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Posts tagged ‘movie parodies’

We have to capture this on film

Treehouse of Horror XXVI

Couch gag: The kids are trick or treating when a horde of souls descends. The monstrous soul of Frank Grimes takes over Homer’s body.

Director: Steven Dean Moore

Guest Voice:
Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob

Synopsis: The annual Halloween episode, divided into three acts.

Discussion: Yay! It’s another installment of THOH, where The Simpsons parody popular culture and turn the event into a long-lasting memory. (Spoiler alert: epic fail)

Wanted: Dead Then Alive It’s what everyone has been wanting to see (apparently): Sideshow Bob finally kills Bart. Several times, too. He kills Bart, doesn’t know what to do with his life, reanimates Bart and keeps killing. It’s a total anticlimax for this scenario.

Homerzilla Homer as Godzilla in a parody. What? We’ve seen this before? Surely you jest! This time the parody focuses on Godzilla’s reboots, spin-offs and sequels that no one wanted to see. Just a heads up, it’s likely no one wanted to see this either. It seemed like the writers wrote 3 minutes, then realised they had 7 more minutes to fill and just wrote random words on the paper to make a “plot”. It was nonsensical and booooooooooooring.

Telepaths of Glory is apparently based on something called Chronicle, which I haven’t seen. Milhouse, Bart and Lisa are out hiking, Milhouse falls down a hole, Bart and Lisa follow, and somehow Lisa and Milhouse end up with telekinesis (not telepathy). It was interesting for about two minutes.

Unfortunately this episode SUCKED. It was badly thought-out, badly executed and the writing was lazy, returning to a bunch of characters expositing what just happened. It was non-sensical drivel that will be forgotten in minutes. Lazy effort from all involved. Yawn.

Welcome, transdimensional visitors

Treehouse 23

Treehouse of Horror XXIII

Director: Steven Dean Moore

Guest voice:
Jon Lovitz as Artie Ziff

Synopsis: A black hole destroys Springfield and takes its residents to another planet; Marge’s deal with the devil comes back to haunt her (literally); Bart goes back to 1974 and prevents Homer marrying Marge.

Discussion: This is one of the best Halloween episodes in the history of the show. The parodies are well done enough as to make it obvious, but not so over done that the essence of the plot is compromised just by having Simpsons characters in the exact same plot as the original source.

The opening sequence takes place in Chitzen Itza, where Homer is being fattened up, ready to be sacrificed to appease the gods. Moe is sent in his place by a scheming Marge, condemning the world to be destroyed in 2012. It’s original and has many amusing moments.

The Greatest Story Ever Holed sees Springfield opening its version of the Large Hadron Collider, which creates a small black hole. Lisa discovers it and takes it home where the rest of the family throw things into it until it’s big enough to swallow the whole town and all the residents. Everyone and everything (except Maggie, whose pacifier killed the black hole) is taken to an alien planet where the inhabitants are celebrating ordinary stuff. Again, this segment is really well done and great fun to watch, even though the science is extremely dodgy.

UnNormal Activity is a parody of Paranormal Activity. Homer sets up several video cameras to record the mysterious goings on while the family sleep. At the end, Maggie is kidnapped by the unseen presence, who is revealed to be a Moe-demon, whom Marge had made a deal with thirty years previously. It’s a good segment, not just rehashing the plot of the PA movies but putting a Simpsons spin on it to make it seem more original, if that makes sense. There’s elements here that work well without having the Simpson family rehash everything about the original source.

Bart and Homer’s Excellent Adventure is a parody of Back to the Future while the title comes from a similarly-themed film, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Bart travels back to 1974 to buy a comic book, but finds himself at Springfield High School in the detention room where Homer and Marge first met. However, Bart causes a fight between them and they don’t fall in love. In the future, Marge has married Artie Ziff and Bart is Bartie Ziff. They are very rich, and it’s a future that Bart is willing to live with. But then Marge realises she should have married Homer anyway and all is returned to normal.

Overall, it’s one of the better Halloween specials with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and fun to be had. I’m not usually a fan of the specials, but I’d happily watch this one again.

I failed the basic duty of childhood

How I wet your mother

How I Wet Your Mother

Couch gag: The Simpsons are rolled into sushi and cut into rolls. Maggie pops out unscathed.

Director: Lance Kramer

Guest Voices:
Glenn Close as Mona
David Byrne as Dream Operator singer

Synopsis: The family enter Homer’s dream to find out why he’s been wetting the bed at night.

Discussion: I didn’t feel like I was watching The Simpsons. I felt like I was watching Inception with Simpsons characters. Don’t get me wrong, I love Inception and think it’s one of the best films of the past thirty years. But to use the plot of the film to solve Homer’s bed-wetting problem? It’s a little too weird.

The hook of the episode is Homer allowing unrestricted access to the power plant’s supply closet and not getting caught, while everyone else does. Immediately after this incident, he starts wetting the bed at night. According to the American Association of Continence, this problem affects about 2% of the adult population, and is more prevalent in males than females. Usually this is caused by a medical problem such as prostate problems or certain medications, but in Homer’s case, it’s either karma or a niggling psychological issue.

Enter Professor Frink, blown from his house after trying to dodge a news site’s paywall. He’s developed a machine that allows people to enter other people’s dreams. Now, I like the idea and think it’s a clever one, but to then parody the entire plot of Inception made the ep feel overly familiar with nothing fresh and new. I did enjoy the sequence of Homer’s ultimate dream land, where drink driving is encouraged and there are giant doughnuts and beer bottles on every corner. The guest appearance by Homer’s mother Mona (voiced again by the fantastic Glenn Close) was a real treat and a lovely surprise, considering she died several seasons ago but lives on in Homer’s memories.

Mona’s appearance tried to bring the episode back to what it does best: bonding families together and creating those warm, fuzzy feelings. I wouldn’t say that this ep entirely failed in that respect but it certainly lacked something to kick it into high gear. There were a few good jokes along the way, but I still felt that the episode lacked zing. I’m also quite glad that, despite the title, Marge never actually got urinated upon…

All my friends have birthdays this year

The Dohcial network

The D’oh-cial Network

Billboard: Winter at Squidport: Dead seals wash up daily

We do need no education

Couch gag: The Simpsons fight their way through New York City to be guests on Davide Letterman’s show.

Director: Chris Clements

Guest voices:
David Letterman as himself
Armie Hammer as the Winklevoss twins

Synopsis: Lisa creates an online social network after realising she has no friends in real life.

Discussion: Who here has seen A Muppet Christmas Carol? Hands up if you can’t guess what it’s about. This episode of The Simpsons felt very much like that film (and others of its kind): it’s not a parody if you put different people into the same storyline with much the same characterisation. It’s a remake. The first half of this ep felt like a remake of The Social Network but with Simpsons characters.

Lisa, realising she doesn’t actually have any friends, creates a parody of Facebook, called SpringFace. The townspeople use it constantly, to the point where there have been 35 deaths caused by residents’ failures to look where they’re going and take due care (especially while driving). Lisa is on trial for this destruction and agrees to shut down the site. BORING!

My main issue with this ep is that it lacks any originality whatsoever. It’s not a parody; it’s taking a film and big business (Mapple/Apple) and using it to connect with an audience using familiarity. It’s like that shot-for-shot remake of Psycho. Why bother?

Having said that, there were a couple of highlights in this episode. One was Nelson’s treatment of the nerds as they wrote the code for Lisa’s site and the other is Hans being hit by Homer’s car and desperately hitting the Dislike button. I didn’t even enjoy the short at the end, where Bart and Milhouse get their comeuppance for pulling a prank at the school. When the episode runs too short, I don’t mind something random at the end but it was done much better years ago with “The Adventures of Ned Flanders” short (even though I hated it in my review…)

This is yet another mindless ep which doesn’t add anything to the canon (although it’s full of source material for The Simpsons: Tapped Out game). Maybe best viewed when drunk and/or high.

That is so untrolly

Book Job

The Book Job

Director: Bob Anderson

Guest Voices:
Neil Gaiman as himself
Andy Garcia as TweenLit publishing boss

Synopsis: After Lisa uncovers a conspiracy in which popular novels are written by a consortium of writers, Homer gets the idea to become rich by forming his own writing team.

Discussion: Despite the severely depressing premise, this episode was actually pretty good. I liked the parody of Ocean’s Eleven et al and it seemed to carry a decent pace even though the conclusion was predictable from the very start.

There’s also some truth behind the premise: ghostwriting is a huge business and some of your favourite authors aren’t really writing your favourite novels. For example, the famous Nancy Drew novels were written by Carolyn Keene, only “Carolyn Keene” turns out to be a bunch of ghostwriters using that name and paid off to lose all rights to their books and remain anonymous. Virginia Andrews died in 1986 and the estate hired a ghostwriter to complete her last novels, which were released under her name. More recently, there are truckloads of novels spewed out by publishing houses in the wake of other popular novels; how many vampire-themed teen romances popped up in the months after Twilight became a hit?

Right, onto the episode. The ep begins with a rather amusing homage to Walking With Dinosaurs in which Lisa discovers her favourite author is only an actress hired to appear on the cover of novels with appropriate sob story. Even though the viewer is reminded of JK Rowling, I’m sure Ms Rowling actually wrote the Harry Potter novels and this is in no way an attack on her character.

The format of the episode follows that of crime films such as The Italian Job and the Ocean’s trilogy, with title cards to announce what the team is doing and using the same music that typifies the genre. In this case, it provides a break with the narrative and allows to the viewer to somewhat piece together the story as opposed to having the characters specifically lead the viewer through the narrative (something which has been increasingly annoying of late). Having said that, it’s still quite simplistically styled and doesn’t carry any depth as these crime films do. It’s dumbing it down, which doesn’t have to be necessary even with the twenty minute time constraint. It’s just lazy storytelling.

Overall, the narrative flaws are mostly forgiven because the episode is enjoyable anyway.

Hell! Damn! Backside!

treehouse 22

Treehouse of Horror XXII

Director: Matthew Faughnan

Guest voices:
Aron Ralston as the 911 dispatcher
Jackie Mason as Hyman Krustofsky

Synopsis: Homer is paralysed by a spider bite and can only communicate by farting; Homer tricks Ned into killing people; a parody of Avatar in which the secret source is hilarium.

Discussion: This installment of The Simpsons Halloween specials sure divided the critics. Some loved it and some hated it. But since this is my blog, their opinions don’t matter. I liked it, for the most part, although I don’t really think it fit with the overall themes explored in other Halloween specials. Sure, there are the movie parodies we’ve come to know and (sometimes) love, but where’s the blood, gore and violence?

Opening Sequence shows Homer giving the kids’ candy to overseas Americans fighting for their great country, but falling down a crevasse and having to chew his arm off a la 127 Hours. Once able to reach the bag of candy, he discovers it’s full of vegetables; Bart and Lisa switched the candy and are happily munching on it at home. Real life survivor Aron Ralston voices the 911 dispatcher.

Diving Bell and the Butterball is about Homer’s paralysis after being bitten by a spider. Lisa discovers his only way of communication is by farting. Yes folks, this is a classic Simpsons storyline which is ultra classy and probably better off as a stand-alone episode, disgusting as it is. I can see Homer’s adventures at work and at Moe’s if all he can do is fart his thoughts. i wouldn’t say the segment is hilarious, the joke wears thin after a minute or so, but considering the recent quality of the series, a whole ep about farting seems about par.

Dial D for Diddily shows Ned being persuaded to kill people by the voice of God coming through the Bible. “God” turns out to be Homer, tricking Ned into killing all his enemies. This part is OK, but falls fast and miserably with a fight between the devil and the real God, and Maude rocking up in a negligee inviting the devil back to bed. Riiiiiiiiiiight. Moving on…

In the Na’vi is an obvious parody of Avatar, which was interesting enough. In particular, the writers managed to condense a three-hour-plus movie into just seven minutes. That alone is an impressive feat. Anyhoo, Bart and Milhouse’s avatars resemble Kang and Kodos, which was a funny and pleasant change from the blue aliens normally associated with the film. The critics noted that this parody came two years too late, but because I’m viewing it 2.5 years after the original airing, it doesn’t matter to me. In the aftermath of the film’s release, there were so many parodies of it anyway that one tired of them very, very quickly. In 2014, you don’t see many references anymore although I did read recently about James Cameron’s progress in making the sequels, the first of which is due in 2016. Anyhoo, I digress. I enjoyed this parody and thought hilarium was a perfectly cromulent element to harvest from the planet. I do question Bart’s impending fatherhood as he still is a 10 year old boy despite his apparently pubescent avatar.

Overall, I thought it was mostly enjoyable, buoyed by the Avatar parody.

It’s like a beloved dog that died on your head

Homer Scissorhands

 

Homer Scissorhands 

Billboard: Nelson’s mother with a Mother’s Day special: she’s half off

I do not deserve a Mother’s Day gift for being “one badass mother”

Couch gag: The couch is on display at the Smithsonian and the Simpsons break in, go through a series of obstacles and sit down.

Director: Mark Kirkland

Guest voice:
Kristen Schaal as Taffy

Synopsis: Homer shows a flair for hairdressing while Milhouse, rejected by Lisa yet again, begins dating a fifth grader.

Discussion: Look, I liked this episode. It’s usually fun to explore Homer’s other jobs (does he even work at the power plant anymore?) and who knew he was a closet hairdresser? The references to Edward Scissorhands are numerous and appropriate, making the episode seem more familiar than it is, if that makes sense.

Meanwhile, Milhouse decides he’s been too subtle in declaring his affections for Lisa, so after an awkward song and dance in the cafeteria over lunch, Lisa yet again rejects his advances. Along comes Taffy, a fifth grader, who is interested in Milhouse (“Everything’s coming up Milhouse!”) and the the two start dating, leaving Lisa a teeny bit jealous. Lisa starts stalking them in order to find out why a fifth grader is dating Milhouse, but either I missed it or it wasn’t mentioned; Taffy breaks up with Milhouse before the reason is revealed. Bummer.

I liked it. I thought it was entertaining, new and fun. Homer’s quibbles about the women’s gossip were on the money (despite being female, I detest gossip) although I thought the story could have been executed a bit better. What if he wore earmuffs?

Hey Mr Positive, shut the hell up

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Treehouse of Horror XXI

Director: Bob Anderson

Guest Voices:
Hugh Laurie as Roger
Daniel Radcliffe as Edmond

Synopsis: Three Halloween stories: Bart and Milhouse play a Satanic board game which causes all their other board games to come to life; Marge and Homer are on a second honeymoon and rescue a stranded mariner, who may or may not have killed his crew; Lisa falls for a vampire named Edmond.

Discussion: Another Halloween brings yet another ‘Treehouse of Horror’ trilogy. This season’s offering was enjoyable enough to watch without being satirical or scary on any way.

War and Pieces found Bart and Milhouse playing a Satanic board game which made all their other games come to life. It was part Jumanji, part every kid’s fantasy of playing life sized games (what? You didn’t?) It was interesting enough to explore what would happen ig games came to life but that’s all it was; it lacked story.

Master and Cadaver saw Marge and Homer having a romantic second honeymoon on a rented boat and rescuing a stranded mariner. His story of escaping a ship in which all passengers were dead makes Marge think he was the murderer. It’s the least interesting of the three stories, saved only by the revelation that it was all Maggie’s imagination. Normally the “it was all a dream” scenario is the ultimate in piss-weak endings, having Maggie dream it up makes it actually quite funny. We know Maggie has a wicked sense of humour and she’s exploring it a bit more here.

Tweenlight is a parody of Twilight. There’s a new kid at school and Lisa immediately falls for him, finds out he’s a vampire and ends up wanting to be bitten so they can be together forever. Yawn. I am most definitely not a fan of the original series and found this parody to be tired, treading well-worn ground for few laughs. The exception is Homer serving Ned for dinner, which garnered a chuckle from me. There’s a certain irony in having Daniel Radcliffe portray the vampire Edmond, because the Harry Potter vs Twilight saga would always divide fans of the supernatural in much the same way as boy bands would always divide fans.

It wasn’t a terrible installation of the series, but by no means was it the best either. it was entertaining enough to keep watching, but not so much that I’m going to remember it tomorrow.

If only real life was in 3D

Image

Stealing First Base

Billboard: Dr Nick, the home of the One Hour Sex Change

World War II could not beat up World War I

Couch gag: The Simpsons are insects feasting on a giant vegetable.

Director: Steven Dean Moore

Guest Voices:
Sarah Silverman as Nikki
Angela Bassett as Michelle Obama

Synopsis: Bart falls for a girl but gets into trouble when he kisses her. Meanwhile, Lisa experiences fleeting popularity when she fails a test.

Discussion: Before she was Vanellope von Schweetz, Sarah Silverman lent her voice to Nikki, a fourth grader whom Bart falls for. It took me almost the whole episode to realise who the voice was (Silverman is not a big name over here, I only know her from Wreck-It Ralph and “I f-ed Matt Damon”).

Another deja vu episode: Bart likes a girl and it doesn’t work out, while Lisa tries to be empowered by her nerdity. We’ve seen it all before, and this ep doesn’t add anything new except a guest appearance by FLOTUS1, voiced by Angela Bassett.

Personally, I found Nikki to be annoying, although she definitely embodies the type of annoying person many people are: they like to play games and just assume that the males of the species know (or should know) what is going on. Just a tip: don’t play games and spell out what’s wrong. Happy wife, happy life. Got it?

Anyhoo, Bart kisses Nikki and her parents attempt to sue, although I got caught up in the question, If these parents are such high powered lawyer types, why is their kid going to a public school? Nikki likes to think of herself as a rebel, maybe that’s it. The highlight of this escapade is the prolonged kissing scene between Groundskeeper Willie and Skinner. Other than that, the plot doesn’t really offer anything of value.

Meanwhile, it seems Lisa has failed a test and experiences popularity when the other kids think she’s average, not gifted. Turns out, Ralph copied her name but with Ralph answers and she’s back to being Little Miss Perfect again. After a whinge on her organic gardening blog (what?), someone named FLOTUS1 replies that she’s awesome, and then Mrs Obama makes an appearance at the school to encourage high achievers to continue being high achievers. We’ve seen all this before: Lisa has tried to dumb herself down in order to make friends, but always winds up hating herself for doing it. This storyline was not well thought out and screams for something else to make it palatable.

I would have liked to see Nelson’s storyline padded out a bit more.When the fourth grade classes are merged, Nelson is forced to sit next to a blind kid, whom he takes under his wing and teaches him all he knows, until the student has become the master. It’s good, but not really fleshed out enough to make an impact. It’s probably worth doing a whole episode on this plot: how about Nelson becoming best buds with the blind kid and Bart trying to make it a trio to take on the other bullying trio of Jimbo, Kearney and Dolph?

Overall, it was all a bit ho-hum. The parody of a Japanese film in the Itchy & Scratchy section was good… but the reference is lost when no one has seen the film. Not the case with Bart’s Great Kisses montage while Nikki is performing CPR- that was really well done 🙂

Now I know how a radio feels

Image

Thursdays with Abie

Couch gag: First Homer, then the rest of the family, are thrown around inside a pinball game.

Director: Michael Polcino

Guest voice:
Mitch Albom as himself

Synopsis: Grampa becomes a sensation when he starts telling his stories to a journalist, but the journalist has sinister plans. Meanwhile, Bart is entrusted to look after the class stuffed toy for the weekend.

Discussion: Ah, Homer and his dad. What an odd couple. Their attempts to bond usually yield some amusing moments but, in this episode, it falls very flat. The whole point of Tuesdays with Morrie was that the author, Mitch Albom, discovered deep and meaningful life truths from his mentor. Here, Homer is suddenly jealous that someone else is listening to Grampa’s strange stories and making a buck or two from it. Until the ridiculous murder plot, of course. Then it’s all Homer to the rescue on a train. What?

The second bit What? in this story is Bart’s subplot of looking after Larry the Lamb, a stuffed toy from school. There are so many things wrong with this plot, I don’t know where to start. Why does the class have a stuffed toy? Why does it need to be taken home for the weekend? Why is Nelson emotionally attached to it? And who stitched him back together at the end? So many questions, so little time. The whole thing is just weird and doesn’t add anything to any thing.

The Simpsons work best when there’s heart in the episode. This one tries to recapture a relationship between Homer and Abe but it fails to compare with earlier work, such as the Simpson & Son sexual potency tonic episode. Sure, we’ve come to expect low quality from this show by now, but it’s still a shame to see glimpses of former glory, knowing it could be so much better. What if Homer sat and listened to his dad’s stories and learned his old man wasn’t just a jumble of fish smells?

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