Years and years ago, when Mertmas was a newborn, we’d always be on the lookout for something to watch during those early morning feeds. We’re talking way before the advent of on-demand entertainment although we did have Sky+ so we could watch previously recorded stuff but thankfully we didn’t have to. For some reason, the Disney Channel decided to fill the bleary-eyed five to six am slot with animated goodness. One of those shows was “Kim Possible” and we kept on watching it long after the need for morning feeds had passed. It moved from being something to keep awake to, to something to look forward to, to something to be cherished. Thanks to the Sky box, “Kim Possible” became the early morning snuggle in and watch of choice and we saw it through to the very end. To this day, the tone for text messages from Mrs Craggus on my phone is Kim’s signature four-tone beeper so when Disney announced they were looking to reboot Kim Possible through their live-action sausage machine, we were pretty excited – and a little bit wary.
Veteran crime-fighters Kim Possible (Sadie Stanley) and her best friend Ron Stoppable (Sean Giambrone) face a challenge of a very different kind as they start High School where a world of mean girls and teachers complicate their attempts to defeat Doctor Drakken’s latest scheme.
It starts brightly enough as Kim and Ron thwart a plot by Professor Dementor (Patton Oswalt) and rescue scientist Dr Glopman (Patrick Sabongui). In one of the animated episodes, the rescue of this scientist would usually pay-off in the adventure to come but not this time – it’s just a nod to Kim’s splendid rogue’s gallery before the main story begins.
And unfortunately, it’s in the story that this well-intentioned reboot really falls down. There’s none of the wit of the cartoon in the writing or characterisation and it falls awkwardly between trying to introduce the property to a new audience while honouring the source material. In doing so, it rewrites the origins of several characters, eliminates others and presents a story that undermines its title character in favour of a new one. In many ways, it feels much more like a sequel, probably the third part of a trilogy where there’s no confidence the main cast will return for any further adventures so the groundwork is laid to spin-off a new cast.
The casting is a mixed bag, too. Sadie Stanley makes a decent enough Kim, although her hair lacks volume and she doesn’t quite have the confidence and presence to carry off the character. Sean Giambrone is a less successful Ron Stoppable. Oh, he absolutely nails Ron’s voice, his frantic mugging and constant pratfalls smack of trying too hard. The other casting highlights are Issac Ryan Brown’s Wade, Alyson Hannigan’s Ann Possible, Taylor Ortega’s superb Shego and Todd Stashwick’s Doctor Drakken, even if really should be much bluer than he’s portrayed here.
The main surprise is in, for no good reason, taking the narrative decision to make Kim lack confidence and competence in favour of new addition Athena (Ciara Riley Wilson). Moving Kim to the incompetent role forces Ron much further into the oblivious buffoon role, which is a terrible reading of the cartoon character and there’s hardly more than reluctant lip service paid to Ron’s enduring friendship with Rufus, the naked mole rat whose introduction feels like a late-in-the-day focus group reaction driven addition.
There are some real moments of triumph, such as the real-world recreation of Beuno Nacho and it’s nice to see Christy Carlson Romano (original voice of Kim) in a cameo but this is a lacklustre, low-energy reboot of one of Disney’s brightest and best original animated series, and that’s the sitch.