Futurama: Bender’s Big Score (2007)
Futurama: Bender’s Big Score (2007)

Genre: Sci-Fi Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 28 min.

Release Date: November 27th, 2007 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Dwayne Carey-Hill Actors: Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Phil LaMarr, Lauren Tom, David Herman, Dawnn Lewis, Kath Soucie, Frank Welker

 


 

T

he many adventures of the Planet Express and its delightfully eccentric crew of aliens, mutants, and humans, get a shiny new comeback in “Futurama: Bender’s Big Score,” a feature-length animated production that kicks off the newly reinstated television series. After a much-too-long hiatus due to cancellation by the Fox network (Fox is ridiculed immediately at the opening scene) “Futurama” is back in all its sci-fi comedy glory, along with all of the characters and voice actors for which the previous four seasons became famous. While the film slows at several points (pacing conversions from TV episodes to feature length or vice versa are always problematic), the overall entertainment value is pleasingly faithful to the original cartoons.

Leela (Katey Sagal), Philip J. Fry (Billy West), Professor Hubert Farnsworth (also West), Dr. Zoidberg (West as well), Bender (John DiMaggio), Hermes Conrad (Phil LaMarr), and Amy Wong (Lauren Tom) visit a nude planet during a routine delivery. While there, they all become victims of spam, while Bender is overtaken by a robot mind-control virus. This allows a trio of evil Scammer aliens to swindle ownership of the company out from under Farnsworth, leaving the team swiftly unemployed.

Not content with the boundaries of contemporary greed, the aliens locate a paradox-free time travel device – secretly hidden in a tattoo on Fry’s rear – that allows them to use Bender to go back in time and rob ancient civilizations of their riches. Nibbler, the cuddly pet that accompanies the crew, reveals himself to be a super-intelligent protector of Earth to warn the aliens not to misuse the time travel device – for dire consequences are sure to arise. Ignoring the tiny creature, the Scammer aliens, Bender, and Fry travel through time repeatedly, causing countless paradoxes and multiple copies of each of them to coexist – all while trying to win back Earth.

The result would actually be more enjoyable as 3-4 episodes split up, since there aren’t enough laughs to cover the entire running time (a sharp irony considering that the producers’ goals involve eventually airing the movie in a disunited form). However, the brilliant spoofs of science-fiction films, concepts, and characters are still present, and when the grand jokes do surface, they are well worth it. Al Gore makes a cameo appearance as himself, to mock his interest in the environment, Richard Nixon’s severed head runs the country, and Torgo’s Executive Powder is a miracle chemical that is useful in every situation. The familiar faces and voices of Scruffy the janitor, Tinny Tim, Robot Santa, Kwanzabot, Hedonismbot, and Zapp Brannigan all return to appease the fans who have anticipated revisiting the hilarious exploits of these colorful roles.

The storyline itself is hysterically labyrinthine, with its mind-boggling and not-so-paradox-free time traveling, which leads to just as many loopholes as it does solutions. But 1000 years into the future, the eccentric cast doesn’t need reason or logic to guide their decisions or existences. The more ideas that don’t make sense, the better it is, as it lends to the general parody of all time travel concepts and exaggerated theoretical futurism. With Panda hunting reserves, countless references to other episodes, the fan-favorite Hypnotoad, full musical sequences a la “Family Guy” (as well as a specific stab at that show), 100 gold Death Stars, and a decapitated Hermes, “Futurama: Bender’s Big Score” is a perfect companion piece to the ever popular TV series, recently – and thankfully – revived by 30th Century Fox.

– Mike Massie

  • 8/10