Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus

Tagged: Film

US animated tv film (2019). Nickelodeon Animation Studio. Executive Producers Mary Harrington and Jhonen Vasquez. Art Director Jenny Goldberg, Storyboard Director Jake Wyatt. Written by Jhonen Vasquez. Voice cast includes Andy Berman, Rodger Bumpass, Olivia d'Abo, Melissa Fahn and Richard Horvitz. 72 minutes. Colour.

This sequel to the television series Invader Zim (2001-2002, 2006) opens with twelve-year-old Dib Membrane (Berman) awaiting the reappearance of the Alien Zim (Horvitz). Dib lives in his bedroom, getting – as his younger sister Gaz (Fahn) remarks – "grosser". When Zim does come out of hiding Dib cannot stop him, his sedentary lifestyle having come at a price: lamenting "sat too long, chair fused to butt ... more chair than man now".

Zim, of the Irken race, believes his rulers sent him to Earth to prepare it for conquest (see Invasion) – in fact it was to get rid of him – and so is bereft to discover their armada's flight plan (a straight line) does not cross Earth. So he teleports (see Teleportation) the Earth into its path ... sadly an unfortunate side-effect of his method is to open a Florpus Hole (see Imaginary Science), which will suck in the Earth and collide it with alternate realities (see Parallel Worlds). Realizing their super-Scientist father, Professor Membrane (Bumpass), might be able to save the day, Dib and Gaz spring him from Zim's space Prison. Though Professor Membrane believes he is hallucinating (see Perception), he finds the experience fascinating and so engages with events and – as Earth enters the Florpus and characters flit through differing animation styles – successfully works with Dib and Gaz to transport Earth back to its rightful place. Foiled, Zim then steals a ceramic clown puppy from their house and insists that was his plan all along.

This being a full-length film rather than a short television episode, some emotional drama is added: Dib is now distressed (rather than angry) that his father does not believe his talk of aliens, wanting him to be proud of his son; whilst even Gaz has a (brief) moment of compassion for her brother. Zim himself bewails the destruction of his giant Robots: "Spencer, Devon, Maria, Lawrence ... Noooooo!".

Other changes from the tv series include Earth being less grubby and society not as ugly (though still pretty dumb); Zim himself is as declamatory as ever, but less quotable; additionally, the focus has shifted slightly from him to the Membrane family. Happily, Gaz, save for the aforementioned lapse, is largely still Gaz – and gets to pilot a Spaceship, calling upon her Videogame playing talents. Professor Membrane is more affectionate towards his children, though his parenting skills still need some work: "as a child I thought sharks were my friend ... [tears off arm sheath to dramatically reveal mechanical limb] ... I know better now!"

Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus is a film with much pleasingly absurd humour; it has a plot solid enough to sustain the story's length and is bursting with genre tropes, which the animation delivers with gusto; all combining to make a very entertaining sf production. [SP]

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