Review: Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends

In a world where imaginary friends can be seen by everyone (even adults), “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” brings a fresh, fun, and imaginative way to let in the whole family in on the joy of having a pretend pal. When a kid outgrows their imaginary friend, they are sent to Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, a huge Victorian mansion, run by the old Madame Foster, and her imaginary friend, a rabbit, Mr. Herriman, and her 22 year old granddaughter, Frankie.

The series picks up with the separation of a normal 8 year old boy, Mac, as his mother demands he gives up his own imaginary friend, Bloo, due to the constant fighting between the two and Mac’s older brother, Terrance. His mother states her final decision, and thinks Mac is too old for an imaginary friend. That night Bloo, is channel surfing and sees a commercial for “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” and convinces to have Mac take him there to live.

Inside the mansion, Mac and Bloo meet Frankie, Mr. Herriman, as well as other imaginary friends, including the very tall and helpful Wilt, the burly fraidy cat, Eduardo, the crazy plastic egg-laying bird, Coco, and Duchess, the stuck-up prude. With a quick tour of the mansion, its obvious the never-ending staircases, enormous amount of rooms, and mile-long hallways These new friends, along with countless other forgotten imaginary friends await adoption by children (some lack creativity) in need of their own imaginary buddies. It is ruled that Mac may visit everyday, but if another child comes and adopts Bloo, he can do nothing about it.

The first 90 minutes of this series won’t be too unfamiliar for fans of Cartoon Network’s major hits. Craig McCracken, the creator of “The Powerpuff Girls” and one of the directors from “Dexter’s Laboratory,” rewards the audience with some of the most smooth and free-flowing use of animation done with Macromedia Flash. The crisp and clean lines of the computer are purposely roughened as if drawn in thick pencil, yet the smooth color, cel shading, and fluid animation remind us this series is done on computer…which isn’t a bad thing. When hearing the computer-controlled refinement may suggest a cold, hard-edge style, but nothing could be further from the truth. For anyone afraid to jump from cel animation to computer animation, be assured, McCracken makes the transition smoothly and seamlessly. As accustomed fans might expect, the characters consists of bright splashes of full-bodied color found in classic UPA and Hanna-Barbera cartoons. With a loose and free illustrative style, McCracken and his team create clean visuals with an expressive style that screams “minimalist” and “Crayola” at the same time.

The first moment of the film opens with Mac and Bloo peering from behind a countertop, with the signature violin sliding sound effect, made famous by Genndy Tartovsky and Craig McCracken in their original series. Characters, such as Mac’s mother, are modeled similar to others in McCracken’s “Powerpuff” series. As a matter of fact fans of “The Powerpuff Girls” might remember the old lady often walking the streets of Townsville looking very similar to Madame Foster. Is it the same woman? Is the home in Townsville? Identical twins? Let the speculation begin.

The most particular thing about this series, is the brute honesty and lack of sarcasm. While each character’s quirky humor and innocence is what may attract the audiences, “Foster’s Home” never draws an overly witty or sarcastic laugh. The humor is tucked neatly into the plot, void of all visual gags. As in all good cartoons, this one is dialogue driven, and the writers have taken their time to not only avoid clichés, but to create dialogue that is intelligent, witty, and self-aware. It also doesn’t hurt, that McCracken’s voice talent is the cream of the crop, including the voices of seasoned actors such as Sean Marquette (Rocket Power), Keith Ferguson (Bambi II), Phil LaMarr (Samurai Jack, Justice League), Tom Kane (Powerpuff Girls), Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants, Powerpuff Girls), Tara Strong (Powerpuff Girls, Teen Titans), Grey Delisle (As Told my Ginger, The Fairly Oddparents), and Candi Milo (My Life as a Teenage Robot, Astroboy).

“Imaginary Friends” might inspire you to create your own imaginary friend. Even if you’re lacking creativity, no need to worry. With Craig McCracken’s new show, there are many to characters perfect for adopt and unleashing your inner self.

Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends premieres August 13th at 7:30 PM (eastern/pacific) on Cartoon Network!