Fanboy & Chum Chum: Brain Freeze
by Jef Burnham
Available August 16, 2011 on DVD from Nickelodeon.
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I’ll start by informing you that I went into Brain Freeze blind, knowing nothing about and having previously seen none of Fanboy and Chum Chum. But the premise of the series is that best friends Fanboy and Chum Chum, who perpetually don super hero outfits and reside in a high tech tree house, are sci-fi/fantasy “super fans”… or so I’ve read. Because you certainly don’t get that from the episodes in this compilation. This is because the seven episodes collected in Brain Freeze revolve exclusively around Fanboy and Chum Chum’s obsession with their local Freezy Mart convenience store’s Frosty Freezy Freeze drinks. The plot of each episode correspondingly hinges on the Freezy Mart and its signature drink in one way or another. As a result, the singular focus of this compilation makes for a decidedly tedious experience that is, no doubt, a poor introduction to series that has potential. Evidencing this assumption is “Norse-ing Around,” the final episode in the collection in which the duo discover a viking in their freezer, which points to the wealth of possibilities inherent in the concept. Still, having seen no episodes other than those collected here, I can’t say for certain that the series really has much else to offer.
There are some chuckles to be had here for sure, but, perhaps as a result of the aforementioned tedium of the set, most of the humor falls flat. What’s worse, the first (and longest) episode in the set, “Brain Freeze” is an embarrassingly confident ripoff of The Hangover complete with a guy locked in a trunk and closing photo montage of the characters’ wacky night. This is not to say that it’s all bad of course, for I at least found myself compelled to watch the entire set in one sitting, The best episode of the lot finds Freezy Mart employee Lenny repeatedly going back in time in an attempt to prevent Fanboy and Chum Chum from discovering their beloved Frosty Freezy Freeze. And try though Lenny might, he just can’t orchestrate prevent the fated union of these two with the FFF.
The episodes vary in length from 10 to 20 minutes, with “Brain Freeze” sadly being the only episode to clock in at 20. Unfortunately, because “Brain Freeze” is the titular centerpiece of this collection, the episodes are collected here out of order to accommodate its inclusion at the opening. As a result, Fanboy and Chum Chum are shown interacting with a character in “Brain Freeze” who they are apparently meeting for the first time in the second episode.
From what I’ve seen of the series in this set, it seems to me to be a slightly above average children’s program, but one that I personally (as an adult who enjoys animation a great deal) wouldn’t go out of my way to seek out on the basis of this release alone. But if you’ve a child who discovers and enjoys Fanboy and Chum Chum, they could certainly do much worse.
The total running time for the seven episodes is 88 minutes, and the release includes an original “Brain Freeze” animatic, consisting of a storyboard-to-screen comparison.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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