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TV Review: ‘Allen Gregory’ is Latest FOX ‘Animation Domination’

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CHICAGO – The cartoon hits keep coming as part of FOX TV’s Sunday night “Animation Domination.” The latest, premiering October 30th, is “Allen Gregory,” a series about a pretentious seven-year-old that is created and voiced through the character style of actor Jonah Hill.

HollywoodChicago.com TV Rating: 4.0/5.0
TV Rating: 4.0/5.0

The show is strong right out the gate. Combining the low-key and dry delivery of Jonah Hill with a sleek, hepster-styled animation, “Allen Gregory” is fun because it is so weird. It is the type of show that can only exist in the post millennium era, because no other generation would ever believe that a kid like Allen Gregory could exist at any other time.

The series open at a fancy party thrown by Richard DeLongpre (voice by French Stewart). It is honoring his seven-year-old son, Allen Gregory (Jonah Hill), on the occasion of his Tony Award nomination. They are joined by Richard’s husband and life partner, Jeremy (Nat Faxon), and their adopted daughter from Cambodian, Julie (Joy Osmanski). The party is a cover – the Tony committee wouldn’t honor a play premiering in the DeLongpre living room. Richard has put it together to break the news that Allen Gregory must attend elementary school and first grade.

New Kid in Town: Patrick (left) greets the title character in ‘Allen Gregory’
New Kid in Town: Patrick (left) greets the title character in ‘Allen Gregory’
Photo Credit: FOX Broadcasting

For the sophisticated Allen Gregory, this is a nightmare. He is urbane and cynical, like a tiny New York City modern artist. He doesn’t fit in with the school, despite support from his friend Patrick (Christina Puccelli). Allen does have one thing going for him in this elementary ordeal – he is in love with the sixtysomething, spiked-hair school principal, Ms. Gottlieb (Renée Taylor). There is many things going on around him as well. Richard keeps pushing Jeremy to get a job, implying a financial collapse for the rich family, daughter Julie keeps pushing Allen into grade school misery and Jeremy has issue with his own status as one of two Dads.

The basis for a successful series is how broad they can make the situation, to keep mining the humor. Allen Gregory is gold. From Jonah Hill’s unique delivery, the shallowness of urban wealth and the strange hierarchy of grade school, there is enough material for many seasons. The drawback could be that the situation is on the edge of a knife, and it will depend on writing. But if the pilot is any indication – Hill is also one of the writers – it should maintain its energy.

The characters are nicely drawn, in that early 1960s Beatnik rendering. All of them have distinct and early established personalities. French Stewart’s Richard is the most highly comic, but his character is such a carbon copy of Jim Rash’s Dean Pelton on “Community” – cartoon Richard even looks like him – that I thought it was Pelton’s voice. Julie is funny, too, the orphan of the family who is an actual orphan. Principal Gottlieb is nearly perfect, aware that the pint size Allen is freakishly in love with her, but keeping it real as a straight-laced foil.

Allen Gregory with Parents Richard and Jeremy Meet Principal Gottlieb in ‘Allen Gregory’
Allen Gregory with Parents Richard and Jeremy Meet Principal Gottlieb in ‘Allen Gregory’
Photo Credit: FOX Broadcasting

We are in the midst of a transition period with Jonah Hill. Was “Allen Gregory” created when he was rotund or in his new thin personality, and will that make a difference in the character? Hill as Allen sounds like a cross between his portrayal of “Cyrus,” and his foul-mouthed comedian in “Funny People.” It works, but will it work when he’s thin? I kid Jonah Hill.

Regardless, “Allen Gregory” is a strong addition to “Animation Domination” on FOX, and gets a nice premiere slot right after “The Simpsons” annual “Treehouse of Horror” episode. Porcine or lean, Jonah Hill delivers.

”Allen Gregory” premieres on Sunday, October 30th on FOX at 8:30 pm/7:30 CT. Check local listings for channel location. Featuring the voices of Jonah Hill, Will Forte, French Stewart, Nat Faxon, Joy Osmanski and Renée Taylor. Created by Jonah Hill, Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul.

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Senior Staff Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2011 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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