STUDIO: Paramount / MTV
MSRP: $72.99
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 75 minutes

• Nothing for the standalone films

The Pitch

Daria is on summer vacation, but she’s worrying about her final year before college.

The Humans

Tracy Grandstaff, Wendy Hoopes, Julián Rebolledo, Russell Hankin and Nora Laudani

The Nutshell

Daria hit this weird patch around 2001. The show was slipping in the ratings and MTV was giving the wrap-it-up signal. Hell, it almost seems foreign to talk about a cable network taking a chance on a show that required a ten month production schedule for a single season. When Season 4 ended, the groundwork for a proper finale had formed. Daria and Jane were on the outs over their mutual boyfriend Tom. Quinn was facing a future minus a collegiate education. Hell, Daria was starting to realize that she was a caring person and needed some emotional return from others. The stage was set for a proper goodbye and the first Daria Movie kicked it off.

An ass tight enough to grab a deuce off Roger Sterling’s favorite chair.

The Lowdown

Daria – Is It Fall Yet serves as the first leg of the official Daria finale. The end was coming for my favorite animated High Schooler, as she had to take the final steps towards adulthood. Season 4 ended with Daria kissing Tom, as he had previously broken off his relationship with Jane Lane. Jane was going to spend the summer at Art Camp, as she tried to focus on her passion. Daria tries to avoid everyone during the summer, but her mother makes her sign up for Mr O’Neill’s freaky hippie camp for kids. Then, there’s Quinn’s efforts to get into her choice college while trying to deal with her budding intellectualism. Carson Daly, Dave Grohl and Bif Naked did some supporting voice work. 

Rewatching these Daria movies, I came to realize just how much MTV has failed teens over the last decade. While Daria never approached the realism of a Degrassi, it’s still a much saner world than anything you would see on The Hills or Jersey Shore. Issues of emotional reflection, personal sexuality and intellectualism are addressed throughout the rather short film. When was the last time you saw an MTV show deal with a character realizing that they might be a douchebag and that they have to become a better person? Daria and Jane fight over Tom, but Tom isn’t shown as this glorious teen God that makes everyone’s problems go away. Tom isn’t a Jake Ryan that’s going to show up with a cake and a Porsche on your 16th birthday. The guy is a little self-centered, while using his wealth and knowledge to find ways to score a little academic poon.

The movie’s key moment comes with Jane’s sexual discovery at Art Camp. When Jane starts to blow away the head counselor, she garners the attention of female camper Alison. Alison is intrigued by Jane’s talent and tries to seduce her. Jane is frightened by this approach, yet she can’t help to wonder about her sexual tastes. The back and forth with Alison also reveals that Jane doesn’t know much about the social politics of the world that Daria seems to fight. Sexuality, money and status are all tools used for control and personal ambition means nothing. Watching Jane learn this is so harsh that you almost forget you’re watching an animated show.

In regards to Daria, the character finally starts to pay off her arc started way back in the pilot. While she was willing to follow her emotional side by taking Tom away from Jane, she also realizes that there are consequences for ignoring her brain. She doesn’t really know Tom that well and his personal quirks are rubbing her the wrong way. Yet, Tom resembles the first grasp of normalcy in a life dedicated to being a loner. The difficult balance of trading friendship for man candy almost feels like too much, but this awkward balance is what will end up pushing Jane and Daria through the final season.

Both of their faces say so much.

The Package

The final disc in the set doesn’t really come with any extra special features for the Daria movies. While this first film is presented uncut, some might wonder why it wasn’t placed back into the seasonal rotation. Chronologically, the film takes places shortly after the end of Season 4 and about a few weeks before the start of Season 5. I guess it was a matter of policing space on the Season 4 discs, but I think that a little creative juggling could’ve helped to make the show move a lot smoothly on DVD. I mean, it’s not like it’s important step in the evolution of the title character.  End of short rant.

8.8 out of 10