Brendon Small, Melissa Robbins, and Jason Penopolis are three filmmakers who devote the majority of their time to writing and starring in their own movies. There's one catch: they're only eight years old. Brendon, creative yet a slight control freak, is the real mastermind behind the films. Melissa is the most sensible of the group and keeps the three friends grounded. Jason is quite immature and very opinionated about the roles he receives in the movies they make.
Along with these three central characters are the soccer coach John McGuirk, who provides the kids with a lot of irresponsible advice, Brendon's mom Paula, who is a single mother trying her best to raise two children, and Walter and Perry, who are just two boys very fond of each other and are always seen together.
Each episode usually follows the same formula, a plot about Brendon, Melissa, and Jason shooting a new film + a plot about Coach McGuirk + a plot about Paula. The three storylines are generally either connected in some way or share a common theme. The home movie that the kids create is also usually reflective of the central plot of the entire episode.
The premiere of Home Movies aired April 26, 1999 on UPN. It used two somewhat-exceptional styles of production, Squigglevision and Retro-Scripting. Squigglevision made the outlines wiggle instead of the traditional stagnant lines seen in animation. Retro-Scripting describes how the actors would extemporize scenes based only on vague outlines, rather than having a complete and absolute script to follow.
Unfortunately, the show did not garner good ratings and was canceled by UPN after only five episodes. This, however, did not signal the end of the show; it was soon revived by Cartoon Network and aired on its new Adult Swim lineup. It completed its first season and was renewed for a second. The show dropped the Squigglevision and switched to Flash animation for a much more sleek appearance. Also, scripts were more closely followed, though improvisation was still present.
Though things were looking up for the series, ratings continually dropped. Its last episode, "Focus Grill," aired on April 4, 2004 and properly wrapped up the longer-than-expected run of Home Movies. The episode’s ending virtually confirmed that the series was over and had no chance of recovery.
In the series finale, Brendon, Melissa, and Jason present their home movie to a focus group made up of their classmates. Paula recruits Coach to help her set up a new grill.