Of all the shows to grace the late-night block of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, The Venture Brothers are easily part of their top tier. What began as a satire of Jonny Quest quickly transformed into a stylish, subversive, and exciting series that goes beyond parodies of retro comic books and cartoons. So when the show was unceremoniously canceled after Season 7, it didn’t feel right to leave behind this saga on a whimper. Radiant Is The Blood of the Baboon Heart brings the show to a close as a fitting send-off.
The film picks up right where Season 7 left off and, much like the show, it won’t slow down much to explain the context for newcomers. Hank Venture has gone missing, and The Monarch discovers he’s a blood relative of his nemesis, Doctor Thadeous Venture. There’s little time to process all this, however, as there’s a greater threat on the horizon. A mysterious new organization known as ARCH has been attacking Venture Industries and framing the villain, Dr. Mrs. the Monarch. In addition, Dean Venture hopes to finally answer a question that has plagued the series: Who is the mother of the Venture Brothers?
The film doesn’t miss a beat as creators Jackon Publick and Doc Hammer easily get back into their groove. Enough is going on with so many characters to play with that script is never dull. There are all sorts of bizarre asides, as with the Blackula hunter Jefferson Twilight finally getting to slay a gang of Blackulas and the magical Doctor Opheous entering a mental landscape dressed as Zardoz. Plotlines merge with Doc Venture’s latest smart device being hacked for terrorist plans and Brock Sampson trying to maintain relations with the OSI. And through it all is a deep lore that ends up in the most absurd spots.
There’s so much going on in The Venture Bros, yet it all comes together perfectly in the end. Even when the film does answer some big questions regarding lineage, it’s never quite the simple answer you’d expect. There’s always some darker twist behind it all that is ludicrous you can’t help but laugh. This is especially true with the leader of ARCH, Mantilla (Nina Arianda), who has the strangest grudges regarding relationships and status. The show’s unexpected and hilariously surprising nature has not diminished an ounce, especially with the slapstick sequence of various characters being flung about a room with electromagnetic energy.
Considering the characters assembled, it’s amazing how vast the Venture Bros tale has become. Noted voice actors like Clancy Brown, Dana Snyder, and JK Simmons return in a manner where it felt like they never left. The animation also doesn’t feel like it’s taken a step back, featuring the same level of crisp details in everything from the New York City skyline to the fantastical landscape of the Barbarella-fueled imagination. There’s even time for some aged pop culture back and forth, as when Monarch and Gary have a side conversation about confusing which songs were from Toto.
Radiant Is The Blood of the Baboon Heart is the fitting conclusion that Venture Bros deserved, going out on the highest note for an Adult Swim show that deserves no less. It’s still just as funny, clever, and colorful as ever, embracing the dorky nature of its bickering heroes/villains and slathering them with the satirical gaze of absurd realism in their conflicts and physics. It’s a film where characters can be overwhelmingly excited to use automatic grappling hooks, only to be proven how ineffective they are later. While this conclusion doesn’t exactly lock the door behind it, the film does a satisfying job sweeping up, where it’d be perfect to end the Venture Bros on a climax of revelation, reconciliation, and Doc Venture’s pants falling to reveal his penis to everybody.
Go Team Venture, indeed!