(Movie Review by Dan MacIntosh) You may approach Gumby: The Movie with some trepidation, and rightly so. After all, that little green glob of clay might represent a memorable period in your early television watching days. And who would ever want to stain such a sacred viewing landmark? The good news is this Gumby revisit does not replace the Play-Do boy we’ve grown to know and love with a new and (not) improved modern version. He’s still that same old friend with the bellbottom legs.
Art Clokey’s involvement insures that this Gumby update stays true to the character’s original image and behavioral characteristics. Clokey, who created Gumby in the first place, wrote the film with his wife Gloria and also directed it. Furthermore, Gloria wrote the lyrics to every vocal song in the film. So even though Gumby is relatively modernized as a pseudo-heavy metal guitar hero, along with his band The Clayboys, he’s still the same innocent adventurer, along with his pal Pokey that first introduced many of us to cartoon glory. The only obvious change I noticed was that his eyes are now bigger, with black dots against a white oval, rather than the yellow circles of olden days.
Nevertheless, it’s easy to see why the Mystery Science Theater guys once picked on a Gumby episode for one of their shorts. This story’s plot has holes big enough to drive a Hummer through. You see, Gumby’s dog, Lowbelly, starts to cry pearl tears whenever he’s in the audience at a Clayboys concert. Yet why this supernatural canine tear metamorphosis suddenly starts happening, is never quite explained. What we do learn, however, is that those dastardly Blockheads see dollar signs the moment Lowbelly begins to solidify waterworks.
Their plan to steal this man’s-best-(jewelry)-friend is where the story becomes especially messy and illogical. These two Blockheads have a machine that can make robot clones out any living thing, so they then swipe Lowbelly and replace him with a robot copy — one that doesn’t fool anybody. Next they show this stolen bow wow videos of The Clayboys performing, in hopes that he’ll fill their greedy Block dreams with brand new pearls.
As you might guess, their wealth-gaining plan fails. But then again, their schemes always fail. But if these intelligent Blockheads (Now that’s an oxymoron!) can come up with technology that makes complicated robotic clones of living creatures, why can’t they simply take one of Lowbelly’s pearls and make a gazillion copies of it? Wouldn’t making exact pearl copies be easier than creating complex robot duplications of clay animals and people? That might have saved them a world of trouble. But then, it would also white out the bulk of the storyline, too.
All of this won’t matter to kids, however. They’ll be too enthralled with Gumby doing his best Eddie Van Halen guitar theatrics, as well as walking in and out of various books the way he always does. And in spite of these plot objections, if you’ve got a heart, Gumby will still be a part of you.
In addition to the main feature, this “Gumbified Director’s Cut” version of the 1995 film includes four environmentally friendly classic Gumby episodes, as well as deleted scenes. This review copy also came with a miniature Gumby figure.
Art Clokey (director)/Art Clokey, Gloria Clokey (screenplay)
Charles Farrington – Gumby/Clabybert/Batbuckle
Art Clokey – Pokey/Prickle/Gumbo
Gloria Clokey – Goo
Bonnie Rudolph: Lowbelly/Farm Lady