Into the Wild Green Yonder Movie Review

Into the Wild Green Yonder Movie Review
Directed by Peter Avanzino
Written by Matt Groening, David X. Cohen, and Ken Keeler
Release Date: 24 February 2009
Running Time: 89 minutes
Editor’s Rating: 3.5 out of 4 Encyclopods

Futurama is one of those shows that just doesn’t know how to die. Or maybe the show’s futuristic sci-fi premise allows it to live several quantum lifetimes which come and go into our plane of existence whenever it so chooses. Or maybe it’s because people get excited about a nostalgic show coming back and then once the honeymoon period goes away, it fades away once again. Either way, the show was known for its broad, sarcastic, and nerdy sense of humor, which is why I loved the crap out of it. Recently, I’ve been rewatching the series and got to the straight-to-DVD films they did. While they’re not as good as some episodes, they’re still worthy of mention. Which is what brings me to the last film out of the four they released. Not because it’s the best of them, or because it’s the worst, but just because I’m slightly dyslexic and like beginning from the end of things.

Elevator summary of the show: a guy from the year 1999, Philip J. Fry, has been cryogenically unfrozen in the year 3000. He ends up taking a job as a delivery boy at Planet Express, the company started by his great-to-the-nth- power-nephew, Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth, a doddering old mad scientist. From there, he and his crew at PlanEx go on silly misadventures throughout space (and time).

So this story gets going when Leo Wong, father of perpetual Planet Express intern Amy Wong, decides to build a gigantic interstellar miniature golf course that would take up twelve percent of the Milky Way. This draws ire from a radical feminist-eco-terrorist group known as the Feministas, an all-female group of space hippies. As they’re laughed off by the misogyny and arrogance of the all-male powers that be, they end up getting more reinforcements as boys continue to be boys. One of those ladies ends up being Leela, Fry’s long-unrequited love interest. She makes the Feministas more than just the annoyance they were before, leading them on acts of sabotage and other fun acts of civil disobedience. As they try to stop Leo, and as Fry realizes he’s once again savior to the galaxy (this happens often in the series), things are about to get real Star Trek 4-y on us.

There’s a lot of social commentary going on in these ninety minutes, even more so than the series might have accustomed long-time fans to. And while it does tend to get tiresome at some points, the opposing sides of feminism and patriarchy are represented by equally funny stereotypes, from the smelly hippies of the Waterfall clan and the League of Mad Fellows to the outrageous jowl gyrations of Richard Nixon’s head. It’s kind of odd to see an animated show tackle this stuff so blatantly at this point in time. I mean sure, Family Guy and The Simpsons might have done an episode about it or something, but it was always implicit and then, there were no consequences to the characters for screwing with the way things were. Here, things get real. Well, as real as they can be for a cartoon.

Into the Wild Green Yonder really feels, at least for the last half, as a chance to talk about issues that the showrunners cared about before giving us all a fond farewell, as the show’s last hurrah (at least until the show’s second rebirth in 2011). And as the film draws to a close, the beautiful MacGuffin they fly into preserves them forever as the crew we had been such huge fans of during the show’s original run. It’s a great little bow to pop on a series that had been uniquely funny and charming when a lot of television wasn’t. Thankfully, it was a bow on a present that got unwrapped in 2011.

The film is fun, quirky, and quintessentially Futurama. So I guess that means you may want to leave the kids out of it, depending on how you feel about pointed commentary and opinions that become interspersed with farts, butt jokes and sex puns. So give it watch. It’ll be a great time.

** I watched this film through a streaming video service I pay for. I was not compensated for this review.**

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