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“M.O.D.O.K.” Review: Stop-motion + Marvel = Fine

Marvel and Hulu teamed up with the animation studio behind “Robot Chicken” to bring the big-headed supervillain M.O.D.O.K. and his world to life. Does it work? Sure.

“M.O.D.O.K.” focuses on the titular cranially endowed yet emotionally hindered villain’s personal and professional lives as both crumble around him (due in large part to his own actions). 

Combining a lower-tier antagonist with a celebrity-like series star and co-creator Patton Oswalt may seem like an odd mix on paper, and it wouldn’t be totally wrong. While he delivers funny lines here and there, I wasn’t all that impressed with his work overall. Don’t get me wrong, his stand up material is great comedy, and his turn as Remy in “Ratatouille” is a classic. Unfortunately, Oswalt is just sort of fine as the Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing.

Part of me wonders if this show would’ve gotten off the ground without a big name like Oswalt’s attached to it. Too often, animated projects pass over dedicated voice actors in favor of celebrity name recognition. Like any performance medium, the actors are only as good as the lines they say. “M.O.D.O.K.” gathers a multitude of A-and-B-list Hollywood talents only for them to turn out serviceable performances.

Ben Schwartz seemed to be on autopilot as M.O.D.O.K.’s wacky, energetic, teenage son Lou, without any real separation from his role as Dewey Duck on the recent “DuckTales” reboot. 

One celebrity casting choice I can support, however, was Jon Daly as the criminally underutilized Super Adaptoid, M.O.D.O.K.’s quirky shape-shifting robot roommate. Although Daly has minimal screen time, he still consistently delivered the funniest lines of each episode. 

The stop-motion animation, despite having great moments like the mad scientist fight in episode five, seemed superfluous. While watching “M.O.D.O.K.,” I got the sense that no part of the overall structure or story would change if the producers decided on a different form of animation. As it’s used in “M.O.D.O.K.”, stop-motion is a novelty –– a way to draw in viewers in an attempt to stand out –– but ultimately does nothing unique.

While I enjoyed watching “M.O.D.O.K.”, I wasn’t blown away by it. The writers clearly have more stories they would like to tell with these characters –– as demonstrated by Season One’s frustratingly abrupt ending –– and I would watch it.

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