All the Futurama movies have had that stretched out element that reminds you of a stand up comedian with a half hour set who just realized he’ll have to make the jokes stretch for an hour and a half, but on Bender’s Game the stretch marks are really obvious and very much in your face.
While the first two Futurama movies were certainly flawed, they at least had a big idea behind them, from time travel to deism. Bender’s Game has nothing like that. Instead Bender’s Game is nothing more than a mediocre Futurama episode with another story about Mom trying to take over things, stretched out with an extended Lord of the Rings and generic fantasy quest parody. There’s no big idea, but even worse there’s not even much in the way of comedy.
To shoehorn in the long fantasy quest parody, the first half hour of Bender’s Game brings us long unfunny scenes of the Professor’s clone and Hermes’ son playing Dungeons and Dragons. Arguably Dungeons and Dragons jokes are a little dated in the age of World of Warcraft, but so is an extended parody of the Lord of the Rings movies in 2008, and half of the jokes that fill Bender’s Game.
Bender however becomes obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons, until he actually believes he’s living in an imaginary fantasy kingdom and has to be institutionalized. Meanwhile Mom, who now runs an energy conglomerate, has cornered the market on Dark Matter, which the professor can undo by bringing his anti-crystal close to her crystal, the mission that will fill the rest of the movie. But not until even more tedious stories about Leela entering a demolition derby and getting a shock collar to control her anger are wrapped up.
The rest of Bender’s Game is dedicated to the gang trying to break into Mom’s arctic fortress only to be sucked into the fantasy universe, for an extended fantasy quest parody, which also holds the only funny elements in the movie. Unfortunately that means waiting around for the last half hour to get any laughs that don’t involve Mom’s sons posing as owl exterminators or Dr. Zoydberg pulling keys out of the professor’s stomach with a magnet.
And it’s Dr. Zoydberg’s occasional bits and the return of Roberto that are the only reliably funny things in Bender’s Game. Bender’s Game has all the staples of Futurama movies, the outdated references, the stretched out episodic feel to the whole thing, the bits of pointless cartoon nudity to remind everyone that we’re not watching this on FOX anymore, and the B Stories that aren’t funny and don’t really matter. But Bender’s Game has nothing to transcend those flaws the way previous movies did. There’s no big idea, just a half-assed series of stories divided up among the writers, that with their failure makes you really appreciate what the previous Futurama movies did right.