tek's rating:

Operation: Z.E.R.O., on Cartoon Network
IMDb; Max; TV Tropes; Wikia; Wikipedia

Caution: spoilers.

Codename: Kids Next Door is an interesting case: I love the concept, and I think some of the episodes are quite good, but others are just sort of "meh." I mean, I don't think I could say I ever really dislike it, but after watching the series for awhile, I found that often enough, I simply wasn't that interested. So, I fell out of the habit of watching it on a regular basis, though I might tune in for a few minutes now and then while channel surfing. On rare occasions I might even watch a whole episode, or sometimes stumble into an episode in the middle and wish I would've seen the whole thing. But whatever, it's not a show I care too much about. I can take it or leave it, you know, and mostly leave it, even if that means I probably end up missing some episodes I would've quite liked.

However, the show's first ever TV movie, "Operzation: Z.E.R.O." (Zero Explanation Reveals Origins), was really, really great, even if you're only a casual, occasional sort of fan of the show. If you're completely unfamiliar with the show, it may not be that great, but if you know the basics (see my review of the series), the movie should totally blow you away.

It begins with a flashback to a time when Pappy, the evil king of the world, had enslaved all children to make tapioca for him. His two sons went off exploring, and discovered a hidden chamber within a tree (the Treehouse of Coolness), which contained 2x4 technology, as well as the Book of KND, which was an instruction manual for battling adult tyranny. One of the boys didn't want to disobey their father, because he said they had zero chance of winning. But the other started a rebellion, saying he'd show them what the numbuh zero can do... and became Numbuh Zero, who freed the other kids, destroyed the tapioca factory, defeated Pappy, and founded "the Seventh Age of KND." (Which rather makes me wonder about the previous six ages, but perhaps that's a story- or stories- for future movies.)

However, back in the present, most KND operatives consider Numbuh Zero and the Book of KND to be myths. But one operative firmly believes in the legends- Numbuh One. And then... a great many of KND's enemies attack the Kids Next Door Seriously Cool Museum of Artifacts and Stuff (which was run by Numbuh 101, a total fanboy who was celeb-crazy over the illustrious Sector V), while Stickybeard and a fleet of pirate ships attack the Moonbase. Sector V fights off the invaders at the museum, before heading up to the Moonbase to fight off the pirates in a effing awesome space battle. However, Numbuh 362 was not happy about Numbuh 1 ignoring orders to report to Moonbase immediately, because she felt the attack on the museum was merely a diversion. But Numbuh 1 felt it necessary to protect the museum, because it was full of Numbuh Zero artifacts. Numbuh 362 said she'd been going to offer him the position of Global Tactical Officer, but because he's so reckless, she instead gave the promotion to Numbuh 86.

However, it turned out the attack on the Moonbase was actually the diversion, and the real objective had been to steal the KND recommissioning module (said to have been created by Numbuh Zero himself) from the museum. It could be used to restore the memories of any former KND operatives, even adults. So Sector V headed to the Convention Center to retrieve the module, despite Numbuh 362's objections that they should take time to formulate a plan. At the Center, Father addressed all the assembled villains, and used the module on Grandfather (aka Pappy, who is the father of Father- one of the two boys from the opening flashback), to restore his memories and his powers. But then Grandfather surprised Father by rejecting him, because of course, Father had been unable to destroy the Kids Next Door on his own. And he'd always liked Father's older brother anyway, even if he had defeated Grandfather all those years ago.

So, the movie's got some family issues going on. Father has daddy issues, and a sibling rivalry. Oh, and later on, Numbuh One will do some bonding with his own dad... But that's getting ahead of myself. While Father leaves after being rejected, Grandfather announces his plan to the remaining villains to agify anyone who's ever been a kid, into senior citizombies, to produce tapioca. This of course includes the adult villains, who aren't happy about this development, but once they've been turned into zombies, they don't do alot of thinking about such things, and instead just mindlessly serve Grandfather. Once all the Kids Next Door have been agified, Grandfather wants to find and destroy the Book of KND, in order to eliminate hope from the world, and prevent future generations of potential Kids Next Door arising to oppose him.

Numbuhs 2, 3, and 4 manage to escape the Convention Center, though Numbuh 5 was agified, and the same began happening to KND operatives the world over, and treehouses were turned into tapioca factories. Numbuhs 3 and 4 return to their treehouse to get some technology Numbuh 2 needs to modify some... age-defying "birthday suits" or whatever (don't worry, it's not what it sounds like), to protect the remaining Kids Next Door against Grandfather's aging powers. Meanwhile, Numbuh 1 stays behind at the Center wallowing in his self-doubt because of his failure. But before long, he decides to track down Numbuh Zero and recommission him (since Father had thrown away the recommissioning module in frustration). He also used Numbuh 101's KNDNA tracking device.

Well, Numbuhs 3 and 4 ended up getting agified, as did the Tommy, and a bunch of Sector V's hamster friends. And all the Kids Next Door on the Moonbase. Things were going quite badly. But Numbuh 1 managed to find Numbuh Zero (whose identity is a major revelation, if somewhat predictable), and Numbuh 1 got at least as fanboyish over him as Numbuh 101 was over Numbuh 1 and his team. Numbuh Zero takes Numbuh One to get help from Numbuh Zero's brother. There's also another shocking revelation about the identities of the long-lost Sector Z, whose memories were restored temporarily, so they could assist Numbuhs 1, 0, and Zero's brother in defeating Grandfather.

While Numbuh Zero and his brother (who isn't much help, actually) face Grandfather on Earth, Numbuh One heads back to the Moonbase with Sector Z... but they have to fight Numbuh One's own agified team members! Of course, in the end, Numbuhs One and Zero save the day, and everything is restored to normal... factories become treehouses, senior citizombies become kids (and normal adults), and Grandfather is decommissioned... but so is Numbuh Zero. (But all this makes me wonder, how Grandfather could have been recommissioned, unless he himself had once been a Kid Next Door... perhaps from the 6th Age of KND. Well, perhaps we'll see, someday...) Anyway, Numbuh One learns valuable lessons about family and friends and teamwork, and stuff like that.

So... the whole movie is totally cool, and delightfully full of great humor and drama and... you know, shocking revelations... and stuff. And that's about all I can think to say....

See also Codename: Kids Next Door specials

animated TV movies index