Invader Zim is still delightfully weird in ‘Enter the Florpus’

Thirteen years after the original series went off the air, Invader Zim is back and hilariously weird as ever in the Netflix movie, Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus. All the characters you loved as an edgy teenager are back, including GIR, the entire Membrane family, the adorable Minimoose, and, of course, Zim and Dib.

Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus

 

RELEASE DATE: 8/16/2019
CREATOR: Jhonen Vasquez
STREAMING: Netflix
Invader Zim is back and hilariously weird as ever in this fresh, high-stakes adventure.

The movie quickly acknowledges Invader Zim’s long absence from the airwaves, which turned out to be part of Zim’s latest evil plan: hiding in a toilet until Dib’s body wasted away as he sat in front of his Zim monitoring system. Sadly for Zim, he’s forgotten phase 2 of his plan to take over the Earth, which leads to some zany, panicked running around as he tries to figure it out, with the Tallest on hold in the background.

Zim discovers that the Tallest aren’t coming to Earth after all and falls into a depressive funk just as Dib finally manages to catch him. Feeling sorry for Zim because his relationship with the Tallest reminds him of his relationship with his own dad, Professor Membrane, Dib proposes working together. He’ll use Zim to show the world that aliens exist at the unveiling of his father’s new project, the Membracelets. It’s not entirely clear what Zim gets out of this, but he agrees.

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The Membracelets are basically a jab at iPhones, intended for “apps and world peace,” and the roaring, easily led crowd is a standard critique of consumerism and groupthink. It’s a bit hamfisted, and a more subtle presentation would have been more effective, but it still gets the point across. Membrane plans to have a ring of Membracelet-wearing children hold hands and circle the Earth on Peace Day in order to harness the special energy they give off and create the greatest peace anyone has ever known. Zim, of course, double-crosses Dib by kidnapping Membrane, modifying the Membracelets and locking Dib and Gaz away with a clone of their father who bears a worrying resemblance to Futurama’s Dr. Zoidberg. 

It’s here that we see the true power of Minimoose. More than a cutely inept sidekick, Minimoose is actually a weapon of mass destruction, capable of charging the Membracelets with enough cosmic energy to tear open a portal across the universe. Zim uses this portal to teleport the Earth, putting it directly in the Tallest’s path. As the Tallest are averse to turning, their only option now is to blow up the Earth. Tearing open this portal also has the terrible side effect (other than, you know, impending alien invasion) of opening a Florpus, a multi-dimensional anomaly that swallows anything within reach and merges realities. Despite the fact that the Florpus is visible, Zim refuses to accept that it’s real and thinks Dib and Gaz’s attempts to fix it are just an effort to foil his plan.

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More blasts from the past follow when Dib and Gaz have to convince Tak’s ship to work with them in order to rescue their father from alien prison Moo-Ping 10 and save Earth. Several epic chases and showdowns follow, ending with some amazing reality-merging bits that cycle through media styles, including a few seconds of the cast as photo-realistic dogs. What saves the day is a half-serious, half-lampooning nod to a classic genre trope: the dimwitted underling siding with the heroes because they’re nicer to him than his master, all thanks to the power of love. Well, and meat. Zim’s unfortunate reaction to meat also plays a part.

Other than the slightly heavy-handed social commentary, Invader Zim: Enter The Florpus may actually be funnier than the original series, with tighter writing and surprisingly heartwarming bits. The Netflix special balances just the right amount of nostalgia with a fresh, escalating plot that raises the stakes far beyond where they were in the series. With Enter the FlorpusInvader Zim has matured without losing any of the elements that endeared it to subculture teens in the first place.

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Siobhan Ball

Siobhan Ball

Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist, and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and bi.org