Futurama: Bender’s Big Score
Directed by Dwayne Carey-Hill
Starring Billy West, John DiMaggio, Katey Sagal
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Release date: Nov. 27, 2007
The domination of the DVD allows cancelled television series to find new life on silvery discs. DVDs also escalated the shameless pandering to fans with feature-length renditions of their favorite cancelled faire. Sure, the fan bases of said franchises weren’t strong enough to keep the show on the air, but that doesn’t mean their money is no good. This is America for crying out loud!
Because this is America, we, the fans, are able to have countless, straight-to-DVD sequels to Dukes of Hazard and American Pie. We can watch entire seasons of Night Rider and MacGyver even though the first episodes of those series may predate our birth. And, when our beloved Futurama or Gumbel2Gumbel gets cancelled, we can whine and scream and purchase DVDs until our voices are heard.
And our voices heard about it, they have!
Confusing syntax aside, the good folks at Fox gave Matt Groening and company the opportunity to release a Futurama movie and shamelessly pander to dozens of fans. And pander they did! Anyone with access to two volumes of their roommate’s Futurama DVDs will find Bender’s Big Score incredibly rewarding. Everyone else should read the rest of this review and then forget they ever heard of it.
The movie opens with an extended rant against network executives that turns into a delightful running joke (apparently, crushed executive cures venereal disease and arms elf artillery). Shortly thereafter, the plot gets rolling and Lela (Katey Sagal), Bender (John DiMaggio), Fry (Billy West), and the gang head off to a nudist beach with a cargo of bar stool softener. While soaking up the sun waves (or is it particles?), the Futurama-rinos give over their email addresses to a group of petition-wielding nudist info hunters that seem to at least have a phylum in common with Dr. Zoidberg. Nudar and his two cronies use the email addresses they collect to scam Professor Farnsworth out of Planet Express, the package delivery operation that provides all of our heroes with income. Once at the helm, the nudists “sprunge” Planet Express for information and find the secret of time travel in a location that’s more than a little modest.
And it gets a little confusing from there.
Perhaps the idea of time travel is a little cliché in the realms of science fiction, but this is comedy science fiction! The seemingly fearless writing of David X. Cohen and Ken Keeler validates the choice. Cohen and Keeler create a game of time-travel tag that pits Bender and Fry in a struggle that spans a millennium. Though the viewer will often struggle to wrap their mind around the countless paradoxes involved in the plot, they will never be in want of a laugh. Indeed, the Futurama franchise was created to pack as much geek humor into 20-minute spans as possible. Given that Bender’s Big Score does the same for an 88-minute feature (excepting the two awful songs grinding the fun to a halt), I’d say they’ve fulfilled their mission statement.
I’d only wish they’d stop with the lame binary jokes. THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS! Geez…
Back in 1999, Fox introduced us to Family Guy and Futurama. While Seth Macfarlane went all Eli Whitney on our asses and introduced the world to interchangeable jokes, Cohen and Keeler teamed with the great Matt Groening to create Futurama. The result was a different brand of geek humor delivered to us in the tried and true Simpsons style. Even though both series brought a freshness to the Fox network that had not been experienced in a decade, they were both cancelled in 2003. While Family Guy has found new life in the broadcast world, Futurama has been relegated to syndication purgatory on Adult Swim (and Comedy Central starting January 2008). However, thanks to the whining of the two dozen of us that recognize Futurama as the valedictorian of the class of 1999, three more Futurama movies are on the way.
And after watching the first, I’ll be marking the release of the next three on my calendar.
DVD Bonus Features
The Futurama: Bender’s Big Score DVD is presented in widescreen format with English Dolby Surround 5.1, along with English, French and Spanish subtitles.
– Commentary by Matt Groening, David X. Cohen, Billy West, John DiMaggio, Phil LaMarr, Claudia Katz, Dwayne Carey-Hill, and Ken Keeler.
– Futurama Returns! A Live Comic Book Reading By The Futurama Cast Featurette
– Everybody Loves Hypnotoad – A Spellbinding Episode Of The Future’s Most Popular TV Program
– A Terrifying Message From Al Gore: Animated Promo For An Inconvenient Truth with Video Commentary by Al Gore, Matt Groening and David X. Cohen
– Bite My Shiny Metal X: A Mind-Shattering Futurama Math Lecture Featurette
– Bender’s Big Score: The Original First Draft Of The Script Featurette
– New Character/Design Sketches
– Original Five-Minute Comic-Con Promo
– Deleted Scenes: “Monte Carlo,” “Robot Mafia,” and “Limbo Contest”