A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 116 – Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder

Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder – June 24th, 2010

I think maybe the Futurama movies are sort of like the Star Trek movies. Every other one is good. Not that this one is bad, but it doesn’t do it for me quite as well as the first and third did. Sure, it’s got fun jokes and it’s a hell of a lot less ooky than the second, but it falls flat in a few places and I’m not sure exactly why. Maybe it’s the whole environmentalism message that seems to fluctuate between serious and silly, like the writers knew they didn’t want to make it into a complete joke but still wanted to play it for laughs. Same for the feminism part of the plot. But I’ll get to the feminism plot and why it’s not as ooky as the Yivo thing.

Unlike the previous movies, this one doesn’t feel choppy really. Sure, it’s got defined parts to it, but the transitions feel smooth. It plays out nicely as a whole, I’ll give it that. We start out with a montage of Mars Vegas before it’s blown up by the Wongs to make room for a bigger and better casino city on Mars. During construction Leela saves a nasty little muck leech from being paved over and we meet the Eco-Feministas, a group of pink tie-dye wearing women who shout hackneyed slogans and wave signs in protest of Leo Wong’s destruction of the environment. And his gender. When Wong blasts them Fry ends up with a piece from their leader’s necklace embedded in his head and becomes able to read thoughts. Which is where the other half of the plot shows up.

A group of folks in tin foil hats inducts Fry into the Legion of Madfellows, all of whom can also read minds. But hearkening back to earlier episodes, Fry’s brain is shown to be unreadable, which makes him the perfect agent against the Dark Ones; a mysterious race who can read minds and want to destroy all life. The Madfellows and the Eco-Feministas have a shared goal: Stop Leo Wong from destroying a violet dwarf star and a burgeoning life-filled planetoid near it. Fry goes to work as a double agent, infiltrating the Wongs from within the company and Leela joins the Feministas, transforming them from a laughable group of ineffective slogan shouters to the eco-scourge of Leo Wong. They also kill headless Agnew. By accident. Oops.

Anyhow, Fry’s working in secret to keep the Dark Ones from finding out the Madfellows’ plans and can’t tell Leela he’s really on her side. Leela convinces pretty much every female on the show except Mom and Mrs. Wong to join her and so the plot is set with the two groups fighting the Wongs and the Wongs and Nixon working on blowing up that violet dwarf star to make way for a gigantic miniature golf course. And also because the Dark Ones are telling Leo Wong what to do. It all ends with a big confrontation and a giant space manta thing and a lecture about respecting life and the implication that humans are endangered.

But you see what I mean about the plot all being one thing? Sure it starts in Mars Vegas and then after a while we leave it and all, but it’s all part of the same whole. The Wongs and the Feministas stay as two of the main focal points for the entire plot. We don’t stay in Mars Vegas, but the giant mini golf course is part of it. Fry’s telepathy comes from an encounter with the Feministas and in the end the Feministas and the Madfellows are linked anyhow. Even the muck leech Leela saved is part of the main plot. There’s a hell of a lot going on around it all to make it a full length movie, but despite that it plays as a single whole.

So it’s really a shame that it falls flat for me. I don’t want it to. The Feministas thing could have pissed me off royally, except that when Leela shows up she actually makes them effective and strong. They rally behind her and she gets LaBarbara and Amy to join in. Linda, one of the two news anchors, puts a stiletto heel in Morbo’s head and leaves the news desk to join too (leading to some good bits with her introducing the action she’s part of as if it’s news). Yes, it’s definitely played for laughs. Frida, the original leader, is a complete stereotype of an angry-but-foolish Woman With A Cause. I know the type they’re spoofing on and it makes me shake my head. But what saves this from my wrath is that Frida is only one part of the group. Sure, the movement has people who are better at coming up with things to say than things to do, but it’s also got people who are better at doing than saying. So unlike the second movie, this one doesn’t leave me feeling slightly slimy for enjoying it.

The trouble is that like the environmentalism message, the writers took something serious and played it for laughs but also made it serious at the same time and maybe one plot like that could have worked. Pick one, the feminist stuff or the environmentalist stuff. But two is too many. There’s too much serious and too much awareness that there are Messages. The laughs are good, but they don’t happen nearly enough. Sure, I’m smiling by the ending (which reminds me a lot of the end of MST3K season 7 – we’ll see if they use that tonight), but I wish I was smiling wider.

June 24, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , ,

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