"Jetsons: The Movie" may be the nuttiest entry yet in an already nutty summer movie season. A feature-length version of the popular Hanna-Barbera cartoon series, it's an elaborate social critique done in cartoon terms -- a combination of Care Bears and "Das Kapital." And for what it's worth, it comes closer to having an actual cultural vision than any other movie of the summer.
That doesn't mean it's good, mind you, but for kiddies it's colorful and bouncy at least, and for adults it's weird enough to keep you open-mouthed with disbelief. The film, which is shot in the bland, one-dimensional animation style that earned William Hanna and Joseph Barbera their reputation as butchers of the animator's art, presents the most improbable of situations. It seems that George Jetson's employer, Cosmo Spacely, is a capitalist oppressor, a ranting Donald Trump figure who runs Spacely Sprockets with robust disregard for its effects on the ecosystem. Because of his unenlightened management style, a Spacely factory on a faraway Third World asteroid is the target of sabotage from a gang of cuddly, Ewoklike terrorists called Grunchees, whose indigenous cultural life is threatened by the plant's mining activities.
To solve these operational problems, Spacely needs a man who's, well, expendable, and no one is more so than the hapless George. The Jetson family -- wife Jane, daughter Judy, boy Elroy and, of course, Astro the dog -- are far from happy to learn that their lives are being uprooted, but they adjust quickly to their new environment, making new friends of both the furry and the mechanized variety.
Shortly after their arrival, though, George is abducted by the teddy bear rebels and, eventually, is won over to their way of thinking. What this makes us witness to is the political awakening of a cartoon character -- certainly a first.
With George's help, the Grunchees negotiate a co-ownership deal with Spacely that sets up a kind of cartoon Sweden, whereby the employees run the plant and take a share of profits. Plus, a plan is worked out so that the sprockets can now be made from old, worn-out parts that have been recycled. As a result the Grunchees smile brightly as they work their assembly line jobs, Spacely is happy, George is happy -- heck, the whole universe is happy. And haven't we learned bunches about ourselves and how to cooperate and live in peace? "Jetsons: The Movie" is nothing less than a master plan for Utopia. Your children may never be the same.