A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Futurama: Bender’s Big Score

June 21, 2010

Futurama: Bender’s Big Score

I have something I must confess. I never watched Futurama during its original run on Fox. I didn’t start watching every episode until it was being re-broadcast on Cartoon Network. So in part I was one of those people who was responsible for the show being cancelled. Which is an awful thing to think, because we quickly became enormous fans of the show once we started watching it. But then again, the fact that I did watch every episode on Cartoon Network over and over (well except for Jurassic Bark – I can only ever watch that episode once in a lifetime) and bought all four seasons on DVD means that in some small part I was responsible for the show’s miraculous resuscitation.

This movie represents what was, sort of, the start of season five of Futurama. Indeed after the four direct to video movies were released they were sliced up into sixteen episodes of the show and broadcast on Comedy Central. As such it was highly anticipated in our household. Two years after the show was cancelled it finally returned, and you can tell, watching this movie, that they put a lot of effort into making the big return a memorable event.

From the very beginning this movie is a love note to the fans of Futurama. It’s an hour and forty minutes of pure fan service. There are references to just about every great episode from the old series from The Why of Fry, Luck of the Fryish, and yes, even, Jurassic Bark with all their info about Fry’s life in the past to A Head in the Poles and the two X-Mas episodes. Virtually every character from the series has a cameo of some kind (and those that do not appear are featured in the other three movies.) And the movie has a great sense of humor about itself. Take, for example, the opening scene, where the movie goes all meta as Dr. Farnsworth explains that everybody is fired because two years ago Planet Express was cancelled by the Box Network. Then they get renewed and Leela asks “What does this mean for us and our many fans?” (She’s standing in front of a wall of electric fans as she asks this.)

The plot involves the entire population of Earth being scammed out of every penny and eventually out of the planet itself by a trio of nudist aliens. (Yeah, more fan service. There’s a scene on the nude beach planet where the whole cast gets naked.) The primary tool the scammers use is the “universal time code” which they discover is tattooed on Fry’s ass. By repeatedly sending Bender into the past they steal every valuable piece of art ever created on Earth. Then things get confusing. They decide to eradicate Fry to destroy the time code and he flees into the past, followed by Bender, whom they have control over because he downloaded an obedience virus while trying to download porn.

There’s lot of confusing talk of time paradoxes and time travel, and one major central paradox involving Fry’s trip into the past. My one gripe with the movie is that the rampant time travel doesn’t quite work as well as it has on the show in the past. Everything appears to be wrapped up at the end of the movie, but it’s not as neat as Roswell that Ends Well. Indeed the central plot point of the film, involving Fry duplicating himself in the past via the time code, has never sat well with me. If you follow the looping time paths it just doesn’t make sense.

But I’ll forgive it that, because if you just let go and enjoy the movie for the fun thing that it is and don’t try to understand the time-line it’s a really great time. There’s so much to love about this movie. Like Mark Hamill as the Hanukkah Zombie. Like the whole sub-plot with Fry having to come to terms with Leela’s romance with new character Lars. Like the fantastic cameo by Al Gore as himself. (His third appearance on Futurama.) It’s just great joke after great joke, and all these familiar faces showing up and taking part in the action. It’s as though they distilled all the best things out of four seasons of the show into a single movie.

For the most part it works, and I enjoyed it enormously. I can’t wait to see what they do with the show’s sixth season on Thursday!

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June 21, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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