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Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this animated straight-to-DVD movie (the second of four Futurama films) has the same level of sassiness as the Fox TV series. There's bad behavior galore, lots of cheekiness and discourtesy -- oh yes, and tons of intergalactic warfare, planetary peril, diabolical scheming, threats of human obliteration, pummeling, name calling, and the like. A god-like alien who seems at first fiendish, attaches its tentacles to the bodies of humans in what is later explained to be copulation. At one point most earthlings are mind-controlled into cult-like compliance. It's however mostly harmless silliness and so "out there" as to have minimal real-life relevance.
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What's the story?
Following directly after the events of the first in the DVD series, Bender's Big Score, a giant rift in space and timeallows an alien monster to invade Earth. The monster takes control of Fry (voiced by Billy West) making him Pope of a new religion or cult, that spreads among earthlings who are grasped by one of the giant tentacles of the alien. The tentacles are later revealed to be "gentacles" and, as it turns out, the alien (Yivo, played by David Cross) has been having his version of intercourse with all the humans. He convinces them that he really wants love and a meaningful relationship (with all of humanity). Only Leela (Katey Sagal) Fry's gutsy, competent one-eyed pal, is skeptical.
Is it any good?
A straight-to-DVD movie, THE BEAST WITH A BILLION BACKS is a lesser and longer version of Futurama, which is itself a lesser version of the brilliant and enduring Simpsons TV show. Which basically means this is a stretched-out form of a water-downed copy of a TV classic. That said, it does have some elements of Matt Groening's zany wit, his absurdist humor, and quick-as-lightening visual gags.
These moments are partially eclipsed by an over-stimulating assault of goings on that go by much too fast. From an adult perspective, this is a case of more being less. The antics are nonstop, preposterous, and often silly enough for the young, but the actual storyline, which concerns dating, polygamy, sex, and in essence, going steady with and shacking up with God, is a tad complex and too sophisticated for younger viewers. Still, Futurama's vast creativity, out-of-the-box storytelling, and eye-catching animation makes this movie, like the series, terrifically unique.
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