The official episode title, according to imdb, is “Grubby Longjohn’s Olde Tyme Revue,” which makes it sound like a whimsical Western episode about an old-fashioned show. In Disney’s online player, it’s just “Grubby Longjohn’s,” which makes it sound like a gross episode about dirty underwear. It is, in fact, a corny episode about family bonding.
The McGuire parents excitedly announce that the family is going to Grubby Gulch, to Lizzie’s horror and Matt’s excitement. Lizzie asks if they can go somewhere more mature, “like water-skiing, or France,” which amused me. But it’s Grubby Gulch for them.
Quick! If you had to write Lizzie’s best friend Miranda out of either the emotional series finale or a throwaway episode about the McGuires leaving town for a family vacation, which one would you choose? If you answered the latter, you’re clearly not on the production team for Lizzie McGuire! Miranda and Gordo sleep over the night before the trip, because they are coming along for some reason. Contractual obligation to include them in every episode, maybe? Lizzie says she’s dragging Miranda and Gordo along for emotional support. Cartoon Lizzie says doesn’t know how she’ll make it up to them. She ponders letting Miranda borrow her clothes for life and says “and I’ll probably have to marry Gordo.” Stuff like that is thrown in sometimes for no reason, I think just to keep the shippers happy.
After waking up at 5:30 a.m. and driving six hours, they make it to Grubby Gulch and are greeted by the obnoxious Grubby Longjohn himself. Sam, Jo, and Matt are all delighted; Lizzie and her friends are not.
Lizzie had promised Gordo and Miranda that they’d ditch the tourist trap for the mall immediately. I have no idea where a mall could be near Grubby Gulch, or how they’d get there. But Jo forbids it regardless. They get dragged around to various Grubby Gulch amusements like “Mighty Thunder” the mule and the janky, barely functioning “Shootout at Lazy Eye Stables.” I’m from Orlando, so I’m pretty immune to big theme parks, but I love hauntingly shitty theme parks and I love Grubby Gulch.
Lizzie, Gordo, and Miranda, however, do not.
Fascinatingly, Matt spends the entire episode thrilled by every aspect of Grubby Gulch and this actually makes him tolerable. He just runs around stuffing his face and gaping in wonder at everything and it’s a giant improvement over his normal nonsense.
The trio split off to get a snack and complain about how much Grubby Gulch sucks. Inside the snack shop, Lizzie orders popcorn from a dude whose nametag says “Hezekiah” but he says that’s just his work name. He introduces himself as Corey and starts flirting with Lizzie.
She’s very excited by this, which doesn’t make much sense to me because Corey looks like the poor man’s Justin Bieber’s cousin.
The girl behind the counter starts flirting with Gordo, and he tries to be smooth by making a joke about getting stuck with the dumb show name Clementine until she says that that’s her real name. But I guess romantic prospects are few around Grubby Gulch, because Corey asks Lizzie on a date and Clementine asks Gordo.
In another bit I liked, Gordo responds, shocked, “Yes! Good! Thank you!” Clementine says Miranda can go with her brother Heath, “the good-looking one in the family!” and Miranda can’t even pretend to play it cool at how excited that makes her.
So they set a date for 7:30 and head back to meet the McGuires for lunch, which was probably spoiled by the popcorn they just ate immediately before lunch. Lizzie assures Gordo and Miranda that they’ll be free after dark since there’s nothing to do at Grubby Gulch at night, but of course Sam bursts in to say he somehow managed to get tickets to Grubby Gulch’s only evening attraction, Grubby Gulch’s Olde-Tyme Revue, and of course it’s at 7:30.
As they sulk through a blacksmith demonstration, Lizzie decides on a plan: to pretend to have a great time all afternoon so her parents will believe them when they fake illness that night. They immediately perk right up and act super excited about everything. Jo, who immediately caught onto her kids’ sweet act two episodes ago, doesn’t catch on at all.
The family gets into costumes to take one of those old-timey portraits together and Lizzie keeps complaining about it even though that doesn’t fit with her plan at all. Matt spots an old portrait of their family on the wall. It’s not a great photoshop job.
They all reminisce about the good times they used to have at Grubby Gulch and Jo gets emotional because her kids are outgrowing all of the family activities they used to love. Lizzie feels guilty about her plan to ditch the revue, but they still go through with the plan, elaborately faking stomach sickness. Again, Jo doesn’t pick up on their chicanery.
They say they’re going back to the hotel room to sleep but slip off to meet their dates. Everyone is excited, but Lizzie decides to ruin everything by going back to hang out with her family at Grubby Gulch’s Olde-Tyme Review after all. She runs in just as her parents are complaining about the trip being kind of subpar that year. She gives a big speech about how it’s probably the last family vacation to Grubby Gulch but there’s lot of exciting firsts ahead, like her first prom and first driving lesson and first day of college and first time performing with her Italian doppelganger in front of a Colosseum full of adoring fans.
She has a great time and in a montage of photos from the night it’s revealed that she somehow got Gordo and Miranda to ditch the dates too, so she ruined their nights, too – and Clementine’s, Corey’s, and Heath’s. Lizzie’s an annoying character because if she were a good kid she’d never dream of doing things like faking ill to skip out on a date and if she were a bad kid she wouldn’t feel bad about it, but instead she’s somewhere in between, where her conscience always kicks in just in time for her to be a wet blanket and ruin something for someone else.
All that aside, this episode was enjoyable. I love Grubby Gulch! It’s my favorite fictional garbage theme park since Glove World.
Weird never-popular youth culture slang: Lizzie describes Grubby Gulch as both “dorkful” and “cheesemaster”
Notable fashion moments: Sometimes, as in the food fight episode, Lizzie wears really casual outfits, like sweatpants. Here, for a 6-hour road trip to the desert, she dresses to the nines at 5:30 a.m.
I know, it’s probably supposed to look vaguely Western-inspired. But it doesn’t look comfy for a long road trip!
I always enjoy the old-timey costumes at these things, even though I know they’re very unsanitary.
I believe Miranda’s costume was actually inspired by traditional Mexican clothing? We didn’t get a very good shot of it but it seems to be the case.
Other interesting tidbits: This episode was shot as #218, but I can’t tell if it’s supposed to be the summer after eighth grade (I assume not, as Gordo and Lizzie both date other people), the summer before eighth grade (this also seems weird, because Lizzie talks about going to high school soon), or just some random weekend.
Clementine looked familiar, so I looked her up and realized she was in Freaky Friday with Lindsay Lohan.
The gang in the shootout was called the “Dopple Gang,” which was a little groan-worthy to me. It’s not a very good pun at all. It’s barely a pun.
Matt wins a “Grubby Doll,” an action figure of Grubby Longjohn that says “There’s somethin’ wrong with the chili!” when you squeeze it. I love it. It’s not quite on the same level as gloves for a glove action figure, but it’s pretty good.
Sam excitedly asks the kids, “Who wants to go see the womenfolk make quilts?” and I laughed.
If they had to photoshop a picture of baby Hilary Duff onto something, I wish it could be this picture.