Gravitas Ventures has released the first trailer for the Ren & Stimpy documentary Happy Happy Joy Joy, which explores the rise and fall of the cartoon’s controversial creator John Kricfalusi.
Directors Ron Cicero and Kimo Eastwood take a fair and balanced look at the troubling allegations surrounding Kricfalusi while also paying tribute to his greatest creation — Ren & Stimpy. The iconic animated series saw Kricfalusi celebrated as a visionary, and while his eccentric personality was certainly synonymous with the show, the fact remains that dozens of artists and network executives were just as responsible for its meteoric rise.
There’s no doubt that Cicero and Eastwood have made an impressive directorial debut here, having each worked in electrician production jobs over the years. Though I think the documentary waits a little too long to address the elephant in the room — namely, that Kricfalusi used his position of power to take advantage of young women — the filmmakers do a great job of explaining Kricfalusi’s creative genius and what made Ren & Stimpy so special.
The documentary also explores the extent to which Kricfalusi’s reputation has threatened to taint the show. Suffice to say, it’s hard to separate the art from the artist in this case, and Ren & Stimpy is unlikely to be revived by a responsible network anytime soon. It’s a shame, because I grew up watching the show and reveling in its scatalogical humor.
As pop culture expert Chris Gore notes in this trailer, Ren & Stimpy went on to influence pretty much every animated series that’s currently popular right now, including Rick and Morty and Bojack Horseman. So if you’re curious about what came before those two shows, and what brought Ren & Stimpy to an abrupt end, watch the trailer for Happy Happy Joy Joy below.
Gravitas will release the documentary on Aug. 14.