The Scoop: 2009, directed by Peter Avanzino, starring Billy West, Katey Sagal, and John Di Maggio
Summary Capsule: The Planet Express crew splits down gender lines over Amy’s dad’s attempt to destroy a star system brimming with life to build the galaxy’s largest mini-golf course. Meanwhile, Fry shtupping his own grandmother again puts him in the unlikely position of potential universe savior.
Drew’s Rating: Have you ever noticed how every significant event in a Matt Groening production centers around miniature golf?
Drew’s Review: Well, here we are again, old friends- the (possible) end of Futurama. It seems like only yesterday I was eagerly awaiting the release of the first direct-to-DVD movie, and now the final act is here. After this, the show’s future is uncertain, so one question looms above all others: does it receive a proper sendoff? Can Into the Wild Green Yonder compete with “The Devil’s Hands Are Idle Playthings,” the last episode of the TV series, in terms of emotional impact, or is it… well, The Matrix Revolutions? And the answer is: more of the former than the latter, thank Atheismo.
Their potentially final adventure finds the Planet Express crew watching Leo Wong demolish the old Mars Vegas to build a newer, more extravagant version. In the process, ecosystems are ravaged and species driven to extinction, but payoffs to environmental scientist Professor Farnsworth ensure zero repercussions. Leo’s only opponents are the Feministas, eco-terrorists who fight for both gender equality and the preservation of nature. But when their attack results in Fry gaining the power to read minds, he’s approached by the Legion of Madfellows, an ancient organization devoted to protecting the universe from the Dark Ones, creatures who wish to destroy all life. A violet dwarf star may hold the key to reviving hundreds of extinct species, but Leo Wong plans to destroy it to build an immense miniature golf course, a plan the Dark Ones hope to see come to fruition. While Leela joins the Feministas, Fry goes undercover as Leo’s security guard in an effort to ferret out the Dark Ones and save the dwarf star. But with Leela unaware of Fry’s plan and the male Planet Expressers firmly on Leo’s side (and Bender working for himself, as always), the company threatens to tear itself apart. Can anything bring them together in time to possibly go away forever?
While some people have loved the Futurama movies, others have complained that they don’t live up to the show at its peak, so let’s get it out of the way first: I’m glad to report that Into the Wild Green Yonder is without question the funniest of the four films. It’s weird… I remember liking the previous three when they came out, but they definitely suffer in comparison with Yonder, which reminds you of just how many good lines the show used to pack into each episode. The plot is likewise enjoyable on the whole- while one or two subplots peter out (Bender’s affair with the Donbot’s wife, I’m looking at you), overall it’s fairly coherent by Futurama standards. Yet another longstanding series mystery is resolved (who’s the man in the number 9 shirt who appears in crowd scenes throughout the series?), mmmmostly satisfactorily, and the writing staff gets to take another jab at industrialization while poking gentle fun at the environmentalists who oppose it. Most of the main characters get a chance to shine, though there could always be a little more Zoidberg maybe, and the series continues its trend of unlikely guest stars with Tha Doggfather himself. It’s easy to take the animation for granted because we’ve gotten used to it by this point, but it’s clean and impressive as always.
The few complaints are familiar ones, mostly having to do with consistent characterization (in a cartoon, I know, but still). Fry and Leela are yet again back to mooning over each other, meaning you could pretty much pretend the last three movies never happened and Yonder continues directly from the show. Having recently rewatched classic episodes like “The Sting” where the pair clearly have feelings for each other, I found it hard enough to see them back to being just friends without explanation, but the constant back-and-forth needs to stop. Personally I like their relationship because I’m a giant romantic softie (shhh… don’t tell anyone), but they’re threatening to overtake Ross and Rachel for most drawn out non-relationship on TV, and brother, that’s not a good place to be. Also, the movie format seems to goad the writers into producing more “epic” stories, with three of the four films dealing with galaxy-shaking events. I can understand why they felt the need to amp up the drama, but some of my favorite Futurama episodes were of the quieter, more personal variety that get shoved to the wayside whenever the universe is in danger. No biggie, but if the show ever returns we could use a few episodes where the crew are solely responsible for saving themselves.
Aaaand… there’s really not much else to say. If you’re a diehard Futurama fan, you probably already own this DVD and are mentally composing your rebuttal to me this very moment. (Remember, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org.) But if you’re a more casual fan who was thinking of maybe picking up one a them DVD movies and wants to know which to choose, hopefully this answered your question- it’s Yonder. Is it perfect? No. Is it quite as witty as the best episodes of the show? Uh-uh. But does it leave me wanting more and praying Fox sees fit to revive the show again in another format? You bet your shiny-…
Well, you know the rest.
- Into the Wild Green Yonder may or may not mark the end of Futurama. Fox has the option of letting it end here, or if sales of the movies merit it, either ordering another batch of straight-to-DVD films or reviving the show on network TV for another season. In addition, Matt Groening and David X. Cohen have expressed interest in doing a theatrical film if Fox decides to go that route instead.
- The Yonder DVD has a ton of special features, including commentary, deleted scenes, a tutorial on how to draw Futurama in 10 very difficult steps, animatics, a spoof featurette about how Futurama is made, Penn Jillette talking about his experience recording his lines, a random mini-documentary about Matt Groening and David X. Cohen going on a Zero-G flight experience, a short featurette made up of clips from past episodes called Bender’s Movie Theater Etiquette, and of course, Zapp Brannigan’s Guide to Making Love at a Woman. (It’s pretty much the same as making love *to* a woman except… uh, never mind. Not going there.) Perhaps the weirdest feature is a brief animation of Bender chugging beers, drawn entirely on toilet paper squares and animated by, well, spinning the roll. Yeah.
- The Simpsons/Futurama and Family Guy teams often poke fun at each other on their shows, but apparently it’s all in good fun, since Seth MacFarlane sings the opening Vegas-style song.
- Sadly, I think New Vegas’s motto — “What you don’t know about your bedspread won’t hurt you” — could just as easily be applied to Las Vegas. I’ve watched C.S.I.
- As a nice callback to the last movie, where dark matter became obsolete, we learn that whale oil is the new fuel source.
- Every environmentally-themed episode of Futurama features a member of the Waterfall family, and Yonder is no exception with Hutch and his sister Frida.
- Snoop Dogg as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? Fo’ rizzle, y’all.
- The other justices include Scalia, Ginsberg, Thomas, Paula Abdul, Bjorn Bjork, Janeane Garofalo, and a brunette named “Sagal,” a cute nod to Katey Sagal, the voice of Leela.
- If you ever wondered what makes Bender’s ass shiny and metal, wonder no longer: it’s his vanity plate reading “1 DVS BSTD”.
- Is It Worth Staying Through The End Credits? Well, there’s nothing extra, but considering it could be the last time you’ll ever hear that sweet Futurama theme song? Yep.
Leo Wong: Okay, okay. Come back when New Vegas opens, I give you all free rooms, free dinner, and free tickets to Celine Dion.
Bender: Lose the Celine Dion tickets and you got yourself a deal.
Leo: All right, damn it, done!
Bender: Man, I’m worried about him. But not enough to stop gambling for even a single second!
Fry: Sign me up for the tournament, please!
Attendant: Okey-doke, Jiffy Pop. Entry fee’s 50,000 smackers.
Fry: 50,000?! Drat, all I have is my life savings and a token for free admission to this poker tournament.
Attendant: Close enough.
Penn: Welcome, viewers who fell asleep with the TV on! It’s the 3009 No-Limit Hold ‘Em Championship. I’m the massive head of Penn Jillette, and here with the color commentary, my partner Teller! …Our act really didn’t change much when he died.
Fry: Bite my shiny metal hat!
Penn: Looks like Boobs Vanderbilt has a decent pair. Also, she’s got two eights.
Hutch: Sorry I bashed your head in, buddy, but I had to. Y’see, the fate of the universe depends on you.
Fry: Yeah, I get that a lot.
Zapp: Bender here has identified the femdito commander as my ex-lover Turanga Leela, whom I once made love at.
Nixon: And he’s willing to fink her out for a few simoleons?
Bender: It’s not about the money, Nixon, though I’d like much more. It’s ’cause Leela’s a threat- a threat to my reputation! She’s committed 30 felonies in 12 star systems. If no one stops her, she’ll break my record for longest rap sheet!
Nixon: Aroooo! That’s a despicable motive, Bender, and I respect it.
Farnsworth: Well, this is it, old friends. Planet Express is done for, what with our delivery crew missing and the abysmal sales of Tickle-Me Bender.
Doll: Teeheehee! Quit touchin’ my junk, pervert!
Zapp: Kif, set coordinates 36, 24, 36. AKA… Leela.
Number 9 Man: As my colleague indicated, the plan cannot come from us, Fry. We were counting on you and your unreadable brain to come up with something.
Fry: That was a mistake.
Number 9 Man: I see that now.
Hermes: Sweet topology of cosmology, it’s huge!
Farnsworth: If we fly into it, it could take us trillions of light years away. There’s no knowing if we’ll ever return.
Fry: What do we do? Should we go for it?
Bender: Into the breach, meatbags. Or not. Eh, whatever.
If You Liked This Movie, Try These:
Futurama: Bender’s Game
The Simpsons Movie