Dexter’s Laboratory: Ego Trip

A nostalgic reflection on a forgotten cinematic gem

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Wyatt Titus

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Dexter’s Laboratory: Ego Trip

Dexter's Laboratory: Ego Trip Official Movie Poster from original release: 1999

Dexter's Laboratory: Ego Trip Official Movie Poster from original release: 1999

Cartoon Network

Dexter's Laboratory: Ego Trip Official Movie Poster from original release: 1999

Cartoon Network

Cartoon Network

Dexter's Laboratory: Ego Trip Official Movie Poster from original release: 1999

     Dexter’s Laboratory: Ego Trip is a forgotten masterpiece, a final gem from an era of television. This film was supposed to be the last episode of the long-running and critically acclaimed Dexter’s Laboratory. While this movie was mainly ignored by critics, the audience enjoyed the film so much that Cartoon Network decided to make a spinoff series continuing Dexter’s story.

     The plot of this film is quite profound, far more than one would expect from a cartoon special, invoking feelings of nostalgia for people who had been avid watchers of the series. The movie opens with striking contrast and music in the lab of Mandark, the villain of the series, where he is dashing about to a crescendoing orchestra in a lab that can only be described as sharp and menacing. This is an excellent metaphor for Mandark himself, who is a proud, dark and twisted genius: a perfect foil for Dexter.

      The film centers around Dexter’s strong desire to see his future self, bent on discovering how he may save the future. In his quest, Dexter must see all the stages of his life, including his lowest moments. This journey serves to slightly humble the boy genius. At the end of the film, Dexter lashes out, a young boy breaking free of the shell of a well-refined scientist.

     Dexter’s Laboratory: Ego Trip is a dark film that tells of desolate futures and dead dreams, but behind all of those miserable times, Dexter is exposed to distant bright tomorrows and a happy life after middle age. These dark ideas that a young child must confront are the main conflict of the movie, represented by a conquest with no stakes to rescue a Neurotomic Transmitter that Dexter has already saved in the future, making victory assured. This is not a happy movie, and the film benefits from that tone, truly stretching the bounds of this children’s show universe, and that’s what makes this one of my favorite films.