Let’s take a look at that new super bowl ad with Matthew Broderick:
Now at first glance, this appears to be a parody of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. But it isn’t. A real parody takes something you recognize and puts a comedic twist on it. Okay yes, traditionally the purpose is to mock the original work which isn’t exactly happening here, and technically maybe this is more a pastiche or whatever. But my point is this is supposed to be funny. You’re supposed to laugh when you see present day Matthew Broderick doing a parody (or whatever) of his role in Ferris Bueller. Only there aren’t any jokes in this.
It’s not bad. It’s a reasonably competent commercial. But every potentially funny moment is just a carbon copy of a moment in Ferris Bueller. The sick day call, the parade, the stuff with the car, all straight up lifted–and this is the important part–WITHOUT any new twist. They could have shown Broderick failing at all his wacky antics, playing on the fact that he’s not a kid anymore but his fancy Honda makes him feel like one anyway. In that scenario, you’re taking something familiar and changing it a little to get your joke. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the original pitch. Instead we get exact scenes from the original movie, and you’re expected to laugh just because you remember it.
I like to call this the Family Guy Maneuver because that show does it all the time. Let’s check out an example in high quality taped-off-TV-o-vision…
So yeah it’s an exact recreation of the Power of Love part of Back to the Future…and nothing else. This is basically the same as the drunk guy in the bar trying to reenact the standup routine he saw last week. Listen, I love parodies. But before you laugh, please double check your parody contains jokes.
I’m a big fan of The Venture Bros. on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim lineup of programming. Other than Robot Chicken, it’s the only Adult Swim cartoon I still watch. The fourth season blu-ray just came out, and having already secured it and quickly wolfed down every morsel of its content, let me assure you that it is a worthy purchase indeed. And the blu-ray really is the way to go. The animation is gorgeous in high def.
But that’s not why I’m writing today. Series co-creator Jackson Publick announced on his blog that not only has the show been renewed for two more pulse-pounding seasons, but a 90 minute TV movie is on the way as well. That’s huge news, and frankly, a load off my mind, since every show I like gets cancelled after a few seasons, especially quirky niche shows like Venture Bros.
The finale of season four opened up a lot of interesting possibilities, and it’s great that they’ll have at least two more seasons to explore them. One of my favorite things about the show is that the creators don’t just reset the status quo every episode. Characters grow and change, taking full advantage of the serial nature of television. A welcome surprise from a comedy cartoon that first appeared to be a straight forward parody of Johnny Quest, but has grown into an amazingly well-written show that tackles love, failure, growing up, and even death while still remaining funny and packed full of 60s throwback action.
So kudos to you, Team Venture. Here’s to many more seasons of hilarity, heartbreak, and of course, adventure.
Merry Festival of the Bells, folks! Like Logan said, it’s a short week. We wanted to get you guys the Tron/Tron Legacy show today, but holiday travel and technical difficulties intervened. We’ll have it for you next Wednesday, and, if all goes well, True Grit the week after that. It’s a Very Jeff Bridges Christmas.
Speaking of, here’s a bit of Tron to tide you over. The well-remembered 1982 Tron Holiday Special from Funny or Die.