J.G. Quintel’s new animated series matures quickly and ambitiously.
Animator J.G. Quintel was known for his hit Cartoon Network show “Regular Show,” which provided a 80s-90s nostalgia, delivered adult humor, and energetic fantasies. I’ll never forget a gag, when two characters wear peanut butter and jelly on bread outfits, make out inside a giant paper bag, and basically drop loads of peanut butter and jelly. To me, that went way too far in a children’s cartoon, although I’m convinced it was made more for teenagers and adults, which is why I thought that was hilarious.
Now, Quintel has stepped up his game by creating an adult cartoon with a similar vein and style as “Regular Show,” called “Close Enough,” which just made it to HBO Max, after 3 years of being shelved. While the former involved a blue jay and raccoon being slacking groundskeepers, the latter involves a young couple, their little girl, and divorced friends living in an LA apartment complex. And like the former, the latter has them in one crazy situation after another, all of which start off as normal days.
The couple are the video game designer Josh (voiced by Quintel) and the food company assistant Emily (voiced by Gabrielle Walsh); their little girl is the energetic Candice (voiced by Jessica DiCicco), and their divorced friends are the community college teacher Alex (voiced by Jason Mantzoukas) and the social media nut Bridgette (voiced by Kimiko Glenn). And the other residents include the landlord-an ex-cop named Pearle (voiced by Danielle Brooks)-and her adoptive son Randy (voiced by James Adomian).
I really admire how the animation in both “Regular Show” and “Close Enough” is traditionally animated in the old fashioned style without succumbing to the modernized technique. The drawings and textures are able to adapt to the bizarre fantasies and comical behaviors. And the voice actors (particularly Quintel, Walsh, DiCicco, Mantzoukas, and Glenn) are able to match their characters’ emotions and flexibilities.
Quintel is able to transcend from children’s entertainment to adult animation unlike John Kricfalusi, who destroyed “Ren & Stimpy” with his Adult Party Cartoon. It doesn’t go “South Park” or “Rick & Morty” far by cutting out the F-bombs, but the jokes are dirty enough to tickle you. And yet, at the same time, it’s not gross or mean-spirited.
So far, 15 episodes have been released on HBO Max. A few episodes don’t work that much, and when some characters explode (not the “Ready or Not” explosion, but the normal fire explosions), they feel too forced and labored. But when you get through those negatives, you’ll find enough laughs and nostalgia to hope for Season 2. And don’t get me started on how the last episode pays tribute to Jim Carrey’s hit movies.
Available on HBO Max