Only a week after releasing Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling, Netflix has revived another beloved Nickelodeon show: Invader Zim.
While its original run lasted less than two seasons, this strange, often nightmarish cartoon about a boy’s ongoing battle with a maniacal space alien was special enough to merit a reboot almost 20 years after it went out of production. And like Static Cling before it, Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus proves more than just a rehash.
The film opens with our young hero, Dib Membrane (Andy Berman), out of sorts. The nefarious Zim (Richard Steven Horvitz) has disappeared, but ever-vigilant Dib suspects the little green man isn’t gone for good. After an indeterminate time spent in front of the surveillance monitors in his room, Dib’s neglected body has grown “smelly and useless,” prompting Zim’s reappearance. Turns out the alien was just hiding in the bathroom, waiting for Dib’s physical decline to put a multiphase evil plan into action.
As the premise suggests, Enter the Florpus trades on the same cocktail of bizarreness mixed with abject stupidity that made the TV show such a wonder. Invader Zim was—and still is—one of the darkest cartoons to air on Nickelodeon, but its use of idiocy as a counterbalance ensured a ton of laughs. It’s much the same here, but Enter the Florpus was clearly designed to be something like the ending the show never got. There’s less focus on gags and episodic real-world satire and more energy put into making an eye-popping grand finale.
That’s not a bad thing, just a little different. The result is a bit more accessible for new audiences, too, which can be a great thing (unless you’re snooty about your cult classics).
Enter the Florpus hits plenty of the right notes and brings a welcome dose of nostalgia for fans of the show. The jokes that really land are laugh-out-loud funny, with the robot GIR (Rosearik Rikki Simons) cementing his legacy as one of fiction’s greatest, dumbest characters. The visuals, always ahead of their time, are stunning even on a small screen. They only get better as the movie goes on and Zim puts Earth on a collision course with other dimensions. And the sort-of annoyed mania Dib exhibits toward his oblivious human peers feels weirdly contemporary. Enter the Florpus doesn’t skip a beat and, while leaving some wiggle room for future outings, gives the series a worthy and much-deserved conclusion.
So consider that back-to-back wins for Nickflix. Constant reboots can get tiresome, but when you get quality, how can anyone complain? And as the credits roll on Enter the Florpus, you can’t help but want more of the old magic.
Give us Rocket Power, Netflix. What’s the Doug crew up to? Make Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Movie. And for the love of all that is good and pure in this world, reboot Angry Beavers!
Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus
Director: Jenny Goldberg and Jake Wyatt
Starring: Richard Steven Horvitz, Rikki Simons, Andy Berman
Theater: Netflix, streaming now