Opinion Brief

Allen Gregory: Jonah Hill's 'snotty' new animated series

Fox's latest cartoon comedy introduces audiences to the world's most pretentious 7-year-old. Not everyone is enchanté to meet him

On Sunday, Fox unveiled the latest addition to its powerhouse animated-comedy block which includes The Simpsons and Family Guy. The new show, Allen Gregory, stars Jonah Hill (Superbad, Moneyball) as the titular 7-year-old, a pretentious sophisticate who carries a briefcase, boasts of his friendship with Sandra Bullock, and swills Pinot Grigio at the lunch table while blustering about Charlie Rose. After Sunday's premiere, critics are bemoaning the series' failure to fulfill its potential. What went wrong?

The main character is unlikable: "If you've ever encountered a snotty 7-year-old, you're probably wondering why anybody would make a TV show about one," says Glenn Garvin at The Kansas City Star. That's the problem with Allen GregoryFamily Guy's Stewie Griffin is witty. South Park's Eric Cartman is "an amusing incarnation of the human id." But Allen is just a "smug, pretentious little twit" with no redeeming qualities. Whether he's sneering at other students or fantasizing disturbingly about his "largish, 60ish female principal," the character — and this show — "is not remotely entertaining.""The kid's not funny in Fox's Allen Gregory"

It's the other characters who miss the mark: As voiced by Jonah Hill, Allen's character is actually "a great little invention," says Matthew Gilbert at The Boston Globe. "I love the way [he] talks down to every adult he encounters, as if they're members of a lower species." Unfortunately, other aspects of the show stink. The supporting characters, including Allen's gay dads, rely on "dated stereotypes," while the jokes often misfire or quickly become repetitive."Allen Gregory draws on Hill's strengths"

Nothing much went wrong — the series is funny: The show fits right in with The Simpsons and Family Guy on Fox's Sunday night animation block, says Lori Rackl at the Chicago Sun-Times. Hill "nails it as the smug voice of Allen Gregory," and the "absurdity of an omniscient sophisticate still in short pants carries plenty of comedic potential," even if the show occasionally slips into maliciousness. Hill claims The Simpsons inspired him when he created the show, which is evident. Let's hope it continues to live up to that standard. "A Beavis and Butt-Head comeback? Uh… OK"

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