Thursday, December 17, 2009
“This is very important…open my pants.”
Sorry, that feudal analogy kind of ran away from me. Mom and Dad Save the World was made in 1992 and was a science fiction comedy that nobody really remembers (except me and three other people, since I saw it as a kid on VHS).
So there's this married couple, and the spark has more or less gone out of their relationship. They’re on their way to a vacation away from the kids when their station wagon gets caught in a beam, carried through space and arrives on Spengo, the smallest planet in the galaxy, and populated entirely by idiots. The emperor of Spengo, wants to blow up the Earth because its bigger than Spengo and he falls in love with the wife. It falls to the husband to escape death’s grasp, team up with a resistance movement in favor of restoring the old king, and save his marriage. Hilarity occasionally ensues.
Emperor Tod Spengo: Jon Lovitz hams things up as the Villain of the movie, a dumpy, egotistic, foppish idiot who took over the planet and renamed it after himself. Tod’s a big idiot, but he’s also got an army at his command and a giant laser canon, so he’s somewhat of a threat. He’s fairly funny with the material he’s given. The scene where he’s deciding between muttonchops or goatee is one of the better ones.
Marge Nelson: Teri Garr plays the housewife who’s trying to get her husband out and about more than he’d like. As the object of Tod’s affections, she is revolted by the idea, but finds herself a glorified prisoner in his palace.
Dick Nelson: Jeffrey Jones is plays a main character for a change and does all right as the henpecked grumpy husband who’s got back problems. On Spengo, he acquires the nickname “Earth Dick.” I’ll let you write your own subtext.
General Afir: Thalmus Rasula is Tod’s general and right hand man, and not nearly as dumb.
King Raff: Eric Idle seems to be slumming it here as the deposed king that Dick meets in prison. His method of concealing secret information is by putting down the front of his pants. Despite the limited screen time, he’s the film’s comedic badass.
Sibor: Wallace Shawn is a scientist working for Tod that decides to help out Dick because he too has lost someone that he loves.
Sirk: Dwier Brown is Raff’s son and leads the resistance movement in the wilderness.
Semage: Kathy Ireland is Sirk’s sister, and spends the entire movie in a fan service costume. This is not a bad thing.
The direction by Greg Beeman is competent but nothing extraordinary. The movie’s nice and colorful though, and the alien costumes for the fish and bulldog people aren’t too bad. The lubb-lubbs are probably the best done creature effects in the film. Hopping friendly faced mushrooms that live in sewers and raise their caps to reveal lots and lots of nasty, sharp teeth.
Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon (who wrote the Bill & Ted movies) handled the script for this and while the premise is fine, the delivery is…nothing special. Its supposedly a planet of the dumbest people in the galaxy, but they’re all only marginally dumber than the Nelsons. Its actually pretty disappointing, especially considering that Bill & Ted were legitimate idiots in their movies.
However, there are some bright patches of good comedy. Tod Spengo, Raff and Sirk are all suitably idiotic (Sirk is just so earnest too). The best gag in the movie has to do with a little weapon called the Light Grenade. The way it works is that you pull the pin, put it down on the ground and whoever picks it up next is violently turned to smoke. This is encouraged by a label on the grenade that says “Pick me up.” A battalion of Tod’s men come across the abandoned rebel camp, find the Light Grenade, and proceed to wipe out their own unit one by one, until the last thing you see of the squad is their commander radioing for backup. Easily the funniest thing in the movie.
Original score by the always solid Jerry Goldsmith. Its solid, but nothing you’ll be humming after the movie’s over.
Mom and Dad Save the World is not a great movie. Its not a classic, or a revelation, or even all that good to be honest. Considering the cast involved, it really should be funnier than the Buck Rogers rip off that it is. There are a few good moments, one fantastic moment (the aforementioned light grenade) and then a sea of blandness that is neither offensive to the intelligence or particularly rewarding of repeat viewings. Not really recommended unless you’re on a nostalgia kick.
And now, thanks to he miracle of Youtube, you can enjoy the best part of the movie without having to sit through the rest of it!
What a wondrous age we live in!