You might be wondering how Netflix has stretched the 64-page, minimally texted, 50 total words, Dr. Seuss classic children’s story “Green Eggs and Ham” into a 13-episode animated series.
Well, heck. Considering Disney figured out a way to take a creaky amusement park ride and turn it into a six-movie, $5 billion franchise, and Lego toys have become the building blocks (HA!) for a fantastically fun animated world, by comparison the source material in this case is practically Dickensian in scope.
And sure enough, the Warner Bros. animation team and a group of executive producers including Jared Stern (contributing writer to “Wreck-It Ralph” and “The Lego Batman Movie”) and Ellen DeGeneres (she’s Ellen DeGeneres) have paid homage to Seuss’ source material and unforgettable characters while also delivering an original, gorgeously animated, sweet and breezy family-friendly gem.
We like to talk about how the best animated films work on two levels: great stuff for the kids, and more sophisticated humor to keep the grown-ups entertained. “Green Eggs and Ham” indeed has its share of clever touches intended for adults and bigger kids, but at heart and in tone it’s simply a wonderful “cartoon” show sure to keep the little ones glued to the screen.
If you waited until Thanksgiving weekend to start watching this, you might want to cue up “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” first. Then you can have extra fun enjoying the obvious parallels between “PTA” and “GEAH.”
Narrator Keegan-Michael Key guides us through the tale of one Sam-I-Am (the ever-upbeat and perfectly cast Adam Devine), an eternal optimist with a sunny personality and a cheerful addiction to (say it with me) green eggs and ham.
Sam-I-Am loves green eggs and ham! Whether it’s perfectly cooked or soaked in the rain or fried to a crisp by a lightning strike, it’s his all-time favorite, one and only, go-to meal.
Michael Douglas lends a perfectly growling touch to the curmudgeonly Guy-Am-I, who bumps into Sam-I-Am in a diner one day — and winds up stuck with Sam on a long, adventure-filled, comedic and perilous road trip involving all manner of transportation, all the while refusing to even try the aforementioned, oddly colored egg/ham combo platter.
(Sam is the John Candy type character. Guy is Steve Martin.)
With feature-film level animation filling every corner of the screen, “Green Eggs and Ham” is filled with silly touches, e.g., when Guy pays a visit to a corporate headquarters in the hopes of selling his latest invention, he passes by rows of pencil pushers that are literally pushing pencils, and bean counters who are, yes, counting beans.
With different goals but the same destination in mind, Sam and Guy hit the road for the journey to Meepville, a town where Eddie Izzard’s Snerz has a collection of rare animals and is desperate to bag the rarest of them all: a large, strange, misunderstood and extremely rare creature known as a chickeraffe!
It just might be that Guy and/or Sam has come into possession of a chickeraffe, which leads to a posse of Bad Guys, who call themselves the Bad Guys, chasing after them.
Guy and Sam also cross paths with Diane Keaton’s insanely overprotective Michellee and her daughter EB (Ilana Glazer), who is yearning to break free from a veritable prison of safety precautions and live life. The EB character is worthy of her own animated show.
We meet all sorts of entertainingly silly characters along the way, including Tracy Morgan as a fox actually guarding a henhouse. And we learn some heartbreaking truths about our main characters — and some shocking secrets about leading to some big plot twists.
But the heartbreak and the shock and the twists aren’t too heartbreaking or shocking or twist-y to keep the little ones up at night or have them losing interest as plot developments fly over their heads. It’s easy to keep up with the story, and for every relatively heavy moment, there are a half-dozen appropriately goofy and wonderfully funny sequences. These tricks are for kids.