Genre: Sci-Fi Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 28 min.
Release Date: November 4th, 2008 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, Frank Welker
uturama: Bender’s Game” succeeds in continuing the much-loved series with alternatingly obvious and subtle spoofs on classic science-fiction, pop culture, and fantasy. The story itself is clearly cut up into parts that would have played on television with ease, therefore containing several extraneous subplots that don’t always fit perfectly, but the laughs come at a steady pace. Perhaps not as clever as the first of the quadrilogy of “Futurama” movies, this third chapter is still a vital part of the saga of hilarious alternate realities, imaginative universes, and out-of-this-world hijinks.
Leela (Katey Sagal) gets miffed when some space truckers insult the Planet Express, which leads to her participation in a Demolition Derby that totals Professor Farnsworth’s (Billy West) ship. As punishment, Leela is fitted with an anger-management neck restraint that delivers electric jolts every time she lets her emotions slip. But, of course, her heated defiance will eventually become a boon.
Meanwhile, Bender gets caught up in Dungeons & Dragons, struggling furiously to develop his imagination so he can compete with the children, Cubert (Kath Soucie) and Dwight (Phil LaMarr). In short time, Bender is unable to decipher fantasy from reality, insisting that his new identity is Titanius Anglesmith, Fancy Man of Cornwood – ensuring a pronouncing of insanity by officials and commitment to an asylum. He’s scheduled for a robotomy by Nurse Ratchet (Tress MacNeille), but uses his imagination (coupled with an anti-backwards crystal) to transport the group to a preternatural alternate reality where they play out roles similar to his Dungeons & Dragons game. At the root of it all is a centuries-old plot by the evil matriarch Mom (also Tress MacNeille), who has secured a way to force the galaxy to use Dark Matter (which is actually Fuzzler waste) as the sole source of fuel. And she’ll stop at nothing to prevent Farnsworth from offering up an alternative.
This hysterical feature-length episode in the “Futurama” series (which was split up into four separate episodes to help compose the fifth TV season, commissioned by Comedy Central) takes a cynical stab at Dungeons & Dragons (it won’t make you cool!), alongside constant riffs at pop culture, unintentionally well-timed politics, and the power of imagination – most of which lead to parodies of “The Lord of the Rings.” But aside from jokes at the expense of the Dixie Chicks, Gollum, Gandalf, the Three Stooges, infomercials, and more, “Bender’s Game” gets quality time to creatively spoof classic science-fiction (Bender is sent to the HAL Institute for Criminally Insane Robots, while jokes and twists from “Star Wars” abound). Because of the underlying intention of reworking the picture into shorts, the story involves too many unrelated ideas for one sensible plot, but it’s still as amusing as the previous two entries. And it admirably continues in the tradition of the groundbreaking animated show that seemed to have no shortage of clever sci-fi humor.
– Mike Massie