Cartoon Network usually doesn’t deal with human performers, content to leave the humans to be mere spectators. It is called Cartoon Network for a reason.

Besides, real humans require trailers, hair and makeup, handlers and food, while cartoons do what you draw them to do. Nevertheless, the cable channel took a risk with these fleshy beings and hired some for its first original live-action/animated movie Re-Animated (airing Friday, Dec. 8).

Not to worry that this made the movie all boring and realistic though, because some of these humans are a lot wackier than their cel animated co-stars.

Poor Jimmmy Roberts (Dominic Janes) is about as human as you can get for a 12-year-old. His mother is an astronaut who’s always wearing some sort of regulation space gear, his dad is always hopped up on sugar and acts like an irresponsible toddler, and his adopted sister is green because she’s an Alien American.

On top of being rather normal in this bizarre family, Jimmy has a huge failing: he can’t say no. This pushover is always being taken advantage of, even by his best friend Craig (Micah Karns), whose big sister Robin (Eunice Cho) is the object of Jimmy’s unrequited affection.

On a school field trip to Gollyworld, Jimmy has a freak accident, requiring an emergency brain transplant. Naturally, the only brain on hand belongs to old-time cartoon animator and Gollyworld founder Milt Appleday (Fred Willard), whose brain was put on ice when he died in the late ’70s. With the new (old) brain in place, held securely by some strips of gauze wrapped around his head, Jimmy is as good as new. In fact, he has this new ability: to see all of Milt’s cartoon creations walking and talking in everyday life.

Now Jimmy’s torn between his cartoon pals, who’ve helped him assert himself and get Robin’s attention, and his real-life friends. Worse yet, Milt Appleday’s son Sonny (Matt Knudsen) has become the Roberts’ house guest, and schemes to steal his dad’s brain straight ouf of Jimmy’s head. Sonny also has other issues, like having only one friend — a bag of money he calls Mittens.

Naturally, this movie has shades of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Cool World, but without the overt sex appeal. It’s not a bad effort on Cartoon Network’s part, and kids will probably sympathize with Jimmy’s plight (and if you’re an older, frustrated male writer, you’ve probably lived it figuratively).

As a human myself, I have to take issue with the way most of the humans were depicted: Everyone is so selfish, especially that little snot Craig, who is supposed to be Jimmy’s friend, which makes his manipulating ways unforgivable. If only someone would drop a cartoon anvil on his head.

Posted by:Hanh Nguyen