So many of us can live the rest of our lives in blissful satisfaction now that Netflix has released Rabbids Invasion: Mission to Mars, a spinoff special of the animated series in which little rubbery rabbit-like aliens gibber nonsense-speak and participate in endless cartoon violence. They’re indestructible squeak toys that never shut up and constantly smack each other around. And now they’re going to Mars! That these obnoxious creations deserve the feature-length treatment is dubious at best – but will they inspire a few laughs, or make us wish they were truly being shot into outer space? Let’s find out.
The Gist: There’s this Rabbid who isn’t like the other Rabbids. For starters, he has an Amish beard/combover combo, and looks like your ninth-grade earth science teacher. He’s also not an unapologetically raving moron with the IQ of a hammer (a peen hammer of some kind, I’d wager). In fact, he’s a math maniac and science wiz. And when he learns that big-tech CEO Frank Nebula wants to send Rabbids to Mars – their indestructible nature allows them to survive Mars’ harsh atmosphere, see – our bearded protagonist does everything he can to prove he’s worthy of the mission. It shouldn’t be hard, right? I mean, the other Rabbids couldn’t be dumber, unless they were QAnon devotees.
So our guy makes his way to Nebula HQ, where a roomful of Rabbids take part in incessant antics: screaming, trying to eat fireworks, dancing to brainless instrumental electro-disco, making fart noises and watching Sunny Love Beach, a Magnum P.I.-meets-Baywatch TV show that makes Emily in Paris look like The Wire. Beardo earns the trust of a couple lower-rung scientists who name him Scribbles, and, after many false starts, finally get him a seat on the rocket to the Red Planet. Scribbles will be joined by a shrieking baby Rabbid, a Rabbid obsessed with taking selfies and the disco Rabbid in legwarmers and a butthugger speedo. They could be more obnoxious, they could be less. Let’s just say their obnoxiousness inspires ambivalence.
Of course, nothing goes according to plan. Antics on the rocket turn into antics on the surface, especially after the Rabbids discover bloblike tri-eyed Martians, who also participate in antics. But, as anyone smarter than a Rabbid suspected, Frank Nebula has an ulterior motive, a nefarious plan-beneath-the-plan that cements his status as the bad guy. What’d you expect from a big-tech CEO? The selfless non-capitalist pursuit of scientific discovery for the good of all humankind?
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: I’d say Rabbids are outright ripoffs of Minions, but the bulging-eyed noseless little white things predate the bulging-eyed noseless little yellow things by four years. I will say Shaun the Sheep says a lot more while saying nothing than any of these characters, though.
Performance Worth Watching: Kudos to Scribbles for staying true to himself even when he doesn’t fit in with others of his ilk. There’s a moment where he pretends to be your run-of-the-mill stumbling-idiot Rabbid, and he’s either really bad at being stump-stupid, or a lousy actor.
Memorable Dialogue: “Mm mm-mmm? Ba BA ba.” – this could be Rabbid Shakespeare for all we know
Sex and Skin: None.
Our Take: Well, antics do not make for compelling drama. It takes half the runtime of RI:MtM for the flibbertigibbet to wane before the plot gets in gear and things start happening. Not that six-year-olds will give a crap; flibbertigibbet is their life, and perhaps in the Rabbids’ random lunacy, young children will see themselves. But hopefully those selves will never try to eat fireworks.
My theory for this special, one that perhaps extends to Rabbids Invasion in general – cartoon shorts, video games, etc. – is that its creators are actively seeking to convey no message whatsoever. No subtext, no moralizing, no lessons in civic duty a la those self-righteous little shit dogs on Paw Patrol. Maybe Mission to Mars brushes up against satire, of 1980s TV series, of the big-tech CEO as a cartoon villain. But I assert that such things are byproducts of my being older than 11.
Our Call: Rabbids Invasion: Mission to Mars is jabberwocky for jabberwocky’s sake. If that appeals to you, then STREAM IT after you get off the bus from elementary school.
John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work at johnserbaatlarge.com.