Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus Review
Once upon a time, Nickelodeon asked a comic book writer named Jhonen Vasquez to make a TV show for them. What Vasquez gave them was Invader Zim, a show about a little green alien trying to conquer Earth and the paranormal obsessed boy trying to stop him. Nickelodeon didn’t appreciate it, or it’s high budget, so they canceled the show before it could finish. Fast forward almost two decades later, and the show’s explosion in popularity made Nick realize it made a mistake. They begged Vasquez to come back and do more Zim, but when they didn’t want to air it, Netflix did it for them. And that’s the story of how we got Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus.
I have been waiting for years for Invader Zim to make its return and give fans the closure they wanted, of which I am one. Does it hold up to how I remember the show? After watching it all weekend, my answer’s yes and no, but overwhelmingly yes.
By the way, there are spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen the movie on Netflix or wherever some fans put it up, be warned.
The Return of Zim!
After an animesque opening monologue in which Dib explains how Zim vanished some time ago, we see what’s become of him. He’s shut himself inside his room and let his body (and sanity) go while obsessively waiting for Zim’s return. In hindsight, it’s like a metaphor for the fans waiting years for Zim to return, which makes it even funnier to see him wig out when Zim does reappear.
Since Zim’s one of the precursors to the modern-day Internet Troll, he spent all that time sitting in a toilet laughing evilly. Zim says he did it because he knew Dib would neglect his body wondering where he went, leaving him free to begin Phase Two of his master plan. Thus the two enemies begin their war anew, with Zim ready for his biggest plan ever; that is if he can remember what it was!
Doesn’t Waste Time to Enter the Florpus
Unlike other reboots, Enter the Florpus knows it doesn’t need to waste time on excess nostalgia bait or explaining everything. It recognizes the fans will remember what the show’s about. Thanks to this, Enter The Florpus hits ground running, as though the show never ended in the first place.
If nothing else, the seventeen-year absence has only improved the show. The entire cast slips back into their roles like a reliable pair of shoes, giving their all from the start. Given the characters he’s played since Zim ended, though, it seems like Richard Horvitz never took off the Zim shoes. He owns the screen every time Zim goes to talk, bringing all the manic hamminess of Zim to life.
Zim’s Amazing Glory
As for Zim himself, this film shows him in all his evil glory. Do you know how I keep saying that Zim can be a deadly villain when he’s shooting himself in the proverbial foot? His plan in Enter the Florpus solidifies my argument. Without spoiling anything, Zim comes closer to victory than he ever has in the show. Even Gaz realizes how dangerous he is this time around. GAZ! If she’s willing to help Dib without any ulterior motive this time around, you know things are bad.
It’s a Family Story
Speaking of the Membrane family, they all play a significant role in this film, rather than just Dib. At its core, Enter the Florpus is a family story, and about getting respect. We saw how dysfunctional the Membrane family was in the show, and it still is, to an extent. The show implied that Dib’s obsession with Zim stems from a desire to gain his father’s approval, and that conflict comes to a head in this special. Even when faced with physical proof that his son’s right, Professor Membrane’s ego makes him deny it. Meanwhile, while Gaz has grown noticeably more patient, she still has a low tolerance for her brother’s antics.
In spite of the show’s mantra of “doom,” Enter the Florpus offers a glimmer of hope in the life of Dib. The events of the film lead him to strengthen his bonds with Gaz, who actively helps and encourages him at times, and his dad. As the film nears its climax, in one of the most heartwarming moments in the entire series, Dib hears the words he’s always wanted his father to say: he’s always been proud of him.
Then we get a beautifully choreographed chase and fight scene against Zim’s army of robots with the fate of Earth at stake, which is incredible!
For Better or Worse
In regards to the black comedy and creepiness, the film tones noticeably down the creepiness while turning up the comedy. Some fans may complain that the disturbing aspects are what made Zim Zim, but I think it’s for the best. I’ve made it clear that there are moments that even I thought were a little much, and I’ve seen some weird stuff! Plus, the tone lines up with the ongoing comic book, and that has the Zim feeling to it.
In the end, Zim’s greatest plan gets thwarted, not by Dib alone, but by the entire family. For once, Invader Zim doesn’t screw Dib over in the end, either. He’s gotten closer to his sister, and while Professor Membrane still doesn’t believe in aliens, Dib knows that his dad’s proud of him. They even get a new family member in Clembrane, a deformed, pudding obsessed clone of Membrane made by Zim. Ironically, Clembrane’s more openly affectionate and supporting of Dib and Gaz, giving them the emotional support they need.
If anyone’s the loser in this, it’s Zim. He finally figures out the Tallest don’t respect him. Instead of reflecting on his actions, he doubles down on his attempts to get their respect. Then when he ends up losing, he deluded himself into thinking he won.
Of course, the Tallest aren’t around to express their hatred of him. Thanks to Zim’s plan, they’ve entered a deadly Florpus Hole that’s causing them to collide with alternate realities. Yeah, Enter the Florpus gets its name from a MacGuffin.
Tune Your Eyeholes and Watch This!
So, aside from the film’s title comes from a MacGuffin, and noticeably more restrained dark comedy, Enter the Florpus still captures everything that made the show a cult classic. If you were hoping that it would provide a concrete ending for Invader Zim, though, forget it. The end gives us something better: potential plot threads for the series going forward.
Like the character himself, Invader Zim is the cartoon that refuses to go away and only gets stronger as time goes by. With the success of Enter the Florpus, maybe Jhonen Vasquez will want to finish the show on his terms. At least Netflix will give him more freedom. If this leads to more Zim in the future, I’ll be ecstatic. If not, then I can rest easy knowing that I got some sort of emotional closure to an unfinished chapter of my childhood.
I give Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus a 6/5. Every bit as flawed and crazy as the original show was. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Oh, if you guys didn’t know, Zim has his own comic book series now! Crazy right? You can read it right here on this website!
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