The Novice Cinephile

Exploring the world of cinema one film at a time.

Thank you to Netflix for providing access for early review.

We are headed back to the Inkwell Isles for more wacky adventures with Cuphead and Mugman! Things will be a bit different because you won’t be needing your gaming console or controller this time. The Cuphead Show! is the latest in a line of many video games making their way to our screens through movies and TV shows. Netflix is already leading the pack with shows like The Witcher and Arcane, changing the narrative around video game adaptations. Can Cuphead join its predecessors and officially break the video game curse?

Cuphead is a classic run and gun action game sporting a classic 1930s cartoon style. The game stars Cuphead and his brother Mugman as they face off against the Devil himself. The Netflix series is very similar to the original game but changes the lore a bit to fit the show’s story structure and allows for more random adventures.

Right to Left: Mugman and Cuphead.

The video game was shooting for a classic Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat aesthetic. However, The Cuphead Show! is leaning more modern, feeling more like a successor to the Animaniacs than those 1930s shorts. Our main cast of Cuphead (Tru Valentino), Mugman (Frank T. Todaro), Elder Kettle (Joe Hanna), King Dice (Wayne Brady), and the Devil (Luke Millington Drake) bring a new sense of energy and life to the world of Cuphead. We meet new characters and travel to different locations as chaos ensues. Each episode is roughly 15-minutes in length and sees Cup and Mugsy getting into all sorts of trouble.

The show takes full advantage of the characters and levels from the games and consistently brings a smile to your face. Its mix of slapstick and musical numbers keeps you interested, especially with the update to the story. Cuphead and Mugman get greedy and gamble with the Devil in the original game, ultimately losing and repaying that debt. It’s okay for an indie video game storyline, but it makes the two operate in a bit of a grey area. However, in the Netflix series, Cup and Mugsy get scammed at a Carnival (Appropriately named Carn-EVIL), and now Cup’s soul belongs to Satan. This small change makes the line of good and evil crystal clear and makes the two boys out as lovable idiots instead of greedy jerks.

Right to Left: Cuphead, Chalice, and Mugman.

The Cuphead Show! still does have a few minor issues. It thrives because of its shorter runtime, and so it packs a ton into each episode. However, some plot lines are a bit redundant. It doesn’t serve Netflix’s binge model well, so watching in two or three-episode bursts would allow the jokes to breathe a bit better. Also, the relationship between Cup and Mugsy is excellent, but it got a bit stale for me as the season reached its end. Thankfully, they added Ms. Chalice, played by the incredible Grey Griffin. She added that much-needed shakeup to the status quo as the season reached its conclusion. Hopefully, a second season cleans up some of these minor issues.

The Cuphead Show! is nearly a perfect video game adaptation. The characters are fun, the world is vibrant, and the music gets stuck in your head. It harkens back to old legends and creates the perfect Saturday morning cartoon. If you’re looking for fun and a dash of heebie-jeebies, this is the show for you!

The Cuphead Show! will be served on February 18th, 2022. Only on Netflix.

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