Well Futurama is back for better or worse and throughout Bender’s Big Score, it’s not always obvious which it is. By the fourth season Futurama was in many ways a much weaker series than it had been starting out and while Bender’s Big Score is mostly better than the fourth season, it’s not that much better.
Not that long ago another animated TV series, Family Guy, decided to make a movie featuring its most popular character, Stewie, and a plot involving time travel and duplicates. Well Futurama to do the same thing with Bender’s Big Score. Like the Family Guy movie though, Bender’s Big Score is completely unbalanced. Where the Simpsons movie at least had a coherent plot, Futurama’s Bender’s Big Score is a dozen plots crudely tied together.
Just about every character who has had a memorable appearance on Futurama returns for Bender’s Big Score, from evil Robot Santa to Al Gore to Leela’s parents to Fry’s nephew namesake to Zap Brannigan to Nixon’s head. But the stories feel very much like trunk stories that were kicking around for years. Case in point the plot involves spam, the sort of thing TV writers were writing about years ago. The jokes are so old one of them involves the 2000 election.
The Straight to DVD format allows for slightly riskier material, but not by much. The opening takes the crew to a nude beach planet which isn’t far afield from what you would have seen on Futurama on TV. After that it’s pretty much tame city.
Characterwise, Bender and Fry and Leela get to be front and center and bizarrely enough the writers though that Hermes needed a lot of screentime. Zoydberg barely even shows up. Bender gets overexposed, a problem that became common with Futurama Season 4, see Bender Shouldn’t Be on TV. Leela’s storyline is tedious and mostly so is Fry’s. The entire premise of who Lars is, is silly and absurd. And Leelo the Narwahl whale is even more tedious.
Somewhere inside Bender’s Big Score is a pretty funny 30 minute episode. But like the Hedonism Bot (yes he makes an appearance too) as a movie it’s swollen out of proportion into an obese waddling mess composed of too many stories and too many plotlines and reveals. It’s not that there aren’t plenty of funny moments, from Bender raiding Sweden to the Professor and the Spanish National Lottery, it’s just that as a Futurama movie, Bender’s Big Score just doesn’t hold together.
Futurama Bender’s Big Score goes straight to DVD November 27th. That’s 5 days from now.