A Look Back at ‘Bebe’s Kids’ – Back When Animated Movies Tried to be Hip

Bébé's Kids (1992) - IMDb

Bebe’s Kids is not the most popular (or well-regarded) movie that has come out in the 90s, but it came at a time when rap and hip/hop were trending on the radio, black comedians were becoming box-office attractors, and animation was starting to be seen as more for adults than children. Though, at first glance, you might think that this try-to-be-hip animated comedy was made for kids, with its simplistic hand-drawn style, edgy attitude, and juvenile humor. In reality, it was based around one simple stand-up act by late comedian Robin Harris. I didn’t know who Robin Harris was before I found out about Bebe’s Kids, but his most famous routine was about the titular kids and how they would annoy them on a date he would go on with his girlfriend. Apparently, the skits were so popular, that Paramount saw potential to make a movie based around that routine. The movie, however, did not do well, critically, or financially.

The premise is simple! Robin Harris (Voiced by Faizon Love) meets a fine-looking woman named Jamika (Voiced by Vanessa Bell Calloway) at a funeral, and wants to date her. Though in order to impress her, he agrees to take her and her child (Voiced by Wayne Collins Jr.) to an amusement park called “Fun World” (Originally Disneyland in the stand-up act, but was changed due to legal reasons). Sounds like a piece of cake, right? Turns out, Jamika’s friend Bebe’s kids (Voiced by Marques Houston, Jonell Green, and Tone Loc) are joining too, and they have a reputation for being the most rotten kids in town, causing anyone in the neighborhood who sees them to panic; not even the police can deal with them. Alas, this is Robin’s problem as the kids spend most of the movie acting out, wreaking havoc, and destroying the park, which tests his patience as he tries to spend the day with Jamika. Add in a jealous ex-wife (Voiced by Myra J.), tight security guards resembling the C.I.A., and sentient animatronics, along with a few hip-hop numbers here and there, Robin’s day will be more than just a walk in the park.

After revisiting Bebe’s Kids on Netflix a few days ago, I was not surprised by the quality of the animation and how poorly simplistic it was. Most animated movies of the early 90s had animation that still stands the test of time decades later. Yet that is not the case of Bebe’s Kids. It feels more like a movie that should have been released on television instead of theaters. The age of the art shows with each frame. Of course, that would be forgiven if the humor wasn’t awkward at times. Admittedly, it can be fun to watch the kids take charge and destroy everything, yet that is what Bebe’s Kids has going for it.

Apparently, it had a cult following in the early 2000s, as it was popular on cable. I even first watched it on BET when I heard it was on. I do see Bebe’s Kids as an easy watch if one needs to relax and there is nothing else to view.

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