Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Adventure Time: “Be More”

Illustration for article titled Adventure Time: “Be More”

Every aspect of Adventure Time has its roots in childish fantasy. Finn is the little boy who is raised by animals in the woods and never has to live under any sort of parental authority. Jake is the dog that truly is man’s best friend, not only capable of speech but also gifted with supernatural powers. Princess Bubblegum is the crush that is so sweet, she’s actually made of sugar, and the Candy Kingdom as a whole represents the sweet tooth of the younger set. The walking, talking videogame is the fantasy behind BMO, but unlike the rest of the characters, BMO is strongly rooted in a reality the audience is very familiar with. The button layout and port locations might be different, but BMO is basically a Game Boy, and that connection to something physical is what has made him one of the show’s most popular characters.

There’s a major nostalgia factor for adults who watch Adventure Time, and a chibi classic Game Boy as one of the main characters is definitely a part of that. A lot of kids in the ’80s and ’90s probably spent more time with their Game Boys than their siblings, and in Adventure Time the videogame system is actually a valuable member of the family unit. Watching BMO try to do the things that come naturally to his living colleagues is a constant source of comedy in this series, and the start of this episode shows us how BMO takes a dump. While permanently deleting files underneath the privacy of an overturned cardboard box, BMO accidentally erases his Core System Drivers; in other words, he shits his brains out. Finn and Jake have to repair their broken family member, but in order to do that they need to go to the MO factory, BMO’s birthplace.

Only MOs are allowed in the MOCO facility, so Finn and Jake disguise themselves so they can get past DMO, the guard/tour guide voiced by Aziz Ansari. How cool is Adventure Time? Pendleton Ward tweeted Aziz Ansari last minute asking him if he wanted to be a guest voice and he totally accepted. He plays a robot so his voice is distorted, but I like to believe that he recorded his lines on a cell phone and then the editors just used those low quality recordings. He’s joined by Adventure Time veteran Paul F. Thompkin this week, who shows off his versatility by voicing all of the SMO security guards. The actors hired by this show have speaking voices that are immediately distinct, and that natural personality helps flesh out bit roles and make them memorable.

Judging by the behavior of the SMO security guards, we can assume that all MOs are programmed to try to act as human as possible within their respective programming restraints. That means they try to eat and drink like humans, resulting in some delightful visual gags as robots try and fail to drink coffee and eat doughnuts. My other favorite gag is classic slapstick: Finn walking into a bunch of stuff when he covers his eyes as FMO. Because this is a BMO episode, there are also some fun video game jokes, including Finn frantically memorizing a map he’s just looked at (sparking some Castlevania flashbacks) and going through a railway chase that is essentially a mine cart level from a ’90s platformer.

Finn, Jake, and BMO’s escape from the SMOs leads them to Moseph “Mo” Maestro Giovanni, the sad, gentle old man who was only ever loved by the things he built to love him and who is now kept alive by those creations. The music gets very Kubrickesque when Mo falls to the ground and crawls toward BMO, his greatest creation. BMO is unique in that unlike the millions of his robots siblings, he was built to understand fun and how to play. “I made BMO to be more,” Mo tells Finn and Jake as he reboots BMO’s software, and it’s an interesting insight into the philosophy behind this series. That childlike mentality of fun and play is an enlightened state in Adventure Time, and BMO reaches that every day with Finn and Jake.

Beyond the philosophy, Mo’s arrival also opens some new narrative opportunities. This season has seen the Adventure Time writers considerably expand on the mythology of the series, and exploring BMO’s origin opens up new storytelling possibilities for the future of the character. Finn and Jake’s journey to MOCO reveals an entire robot community for the gang to meet later, and if the writers are going to fill 52 episodes a season, expansion is the way to go.


Stray observations:

  • Like the last few years, Adventure Time was a significant presence at San Diego Comic-Con this past weekend, with Cartoon Network announcing that Finn and Jake would be appearing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Rebecca Sugar also serenaded the audience with some of her songs from the show, including a duet of “Bad Little Boy” with surprise guest Donald Glover.
  • The Adventure Time comic book team won an Eisner Award for Best Kids Publication. Algebraic!
  • The Adventure Time Encyclopedia was just released, and it’s a snazzy little hardcover written from the point of view of Hunson Abadeer. One problem, though: It needs updating after all the new info introduced in season five.
  • “Finn, you dum—you dum—you dum—you da man! This is gonna be a snap!”
  • “FMO, you look ridiculous.”
  • “Cram your tram! Womp!”