HBO Max’s Close Enough Review: Regular Show – all grown up
J.G Quintel has worked on and created some of my favorite cartoons growing up. Whether it was his work on Camp Lazlo and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack or creating Mordecai and Rigby, one of the greatest dynamic animated duos of all-time, with Regular Show, Quintel has always been a name in animation that I’ve always felt flies too low under people’s radars. Now with his new show on HBO Max, Close Enough, Quintel returns to deliver an animated series that’s perfect for any fan of Regular Show that’s all grown up now.
The series follows the perfectly mixed mundane and wild misadventures of Josh (voiced by Quintel), an aspiring video game developer, and Emily (voiced by Gabrielle Walsh), an assistant for a food corporation and part-time in a comedy singer-songwriter band. Together, this married couple living in Los Angeles is trying to navigate the transition from their 20s to their 30s while taking care of their rambunctious five-year-old Candice (voiced by Jessica DiCicco). To make things more challenging, in order to save money, the family lives with their friends Alex (voiced by Jason Mantzoukas) and Bridgette (voiced by Kimiko Glenn) – who are divorced. While trying to do the best for their daughter without losing their youth, the entire group tries to take adulting to new levels while confronting plenty of strange characters throughout LA.
Close Enough is an instantly relatable series because many of the situations that Josh and Emily deal with are things that most viewers deal with daily. Things like being stressed about a chaotic home life, dealing with Candice’s school as well as parents of her classmates, and trying to escape being called “old” are things that viewers can understand – especially with Josh. Josh is constantly trying to reclaim his youth by declaring prank wars and wanting to teach Candice to skateboard just like he wanted his dad to do when he was a kid. Anytime he hears the word old and tries to deny it, it’s a moment that feels all to real and you can understand how he can be so defensive when the word is thrown his way.
The same can be said for Emily as she also struggles with this transition. While she doesn’t struggle in the same ways as Josh, this living situation isn’t ideal for her as Alex and Bridgette are a lot to take in and causes her to stress out in a way that has her going to open houses just to find some solace. All of this is what makes this show stand apart from Regular Show – even while it works within the same framework.
It’s hard to ignore the fact that Close Enough utilizes the same kind of storytelling formula that Regular Show did. Basically, things start out normal enough with Josh and Emily doing some typical adulting, like helping Candice with a class quilt project or volunteering as the “Room Parent” for Candice’s class, but eventually take a weird, unexpected turn that either introduces strange characters or puts Josh and Emily in a weird situations. I got to say though, it’s a very effective formula as Quintel takes viewers in a weird new world full of insane characters and scenarios. With vengeful stripper clowns full of vengeance and that can’t resist a bet, an open house that puts those who enter in a Full House rip off they can’t escape, and a nightclub who takes Logan’s Run way too seriously, this series has no shortage of strangeness that any Regular Show fan will just love.
Close Enough also blends its themes of transitioning into adulthood and quintessential Quintel strangeness to create some amazing humor and well-aimed shots at pop culture. Hearing lines about Josh being excited that his shopping coupons are organized, that Candice getting dinner for herself is just ordering something on Grubhub, and Candice thinking that more modern skate shops just look like Apple stores were great and it’s awesome how this series has a lot of relevant humor. Even the jokes they make about Pokémon Go not being played anymore and demented version of 90s toys are great. There’s even some great visual humor where recognizable characters and funny names of things pop up and it makes for a very comically rewarding re-watch. Also, I really love the more adult situations and language this series utilizes without it heading into “Mature” territory and it’s something that makes this series perfect for older teens and their parents.
One of the strongest aspects though is the voice work though, as Quintel and company really make the dialogue work and add a lot of chemistry with these characters. There’s no doubt that Josh sounds exactly like Mordecai, but he doesn’t come off like a clone because of how unique Quintel’s chemistry is with Walsh as Emily. These two are literally the most hilarious and cool parents ever as they have a very genuine connection, their desires to do the best they can for Candice makes them instantly lovable, and watching them triumphantly fail and succeed at trying to stay young at heart is a total blast. The opening to “Logan’s Run’d” is absolutely incredible and had me laughing from start to finish – honestly, it might be the definition of what this series is all about. Alex and Bridgette are also great supporting characters as them being divorce leads to some past issues coming out, which is always funny, and they’re just bizarre in general so any time they’re onscreen, you’re always wondering what they’re up to. Not to mention, Candice is a hilariously naïve angel and the situations she gets in is great – so long as no one gives her any candy.
Close Enough isn’t just the Regular Show clone it appears to be on paper, as Quintel takes that formula and puts a delightful millennial spin on it to create some strange and hilarious adventure into adulting. With tons of relatable theme that viewers will feel and an immense amount of strange scenarios and characters, Close Enough is the perfect show for any and every fan of Quintel’s that’s grown up and wants to stay young at heart.