders, The Ripping Friends do whatever it takes to please dear old Dad, but Citracett furtively uses his duplicity and the dim-witted nature of The Ripping Friends to devise a plot to destroy the world! This is another fun-filled affair, though I did not enjoy it as much as I did The Indigestible Wad. The same style of eccentric humor dominates this episode, but the subtle political references tend to undermine the light-hearted essence of the show. The most enjoyable portion of this installment is an opening interlude that shows how The Ripping Friends achieve their tolerance for pain. This is hilarious, but may be inappropriate for viewers under 10. Parents should escort the kiddies out of the room before they enjoy this laugh riot.

I now pronounce this episode 3 bulging biceps.





Episode 3: Flathead's Revenge

"These little fellas are so primitive, they can't even suck." - Crag

While swimming in a small river, Chunk finds a parasitic worm attached to his underarm. After The Ripping Friends remove the worm, they begin to taunt it as a lowly spineless organism. The worm is quite disheartened, and hatches an insidious plot to spawn a worm army that will steal humans' backbones and eventually rule the world. This episode contains the most graphic humor yet, featuring visual events that I care not to discuss even on the written page. Does this mean that the episode is too vulgar to be humorous? Absolutely not! Flathead's Revenge contains the offbeat style of humor that I found so appealing in The Indigestible Wad while pushing the boundaries of tasteful humor to the extreme. Once again, this may be a bit too intense for younger viewers. For the rest of us, it is a hoot to watch The Ripping Friends square off against an army of tiny, parasitic worms. Overall, this is a great episode that contains enough laughter to consider it the work of a comic genius. The icing on the cake is another hysterical short skit that appears at the end of the episode. This time, The Ripping Friends wreak havoc on a cereal company for including lackluster prizes in their cereal boxes. For some strange reason, I found myself fully relating to The Ripping Friends' perturbation, agreeing that cereal prizes have greatly diminished in value over the past 20 years. Then I remembered that the prizes have not changed, I have simply grown up! Oh, the irony of getting old! This is yet another rip-roaring event from The Ripping Friends.

Dig to the bottom of the cereal box and find 4.5 bulging biceps.





Episode 4: Frictor

"My stubble! I'm... smooth?!" - Rip

The Ripping Friends find something wrong with Jimmy. Instead of rough and grizzled man hands like they have, his hands are smooth and girly! Always trying to be helpful, The Ripping Friends devise a way to donate some of their excess "friction" to Jimmy through a dangerous scientific experiment. When the experiment goes terribly wrong (no thanks to Jimmy's incompetence), a horrible monster named Frictor is created from The Ripping Friends' combined friction. Frictor is my least favorite episode of the four, which is certainly not to say that it is unfavorable. There are several giant laughs, particularly when Rip is de-frictionized as Frictor removes his manly facial stubble. A subplot involving a pair of eggs who beg to be removed from a burning frying pan practically brought me to joyous tears. Unfortunately, the laughs are too few and far between this time around, and I also did not enjoy the story of Frictor as much as the other three episodes. Nevertheless, Frictor is still one of the most fantastically unique events I have witnessed in a long while.

I give Frictor a modestly masculine 3 bulging biceps.







Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: As is the case with many animated DVDs, the picture is incredibly smooth. The overall aesthetic is nearly three-dimensional. Colors are beautifully saturated and exhibit eye-popping vibrancy. The downside to the image quality is the subtle yet noticeable video deficiencies. Jagged edges are often evident, particularly during quick motion pans. While not bothersome, this distracts from what is otherwise a gorgeous transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Fidelity on the Dolby stereo soundtrack is cleaner than many other digital stereo tracks I have heard. Most impressive is the audible lack of compression, almost as if the soundtrack is PCM rather than digital. Music and sound effects flow through the soundstage with wide stereo separation. Bass, while not terribly deep, is impressively strong and well defined even at lower listening levels. With surround decoding on, the action remains locked in the center channel while the front left and right speakers continue to breathe expansively. I am quite pleased with the apparent effort gone into creating a satisfying audio experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu
Scene Access with 4 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 TV Spots/Teasers
Storyboard
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: While not over flowing with special features, The Ripping Friends DVD cuts to the chase and offers exactly what animation fans want to see. Sure, there could have been many more special features, including multiple documentaries and a commentary track, but these would have been inappropriate for a cartoon predominately geared towards children.

The storyboard section, albeit brief, is a perfect feature that offers delightful insight into the animating process, containing multiple storyboards for a select scene from all four episodes. The finished scene is presented in a large window box center screen, surrounded by six different storyboards that served as its basis. Although these storyboards change automatically rather fast, there is the ability to pause or view them frame by frame at any time. I have my usual complaint with the miniature size of the storyboards; otherwise, this section serves as an interesting and often humorous look at this important portion of the developmental stage.

As seems to be standard practice on Lion's Gate releases, the trailer is cryptically nestled within an elusive icon called Lion's Gate Home Entertainment. The trailer appears to be a television promotional spot, introducing viewers to the yet-to-be-aired Ripping Friends. Running just over 30 seconds, the trailer is succinct and effective.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

From the sidesplitting adventures of The Indigestible Wad to the gross-out gags of Flathead's Revenge, The Ripping Friends provides zany entertainment for children ages 10 to 110. I am glad to see these first four episodes given admirable treatment on DVD, and I look forward to future episodes.

 


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