Tue. Feb 27th, 2024

Ever since the news of new Venture Bros. material was announced – a potential conclusion to the entire shebang – I began holding my breath in anticipation. The pain helped pass the time. I feel as if I’ve been waiting most of my life on this show, since its debut in 2003, this cartoon has kept me on bated breath.

The program has been on hiatus, it has been canceled, come back, given us specials, and through it all, I kept talking to friends about Venture Bros., sharing it with new fans, and promoting it as one of the few shows with a positive albino influence, but something feels right about bringing such a long journey to its end with an epic (albeit direct to digital and Blu-Ray) film.

It’s called The Venture Bros.: Radiant is the Blood of the Baboon Heart, and that ridiculous title is silly, appropriate for the series, and I can hear it perfectly in Dr. Venture’s (James Urbaniak) voice every time I read it. This isn’t nonsense, random words thrown together, because there is a great payoff from the title at the end, but I will probably be shortening it when I mention the movie by next week. If the title wasn’t enough to scare new viewers away, let me finish that by saying that this picks up directly from the end of season seven and simply assumes everyone has seen the entire show at least one and a half times. There is no recap or easing it in slowly, just picking up right where we left off. Even established fans may want to find a little recap of that last season, as it has been five years and there is no ‘previously on’ segment or blatant exposition reminders to fill in the memory gaps.

Radiant is the Blood is for those Venture enthusiasts (they say so in the commentary). It takes all of the previous events and follows that natural progression without skipping a beat. Sure, there is a new villain named Mantilla (Nina Arianda), a quest in the search for Hank as well as what he’s seeking, and a wild third act, but at the end of the day, most of us are here to simply hang out with these characters we love and see more of their outlandish lives in this upside-down superhero world. 

This film about someone with a baboon’s heart is about relationships, because the Venture family and their associates are all stupendously dysfunctional and beyond help, but dealing with those closest to us is something we all have to do and can relate to. The story isn’t as much about what happens in the plot, as the humanity we see from the characters and the self-discovery fans have been waiting for these idiots to finally experience. The creators have said that “Venture Bros. is one long conversation between two guys who love each other,” and this lengthy and thoughtful episode might be the best execution of that statement for those who know the history.

While the magic is building, there are some great gags along the way, like the bus bit and the giant check. There are also a ton of references to Darkman, The Fly, Dazzler, Batman Forever, as well as Punisher and his Battle Van, but amidst the usual Dr. Strange and Fantastic Four callouts, they also manage to fit in something like Zardoz for crying out loud. There are a couple of neat, more subtle things that progress the characters, such as seeing Dr. Orpheus (Steven Rattazzi) set up in a Ghostbusters-like office now, and plenty of epic moments for those who know the characters, from H.E.L.P.eR. cocking the shotgun, Hank’s (Christopher McCulloch) extensive memory sequence, Dean (Michael Sinterniklaas) thinking he’s a vampire, to people betting on the potential fight between Red Death (Clancy Brown) and Brock Sampson (Patrick Warburton) and, of course, always making Dr. Girlfriend (Doc Hammer) look awesome. For me though, it was the moment with It Takes Two by Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock playing because this show is way too get at getting songs stuck in my head.

There is a lot going on, a ton packed in the background, everything seeping with callbacks, and they even managed to fit a little more male nudity in. While the feature may come across as bloated, at 84 minutes, the movie feels like it takes its time and focuses on our old friends, even though they crammed an entire final (for now) season into one lengthy adventure. In the commentary and Q&A (plus an additional interview featurette) for the special features, the creators keep mentioning everything that had to be cut, what they wanted to do, and how much some of these elements mean to them. It’s fantastic and feels like such an appropriate ending to something with the Venture Bros. name on it.

It is nuts to me how a show that is so unplanned in many ways came together so tightly. The opening shot of the film is of the United Nations building, where most of the pilot takes place. So much about the answered questions and the ridiculous baboon part just make me feel at home, like the journey hasn’t just been worth it, but needed. I learned so much about the show from the commentaries, heard them talking about all of their numerous ideas and influences, and I realized how this cartoon has been that for me. It’s an excellent, open-ended ending, a bittersweet and meaningful goodbye from a group of ludicrous characters, and it is totally worth finishing the story. 

SCORE: 8.5/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 8.5 equates to “Great.” While there are a few minor issues, this score means that the art succeeds at its goal and leaves a memorable impact.

By Dave Jenks

Dave Jenks is an American novelist and Veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Between those careers, he’s worked as a deckhand, commercial fisherman, divemaster, taxi driver, construction manager, and over the road truck driver, among many other things. He now lives on a sea island, in the South Carolina Lowcountry, with his wife and youngest daughter. They also have three grown children, five grand children, three dogs and a whole flock of parakeets. Stinnett grew up in Melbourne, Florida and has also lived in the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, and Cozumel, Mexico. His next dream is to one day visit and dive Cuba.