‘Happy Happy Joy Joy’ Filmmakers on Tackling the Complicated History of ‘Ren & Stimpy’

     February 4, 2020

One of the many documentaries to world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story. Co-directed by Ron Cicero and Kimo Easterwood, the extremely well-made doc tells the story of one of the most influential animated series in television history: Ren & Stimpy. Using interviews with the people that made the show – including creator John Kricfalusi – and not turning away from the recent allegations that have caused the show to be looked at in a new light, the documentary is a fantastic behind-the-scenes examination at what led Ren &Stimpy to become an overnight part of the cultural zeitgeist in the early 1990’s. No matter how much you think you know about Ren & StimpyHappy Happy Joy Joy will still be an eye-opening experience. For more on the documentary, you can read Dave Trumbore’s glowing review.

Shortly after seeing the film I sat down with Ron Cicero and Kimo Easterwood for a wide-ranging interview. They shared some great stories about the making of the film and doing all the things you shouldn’t do when making a movie. Plus, they revealed some of the many things that ended up on the cutting room floor, what were some of the things that surprised them about the making of the show, how they shot for six-months without having the rights, how John Kricfalusi changed everything in the animation world, future projects, and more.

kia-supper-suite-marbl-toronto-logo-sundance-2020Finally, we have to thank our presenting partner, the Kia Telluride SUV, which was recently named the 2020 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year. Additional thanks to support sponsors Glenfiddich Scotch, Peroni Beer, Marbl Toronto, mou footwear, ic! Berlin sunglasses and clothing lines, Laundry by Sheli Segal and Orginal Penguin.

Check out what they had to say in the player above, and below is exactly what we talked about.

Ron Cicero and Kimo Easterwood:

  • What is it like being at Sundance?
  • What is the documentary about?
  • How making the film must have been a huge learning experience.
  • happy-happy-joy-joy-the-ren-stimpy-story-image

    Image via Sundance

    Where did the idea for the doc come from?

  • When they decided to make the film were they nervous others would also try and do it?
  • How they shot for six months without having the rights to Ren & Stimpy.
  • How they had two complete versions of the film and then the news about John Kricfalusi came out.
  • How tough was it to get an interview with John Kricfalusi?
  • How did they get financing?
  • How much ended upon the cutting room floor?
  • How do they see the legacy of Ren & Stimpy after making the doc?
  • What were some of the things that surprised them about the making of the show?
  • What would have happened if the network asked John Kricfalusi for less new episodes?
  • How John Kricfalusi changed everything in the animation world with the show.
  • When did they finish the doc?
  • Have they started thinking about their next documentary?

Image via Sundance

Here’s the official synopsis for Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story:

HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY is the story of the rise and fall of one of the most influential animated series in the history of television. It’s the story of a group of talented and dedicated artists whose incredible work brought to life two of the most beloved characters of all time — Ren & Stimpy. It’s also a cautionary tale of artistic genius gone awry. The controversial creator of the groundbreaking show, John Kricfalusi, both caused and experienced trauma that deeply affected his work and relationships. Through archival footage, show artwork, and interviews with the artists, actors, and executives behind the show, co-directors Ron Cicero and Kimo Easterwood artfully illuminate the joy, beauty, and lasting impact of Ren & Stimpy, as well as the dual sides of the show’s creator, a man who is both a brilliant animator and storyteller as well as a deeply flawed person.


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