Futurama Fridays – S7E16 “T.: The Terrestrial”

Fry gets left on an alien world. A parody ensues.

SUMMARY

Lrrr, ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8, (Maurice LaMarche) is trying help his son, Jrrr (Lauren Tom), take over Earth in order to get a merit badge. Unfortunately, Jrrr is so meek that Nixon (Billy West) doesn’t take him seriously. At Lrrr’s insistence, Jrrr responds by accidentally killing the Headless clone of Agnew. Nixon places an embargo on Omicron Persei 8 in response. The Professor (West) reveals that he’s now in horrible pain because the “herbal supplement” that he uses for pain management is exclusive to Omicron Persei 8. Hermes (Phil LaMarr) orders the crew to fly to collect it, due to his love of Omicronic. While on the planet, Fry (west) and Bender (John DiMaggio) get separated and the crew gets evacuated. Bender abandons Fry and tells Leela (Katey Sagal) that Fry is on board, so Fry is left on the planet. He soon encounters Jrrr and frightens him, but the two soon bond. Fry, however, gets homesick.

For the record, that’s a good name for a pot brand.

Bender has to continue to construct elaborate lies to cover for his cowardice, but ends up making everyone assume that Fry is working harder than ever before. Bender begins to miss Fry, thinking him dead, but continues the ruse in progressively more elaborate ways. However, he eventually sees an S.O.S. that Fry and Jrrr have built on the planet. Lrrr catches Fry and has him imprisoned to be killed. Lrrr also comments that Fry is looking sick, which is because Fry has been eating Jrrr’s feces, thinking they were candy. Jrrr and Fry escape and flee on a flying love-powered bicycle, but when they get fry to a doctor, Drrr, he recommends killing Fry. Lrrr confronts Jrrr, but Jrrr stands up to him and earns his respect… only for Fry to die. Bender arrives and the Omicronic that Fry had consumed glows from Bender’s electromagnetism and his love for Fry. Fry revives and is taken home, only to find out that he is now more respected and loved than ever because of Bender’s ruse.

If the Vet is named Drrr, what’s the Doctor named?

END SUMMARY

This episode never quite hits as hard as it should for me. It’s got some funny moments, to be sure, but many of the E.T. parodies are just not quite what they should be. I think part of it is that they literally turned the iconic Reese’s Pieces scene into a poop joke and then didn’t just leave it. The joke wasn’t funny, but if we’d just left it alone, then it would just be a missed opportunity. Instead, the episode’s plot actually depends on the idea that Fry would be unable to stop eating Jrrr’s crap. Knowingly. It’s just doubling down on crap, literally.

Also, did they get rid of Ndnd just so this episode is single-parent like E.T.?

I will admit that the subplot about Bender pretending to be Fry actually works better than it should. When Bender is forced to use the single recording of Fry’s voice in clever ways in order to maintain the ruse, it usually produces a laugh. I also find it amusing that after the number of atrocities that Lrrr has committed on Earth in past episodes, including taking over multiple times, that the only thing that creates an embargo between the planets is the killing of the body of Spiro Agnew. It’s not even the last clone, either, and presumably they could just make more. I mean, how much could it take to grow Spiro Agnew? 

Looks like about 180 lbs.

Overall, it’s not a great episode, but it’s got its moments, at least.

FAVORITE JOKE

When Fry mentions that he is homesick, Jrrr takes him to a collection of extremely high-tech communications devices in order to let him “phone home,” a la E.T. However, Fry instead turns them into an S.O.S. message by pulling them into place. The key is that this actually ends up working, because Bender sees it, while all signals from Omicron are blocked by Earth. It’s a great gag because it’s the dumb thing that’s secretly brilliant.

See you next week, meatbags.

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Adventure Time: Distant Lands (BMO and Obsidian): Great Follow-Up – HBO Max Mini-Review

HBO Max takes us back to Ooo and beyond.

SUMMARY 

BMO – BMO (Niki Yang) the tiny robot is sent on a mission into space but ends up getting hijacked by a robot and sent to the space station called “The Drift.” The station is run by Hugo (Randall Park), an evil former-human who essentially rules with an iron fist. BMO, with the help of local scientist Y5 (Glory Curda), ends up saving the entire station and helps them start a new way of life. BMO then returns home.

BMO is a space cowboy/girl/person.

Obsidian – Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch) and Marceline (Olivia Olson) have been together for several years now and their relationship is still going well. They are summoned by the young Glass Boy (Michaela Dietz) to save the Glass Kingdom and See-Thru Princess from the evil dragon Molto Larvo (Dee Bradley Baker). In the process, they must confront some issues from their past relationship and Marceline’s history.

END SUMMARY

If you were a fan of Adventure Time like myself, the news of this miniseries was like water to the desert-dweller. I had originally planned to wait until all four of the episodes were out, but it’s been like six months and we still don’t have dates for the last two episodes, so I’m just pulling the trigger. 

This poster still has a lot to hint at.

“BMO” is, much like BMO him/her/itself, unusual. It’s a strange misadventure featuring a character who often acts like a small child. BMO often doesn’t even seem cognizant of the impact that their presence is having on the events, but instead just kind of plays along with their own kind of dream logic. Ultimately, the biggest thing that BMO has going for them is that they are completely innocent and impart some level of that innocence on everyone they interact with. Additionally, BMO is selfless, most of the time, and that similarly rubs off on people. It’s the sincerity of the tiny robot that sells the narrative, which helps because a lot of it feels aimless and meandering, like BMO is during the events. The final message of the episode is that ultimately being manipulative and greedy will leave you lonely, which is a good moral for kids.

I mean, here’s a bunch of weird creatures and a living robot hat.

“OBSIDIAN” is extremely different. It focuses more on Marceline and Bubblegum coming to terms with their past and how it impacts their current efforts at having a relationship. Since the pair did not get together (again) until the final episode of the original series, we haven’t actually gotten a lot of time with them as a couple. During some of the episodes of the final seasons we got a picture of their interplay and hints that they had been together in the past, but all we know is that it didn’t work out well. This episode fleshes out the end of that relationship by showing us how angry and insecure Marceline was. It then takes us further back and shows us when Marceline was originally left on her own as a child, with the narrative drawing strong associations between those events. Then, at the end, we see that Marceline has finally moved forward and grown past these after a literal millennium of life. It’s a lot more about self exploration than adventure, but it’s also just as important of a message.

And we see that they really are a cute couple.

Overall, just a great continuation to the series. 

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Snowpiercer (Season 1): Keep It Going – HBO Max Review

The second season is coming next week, so just enough time to catch up.

SUMMARY

Welcome to the Apocalypse: Snow Edition. It turns out that global warming was, in fact, real, but then the people assigned to fix it screwed up and froze the planet instead. The only survivors of humanity, apparently, are inside Snowpiercer, a 1001 car long train that runs on a perpetual energy engine built by Mr. Wilford (Sean Bean). The train has four classes: The ultra-rich first class, the skilled labor second class, the trained labor third class, and the slave-class in the tail, consisting of people who forced their way onto the train. The train’s operations are overseen by the head of “hospitality,” Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly). After a grizzly murder happens in second class, Cavill recruits former homicide detective and tail revolutionary Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) to solve it, resulting in the entire train being thrown out of whack. 

But that train keeps a rollin’ on down to San Antone… and then to India and back.

END SUMMARY

If you didn’t see the film Snowpiercer (or read the graphic novel, I guess), then the setting for this series may take a bit of adjustment. It’s all set on a train, because everything else is death. The train can’t stop or everyone dies. There are 1001 cars, which means that there are not just housing and basic services, but also things like farm cars, cattle cars, ocean cars, restaurants, clubs, bars, etc. The cars are not all the same size, but the show does a good job of making the most of the spatial allotments and forces a lot of creativity into the designs. It also creates an environment that is simultaneously isolated and overwhelmingly crowded, which means that you can have almost any character reacting to either of them at the same time. Putting people in such an insane situation means that major character trait changes can be justified, which helps keep the show refreshing. 

Lot of stuff happens in the bar car.

Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Connelly both nail their characters in this show. Diggs is a revolutionary who has been living in squalor for seven years who is now being offered a better life essentially in exchange for leaving the rest of the people behind. He’s having to question the strength of his principles. The same is true of Connelly, who is constantly sacrificing to maintain enough order to keep the last vestiges of humanity alive. It’s interesting because Connelly would clearly be the villain if this weren’t literally the last hope for life on Earth, but instead she’s often shown to be somewhat justified in her actions. Each one constantly has an air of moral ambiguity.

Such piercing eyes. Snowpiercing. Yeah, I hate myself for that joke.

Overall, this was a solid series and a good alternate take on the movie’s premise. I still recommend seeing the movie (directed by Parasite director Bong Joon-ho), but this show is a worthy follow-up. Can’t wait for Season 2 next week.

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An American Pickle: The Past Is A Little Sour And A Little Sweet – HBO Max Mini-Review

Seth Rogen brings us a strange new take on Rip Van Winkle. 

SUMMARY

In 1919, Herschel Greenbaum (Seth Rogen) and his wife, Sarah (Sarah Snook), immigrate to America from Eastern Europe after the Cossacks sacked their village. Herschel gets a job at a pickle factory, but on the day the factory closes, he gets trapped in a vat and is preserved for 100 years until the vat is unsealed. His only relative is his great-grandson Ben (Also Seth Rogen), who is a freelance app developer. Herschel’s values from 1919 quickly start to clash with Ben’s more modern sensibilities. At the same time, Herschel thinks that Ben does not appropriately respect his heritage. It’s like they’re in some kind of uncomfortable situation.

Admit it, you’ve seen the guy on the right before at a coffee shop.

END SUMMARY

So, this movie does a number of things right. Seth Rogen does a great job playing both the terse and confrontational Herschel and the softer and more sarcastic Ben. Some of their scenes together are genuinely touching and many are also funny, which is more impressive when you realize that the same person is playing both parts. A lot of the humorous scenes in the movie really work well, but only because Rogen is just naturally charming and playing two different sides of himself.

And yes, a lot of the movie involves pickles.

The problem is that, at a lot of points, the style of comedy is inconsistent and, unless you’re really malleable, you’ll probably be thrown off by the changes. For example, there’s a funny scene in which the film avoids explaining HOW Herschel could possibly have survived in the vat by telling the audience that there definitely is an explanation and that it satisfied everyone who asked. It’s a great way to acknowledge that there’s no way to make this film’s premise scientifically viable but moving past it with a fun wink to the audience. However, that’s the only time that kind of joke is made in the film and it kind of sticks out. Most of the movie derives its humor from the “fish out of water” story or the generational divide and how anti-progressives in the modern day actually like Herschel’s horrible opinions, but every so often one of the jokes will come from a completely different angle and rather than adding to the film, kind of pulls you out of it and makes it hard to laugh at the next joke. 

On the other hand, it does make some of the sincere moments more touching.

Overall, though, the negatives in this movie are outweighed by Rogen’s performance and the number of genuinely well-done scenes. I still recommend it.

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The History of Swear Words: Damn, This Sh*t’s F*cking Funny – Netflix Review

Nicolas Cage and a cast of great comics and historians give us a humorous look at the history of cussing.

SUMMARY

Composed of six episodes addressing the six most common swears in the English language, the show has Sarah Silverman, Nick Offerman, Nikki Glaser, Patti Harrison, Open Mike Eagle, Joel Kim Booster, DeRay Davis, London Hughes, Jim Jefferies, Zainab Johnson, Baron Vaughn, and Isaiah Whitlock, Jr. do commentary about the history, use, cultural impact, and just plain fun of using curse words. They also have historians, linguists, and lexicographers on hand to provide the real information: Benjamin K. Bergen, Anne H. Charity Hudley, Mireille Miller-Young, Elvis Mitchell, Melissa Mohr, and Kory Stamper. 

AND NICOLAS CAGE!!!!!

END SUMMARY

What’s most interesting about this show isn’t just that it’s full of great comics telling funny stories about how they’ve used swear words, it’s that the comedians are sometimes overshadowed by the hilarious revelations of actual historical uses and origins of many of these swears. There is a particular name which is revealed in one of the episodes that, having looked it up, is even funnier because it was a name assigned to him by a court. I don’t want to spoil it, but it made me laugh. 

It’s funny sugar honey iced tea.

I think another great part of the show is how they discuss the impact of having certain words in common parlance and how it can amplify misogyny, racism, or other harmful things, but how society has worked to reclaim or undo that damage. It’s also interesting that the show, on the whole, endorses swearing as something that people use for various reasons, ranging from emotional release to pain management. A number of the episodes attack censorship, but also do point out the problems that can come from heedlessly using certain terms. It’s a very balanced show.

They do both real and folk etymologies and both are funny.

Overall, this is a great series and I hope they keep going. We haven’t even gotten to all of the Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television, so there is room. Also, Nicolas Cage does a great job, even if, on some level, I know Samuel L. Jackson should have hosted “F*ck.”

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The Prom: It’s A Musical in a High School, but Not That One – Netflix Review

It’s not the best musical, but it was fun.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

The head of the PTA of Edgewater, Indiana, Mrs. Greene (Kerry Washington), cancels the prom rather allowing a female student named Emma Nolan (Jo Ellen Pellman) attend as an open lesbian. Emma, who already lives with her grandmother Bea (Mary Kay Place) after getting disowned by her parents, gets harassed over being gay by most of the students, except for her closeted girlfriend Alyssa (Ariana DeBose), Mrs. Greene’s daughter. At the same time, Broadway Stars Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (James Corden) have a show close on opening night (apparently). They meet up with failed actors Trent Oliver (Andrew Rannells) and Angie Dickinson (Nicole Kidman) and decide to build up some good publicity by helping Emma. While the principal of the school, Tom Hawkins (Keegan-Michael Key), is excited by the presence of the Stars, particularly Dee Dee, it turns out that a group of actors might not be the best at relating to a group of conservative Indianans… until the musical magic takes over, at least.

Three celebrities and a high-school principal. Typical.

END SUMMARY

I get why this film isn’t quite taking off the way Netflix clearly hoped. It’s tough to really give this movie a fair evaluation because it’s a happy uptempo musical addressing a dark and personal subject like homophobia. While there are a ton of musicals that have handled unpleasant subjects well, Urinetown and Rent, for example, this movie sort of hand-waves any actual consequences at the end of the story. It’s hard to pretend that it’s giving the weight that Emma’s struggle deserves while also watching a ton of people literally change their minds in a 4 minute song. Okay, it’s 4:31, per the soundtrack, but that extra 31 seconds doesn’t add a lot. 

Granted, it’s hard to be bigoted against such cuteness.

That said, if you’re willing to accept unrealistic and massive changes as part of the magical logic of a musical world, then this movie’s pretty good. The cast is amazing, as you probably guessed when you see Kerry Washington, Meryl Streep, Keegan-Michael Key, and Nicole Kidman on the cast list. That’s a murderer’s row of acting and they mostly bring their A-game. I still have not forgiven James Corden for Cats and his performance in this movie as a gay stereotype did not help, but he clearly loves to do a musical number and that really does help every time he’s on screen. Jo Ellen Pellman, who is making her film debut, comes out strong, particularly as one of the only people who sings like she’s actually in a Broadway musical, and, being a young queer woman, she adds a level of believability to the character that this movie needed. 

And she rocks a suit.

The songs are all very entertaining and the choreography is likewise. I particularly like the song by Meryl Streep “The Lady’s Improving,” which is performed by cutting between her singing it in the present and her past performance for which she apparently won a Tony. It’s a nice effect that you couldn’t really pull off on stage and it gives you a little bit more insight into the character. I’ll also say that almost any song that Jo Ellen Pellman sings stands out in the film, not just because of her voice but because they all feel the most sincere. 

Meryl can do what she wants. Always.

Overall, it’s a pretty good movie, it just has some fundamental issues on trying to tackle something bigger than it can handle.  

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Uncle Frank: Great Performances, Mediocre Film – Amazon Prime Review

Paul Bettany brings some heavy emotions, but the film can’t hold up.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

In 1973, Beth Bledsoe (Sophia Lillis) moves from her traditional Southern family in South Carolina to go to college in New York where her uncle, Frank (Paul Bettany), teaches. Beth attends a party and finds out that Frank is gay and has been living with his boyfriend Wally (Peter Macdissi) for a decade. Beth agrees to keep Frank’s secret, but this is quickly put to the test when Frank’s dad, Frank Sr. (Stephen Root), dies. Frank has to go visit his mother (Famous Celebrity Character Actress Margo Martindale), brother Mike (Steve Zahn) and his wife Kitty (Judy Greer), and the rest of his family, which is complicated when Wally tries to secretly follow along. 

You could guess what decade it is just from this shot.

END SUMMARY

I constantly go back and forth about how much a good performance can salvage a mediocre or even bad film, but this movie is proof that a bunch of good performances can at least keep a mediocre outing interesting. What’s really sad is that, with relatively few changes, it feels like this movie could have been amazing, because Bettany and Lillis really seem to nail their characters far beyond what was on the page. 

Their interplay is strong.

The problem with this movie is the same problem that many films about a queer character coming out to a conservative family has: It wants to have it both ways. It wants the main character to go through the dread of interacting with a family that might reject him (despite the fact that he’s used a beard for a while) and also to have the family not really be monstrous towards him so that it seems reasonable that he still wants to be with them. To its credit, the film does a better job than many movies, like Happiest Season for example, because not everyone in the film goes immediately from “gays are defective” to “rainbow pride,” but it still makes a lot of the characters come off as less real than they need to be for this kind of drama. 

Stephen Root’s character is too unbelievable in a different way.

The other problem with this movie is that they actually waste a ton of the talent in the cast by not giving them more to work with. While I may have thought Judy Greer ended up being a little underused in Halloween, this is exactly the kind of film where she could have shone if given something good to say. The same is true of Margo Martindale, who, as BoJack Horseman repeatedly informed us, makes everything she’s in better, as well as Steve Zahn, who, honestly, has a few decent scenes as Beth’s cantankerous and somewhat off-putting father. 

Margo Martindale is a treasure. Always.

Overall, the movie isn’t bad. It’s actually pretty good. It just needed a little polish to be great and I think it’s sad that it didn’t reach that mark. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Futurama Fridays – S7E15 “2-D Blacktop”

Futurama becomes 2-D… er.

SUMMARY

The Professor (Billy West) finishes supercharging the Planet Express ship, now called “Bessie,” but Leela (Katey Sagal) complains that safety is more important than speed. When the crew tries to leave, the ship malfunctions and crashes. After Leela has the ship taken to the junkyard, Farnsworth goes and rebuilds it using scrap. As he flies it home, he is accosted by a gang of racers, resulting in the Professor agreeing to a race. The Professor reveals that he’s heavily modified the ship and wins the race using a dimensional drift. The Professor joins the racers’ crew. Meanwhile, Leela orders a very boring and beige box spaceship which is incredibly safe. On its maiden voyage, the ship delivers the package for them, leaving Fry and Bender (West and John DiMaggio) sad at the lack of adventure. As she becomes increasingly boring, the Professor, now a street racer, mocks her. She challenges him to a race on the Mobius Dragstrip. During the course of the race, the two ships collide while the Professor is doing a dimensional drift and flatten.

I love this joke.

Everyone assumes that Fry, Leela, and the Professor are dead, but it turns out they were just compressed into two dimensions. It also turns out that Bender was on the ship so that he can be there for this. The group experiments with their new 2-D life before meeting the locals, the lords of flatbush. At a feast, Farnsworth tries to explain 3-D to the 2-D king, leading to the crew being declared heretics. Leela suggests they try to use the dimensional drift to get back to 3-D. Just as the ship starts to be destroyed at the scrapyard, the Professor pulls it off and the crew return to normal.

The lords of Flatbush are not particularly well-drawn.

END SUMMARY

This episode manages to do two great parodies in one. In the first half, the Professor’s racing crew is an over-the-top version of every ‘80s and ‘90s movie about teen drag racers. It’s deliberately multicultural and the names are as ridiculous as you’d expect: Minx, Bazzo, Jibby, and Benniton. Minx is the most notable, having a tragic backstory of verbal abuse from her father, only for it to be revealed that it was what her father “left unsaid.” It’s a shot at how common it was to explain that female members of gangs in those movies came from broken homes. 

Welcome to the future where gangs are very ’90s.

The second half is a parody of the 1884 book Flatland by Edwin Abbott Abbott (yes, real name). It’s a story about a world populated by geometric shapes featuring a square that interacts with one dimensional points that can’t comprehend him and then a three-dimensional sphere that the square can’t comprehend. The show takes most of the ideas behind living on a two-dimensional plane and shows how insane they would be in “reality.” It also makes some fun sight gags, like having Fry try to eat a fraction of a picture of a pile of fruit, or having Farnsworth refer to the audience as seeing things from the Z-axis. 

The ship got some modifications, then flattened.

Overall, pretty decent episode. I especially like that they name the ship “Bessie” here so that they can make a joke in a few episodes.

This episode also gave us Pimparoo, the best sight gag ever.

FAVORITE JOKE

The Mobius Dragstrip. It’s a giant mobius strip, meaning that it is a single surface that has only one side and one boundary curve. The show makes sure to drive this home by having one of the gang members point out that technically driving through both sides of the flat surface, something that would appear to be two laps, is only one lap. This results in one of my favorite lines “You kids and your topology.” I may be biased because I studied topology.

Dear F-Zero: THIS.

See you next week, meatbags.

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91 Days: It’s Prohibition-Era Punisher – HBO Max Review

I just found out this was on HBO Max and if you haven’t watched it, you need to.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Welcome to the 1920s, where everything is great unless you want to get drunk legally or avoid polio or racism. Angelo Lagusa (Takashi Kondo/Austin Tindle) watched his family get murdered as a young boy by the Vanetti crime family. Seven years later, under the alias Avilio Bruno, Angelo returns to the town of Lawless, Illinois to exact vengeance upon the Vanetti crime family, infiltrating the organization through befriending Nero Vanetti (Takuya Eguchi/Ian Moore), the son of the Don, Vincenzo Vanetti (Kazuhiro Yamaji/Jeremy Schwartz). In a mere 91 days, Angelo plans to meticulously assassinate every member of the family, and Lawless will run with blood.

Angelo and Nero: Best friends.

END SUMMARY

This show is one of the best anime I’ve seen. I first saw it several years ago, but since it is now available for streaming on HBO Max, I felt like I should make sure to get the word out. This show is only 12 half-hour episodes long (plus one OVA special) and it makes full use of every minute of it. Fights are brutal and short. Conversations are, mostly, likewise. Angelo is the kind of person who thinks everything through, and his planning skills often reach Batman levels, if Batman put more of his enemies in the ground like the Punisher. Either way, the show cuts to the point and it’s great.

He usually just shoots people in the head. It works.

Despite the large cast for such a short run, all of the characters make sense. They’ve got their own motivations and the motives are believable. Not that a lot of them aren’t over-the-top in their conduct and appearance in the way that only anime characters really can be, but they’re all relatable. As the show goes on and the cycle of violence escalates, many of them start making decisions that reflect how killing starts to take a piece of your soul. The best part of the show is seeing how Angelo interacts with everyone, often seeming to become friendly with them before pulling the trigger.

Even in the 1920s, anime requires a clown man doing karate.

My one caveat here is that the original Japanese with subtitles is preferable to the dub. The accents in the dub will start to get on your nerves, in all likelihood. Oh, and you can skip episode 8. It’s one of those anime recap episodes designed to get more use out of animation.

The style on the outfits is pretty great.

Overall, though, this is a hell of a show and if you like mob stories or revenge stories, I recommend it. 

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Sheena: Tanya Roberts, Queen of the Jungle – Amazon Review

Someone requested I review this film starring the late Tanya Roberts. 

SUMMARY (Spoilers)

It’s the 80s. After her parents (Michael Shannon and Nancy Paul) die while investigating the magical healing dirt of the Zambouli people, young Janet Ames (Tanya Roberts/Kirsty Lindsay/Kathryn Gant) is adopted by the Zambouli Shaman (Princess Elizabeth of Toro). The Shaman believes Janet, whom she renames Sheena, is a prophesied child who will become queen of the jungle. Sheena learns to telepathically command animals and lives a mostly peaceful life. Unfortunately, the king of Tigora (Clifton Jones), the country that the Zambouli live in, is assassinated by his brother Otwani (Trevor Thomas) and his fiance Zanda (France Zobda). Otwani wants to sell mining rights to the Zambouli land and conspires with mercenary Colonel Jorgensen (John Forgeham) to frame the Shaman for the murder. A visiting pair of reporters, Vic Casey and Fletch Agronsky (Ted Wass and Donovan Scott) catch the real killing on film, putting them on the run until they witness Sheena rescue the Shaman. Vic follows Sheena while Fletch goes to get the footage out. Vic and Sheena fall in love. Sheena uses animals to fight mercenaries. Bad guy loses. Yay.

There are animals.

END SUMMARY

This movie has one of the oddest criticisms leveled at it that I’ve ever run into: This movie contains a lot of full nude scenes of Tanya Roberts but is rated PG. This apparently was one of the major reasons why some big names, including Siskel and Ebert, openly condemned the movie. It’s not even just a little flash of nudity, it’s at least two scenes and one is fairly long. I can’t really fault the criticism, since, if you removed those scenes, this film is actually pretty much the kind of fare that you would market to younger audiences. I guess the news about that got out pretty fast, because this movie was also a colossal flop, as opposed to being the thing that every teenage boy watched every single weekend in theaters. Or maybe that means the news DIDN’T get out. 

Behold, a family film.

It probably doesn’t help that this is an adaptation of a 1930s comic book which ages about as well as you would expect a comic from the 1930s about a white woman ruling an African jungle is likely to hold up. Yeah, it was pretty racist. This movie, while it does have the “white savior” problem at its forefront, weirdly tries to balance that out by having the villain be a black guy who was “corrupted” by America (he’s a professional football player. No, really). I don’t know how well that works in terms of progressing the comic out of the 1930s, but I know that it does make the villain more interesting.

Yeah, this comic was not kind to the animals. Or Africans.

The upside to this movie is that it is gloriously campy and filled with amazing shots of animals. At one point there is a weaponized flamboyance of flamingos, at another there’s a chimp faking a sneeze. Elephants, zebras, you name it, the film probably has it in great supply. As to the performances, they’re all exactly what you would think for a movie like this. Yes, they’re mostly cheap stereotypes, but they get the job done. Then there’s Tanya Roberts. While her performance as Sheena was never going to win her any Oscars, there’s no denying that she absolutely looks the part of a wild and athletic woman. They also give an explanation for why her hair and skin look amazing, which is surprising for this kind of film. 

She has a zebra friend.

Also, this movie stars Princess Elizabeth of Toro, whose life needs a biopic as much as anyone ever has. I can’t even summarize it very well, but suffice it to say that she was a princess who was exiled when Uganda got taken over, became a lawyer and a runway model, then acted in this movie. Crazy.

The first female Lawyer in Uganda.

Overall, this isn’t a great film, but it’s a fun movie that should probably not have been trashed the way it was. 

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