Few things are more surreal than hearing Michael Douglas say, “I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam I Am.”
Yet that’s part of the enjoyment that comes from Netflix’s new “Green Eggs and Ham” animated series, which made its way to the platform on Nov. 8.
“Green Eggs and Ham” takes the classic Seuss story of Sam I Am (Adam DeVine) and Guy Am I (Michael Douglas) and elaborates upon it in 13 episodes.
The show follows Sam and Guy, who are trying to return an escaped Chickeraffe, a rare animal, to its home. They receive the help of E.B. (Ilana Glazer), a girl who loves animals, and her mother Michellee (Diane Keaton).
The entire series is narrated by Keegan-Michael Key.
Along with the main characters, the supporting characters feature celebrity voices, such as Tracy Morgan, John Turturro and Billy Eichner.
With little characterization in a book containing variations of the same 50 words, “Green Eggs and Ham” sets out to establish Guy and Sam’s characters.
Guy is now a prospective inventor who is losing hope; all his inventions inevitably explode. Sam is an adventurous “wildlife rescuer.”
Each episode is titled with a word that appears in the book, like “Fox,” “Box,” “Here” and “There,” with the word of the title tying into the episode either by being mentioned verbally or using an actual character or object.
The voice performances that each actor gives come across as genuine, with character voices matching their appearances near perfectly.
Michael Douglas as Guy Am I is especially well-suited, as he brings a gruff, tired voice to a character that has lost hope trying to be a success in life. DeVine also brings a good range to Sam I Am. DeVine is able to pull off the energetic and obnoxious Sam but is capable of being calm when needed.
The show is surprisingly well-written when compared to past adaptations of Dr. Seuss’ works. Jokes are still present as well-structured jokes and slapstick comedy, relying less on crude humor or references.
Even when a reference rears its head, it is done so in a very fitting way. One of the more prominent examples is when Squeaky (Daveed Diggs), a mouse, parodies Jean Valjean from “Les Misérables” and sings a song similar to that of “I Dreamed a Dream.”
Not all the jokes are a winner, though, especially those of the character Gluntz (Jillian Bell), a rookie for a group known as the BAD GUYS. Gluntz is written as the comedic relief for a lot of scenes with her serious partner McWinkle (Jeffrey Wright), but the performance by Bell often falls flat when delivering jokes.
The performances are nothing, however, without the animation to accompany it.
With an average budget of $5.5 million per episode, the quality of the animation is evident. All the character animation is hand-drawn; frame-by-frame animation stylized with rough, sketchy outlines to replicate the look of pencil drawings.
While the vehicles and a large majority of objects are animated with 3D models, the fluidity of the animation carries through these as well, showing objects and vehicles bending and turning in a cartoonish, slapstick style.
Beautifully animated and at times oddly heart-warming, “Green Eggs and Ham” is a standout product among the wave of Netflix originals being churned out every month. The care and effort from the producers and actors is display throughout the entire show.