"Jetsons: The Movie" is a real time-warp picture. The setting may be the 21st century, but the feeling it evokes is strictly '60s and early '70s.
"The Jetsons" began as a mid-'60s prime-time animated TV series before being relegated to the Saturday morning lineup for the next decade.In this new movie the domestic sitcom format hasn't changed much - George Jetson is still a lazy button-pusher at Spacely Sprockets, Jane is still a happy homemaker, daughter Judy is still ditsy about rock 'n' roll stars (though now she spends most of her time in malls instead of discos) and son Elroy still seems to be the brains of the outfit. (Ultimately, to no one's surprise, it is Elroy who saves the day.)
And, of course, there's Astro the dog, who barks and talks at the same time, like a space-age Scooby-Doo; Rosie the robot maid, still cracking wise, shaking her head and wondering how humans have survived so long as a species; and George's always furious boss Mr. Spacely, who usually appears to be on the verge of bursting blood vessels. (Most of the voices for these characters have also returned, including the late George O'Hanlon as George Jetson and the late Mel Blanc as Mr. Spacely - they both died shortly after completing their voice work for this movie.) The major exception being Tiffany, the pop singer who voices Judy Jetson and gets to do some songs.
The story has George getting a transfer to an asteroid, where he'll be in charge of an automated sprocket plant, unaware that Spacely has sent him there because the plant is being sabotaged and he feels George is expendable.
The revelation at the end of the film is in line with popular environmental concerns, as is a line of dialogue that tells us Jane is in charge of a neighborhood recycling program.
But otherwise "The Jetsons" have hardly moved into the '90s, much less the 21st century.
There are two other elements that seem to be modern moves, but both seem more like rip-offs than innovation: The furry little creatures who are sabotaging the plant look like a cross between Ewoks and Mogwai (from "Return of the Jedi" and "Gremlins," respectively). And the computer animation used for the asteroid gives depth and dimension to the art (a la "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"), but it also makes the rest of the drawings used here seem flat and less interesting.
As for the dialogue, story and songs, this is Hanna-Barbera material through and through, which means it is in general more bland than the competition. I have never found "Yogi Bear," "The Flintstones" or "The Jetsons" as bright or witty as Warner Bros., Disney or Don Bluth cartoons, and to my mind the only TV animated series that qualifies for classic status is "Rocky and Bullwinkle." (And perhaps "The Simpsons" in a few years.)
Parents are likely to get fidgety, but their kids will probably enjoy "Jetsons: The Movie."