Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mom and Dad Save the World (1992)



Title: Mom and Dad Save The World (1992)

Director: Greg Beeman

Writer: Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson

Cast: Jon Lovitz, Jeffrey Jones, Teri Garr, Eric Idle
Review:

I am a great admirer of the legendary English comedy troupe Monty Python, you know, the guys behind Monty Python and The Holy Grail (1975), Life of Brian (1979) and The Meaning of Life (1983), three movies I never get tired of watching. I love how their stuff seems silly, but actually talks about a lot of important themes and subject matter. If you’re a fan of the Monty Python guys like I am, then you also probably admire the films of director Terry Gilliam, who was at one point one of the Python guys, but then branched out to make films of his own. Films like Time Bandits (1981) and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989). Gilliam is yet another director who mixes comedy and satire in his films, he often times criticizes societies obsession with reality and preaches on about our god given right to delight in fantasies, escapism and stories! Mom and Dad Save the World seems to come from that same ‘Pythonesque’ universe, that universe that cares not for logic or rules, but for zaniness! 


In Mom and Dad Save the World we meet Dick and Marge Nelson, two loopy parents who are about to embark on a summer vacation, just the two of them, the kids stay at home. Unfortunately for Dick and Marge, millions of miles into space, Tod Spengo, ruler of planet Spengo has fallen madly in love with Marge, whom he has spotted while scoping the galaxy for a planet to destroy. Obsessed with Marge, Spengo uses his giant magnet and pulls her and Dick through space (along with their station wagon) all the way to the edge of the universe, where planet Spengo lies. Once they get their, they meet the self proclaimed ‘Spengoans’.  Their ruler, Tod Spengo, wants Marge as his Queen and wants to kill Dick, so he can have Marge all to himself. Too bad for Tod, Dick manages to escape and unite with the rebels of planet Spengo, whom he organizes to go on a revolt against Tod and his fascist (yet moronic) empire while rescuing his wife in the process!


So this movie is all kinds of fun for me, I really don’t get why it didn’t make more money way back when it was released in 1992. For some reason this film was completed in 1990 but not released by the studio until 1992. Why? I don’t know, but if you ask me to speculate either the studio wasn’t sure the movie was going to sell, they couldn’t figure out how to market it or maybe there was a change in management in the studio, these are usually the reasons why a studio would hold back a movie like that. Maybe they just thought they had a bad film in their hands. Who knows. The film had a budget of 16 million but only made back little more than 2 million. It only played for one week in theaters! Another problem the film probably encountered is that though from afar it looks like a silly film (and it is) it does have some double entendre jokes that might have made it difficult to sell it as a kids film. Had the titular parents taken the kids along in the adventure, instead of leaving them at home and brought down the raunchy jokes, then maybe they could have sold it as a kids film, as it is, this is a very silly film for adults. And that’s always a hard sell any way you look at it.


But whatever, I like the film the way it is. The art direction is really cool, the sets look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book and so do the creatures which range from killer mushrooms to midgets with the head of a dog or a fish, sounds crazy, I know, but that’s the kind of movie this is. The jokes are decidedly ‘Pythonesque’ in style, it’s obvious the writer and director adore Monty Python and Terry Gilliam style of comedy. One funny scene has the self proclaimed idiots from planet Spengo picking up a  weapon that makes anyone who touches it instantly disappear. One idiot picks it up and disappears, the next one picks it up and disappears, and the next one picks it up….all because the device says “pick me up”.  So the humor, while quite silly, is also quite good.


One of the best things about this movie though is the cast. Eric Idle plays King Raff, the true king of Planet Spengo! His role is a small one, but he makes his funny mark! I’ve personally always enjoyed Jon Lovitz’s style of humor, there’s something kind of sleazy about him that fits perfectly with the character of Tod Spengo, the dictator. I loved how he worries about the silliest things like “on a level of one to ten, in terms of world dominating greatness…where would you place me?” Teri Garr was always one of my favorites, I’ve been an admirer of hers sense she played sexy laboratory assistant ‘Inga’ in Mel Brook’s  Young Frankenstein (1974), here she plays the role of the quintessential mom, taking pictures of the galaxy as she travels through space on her station wagon. And Jeffrey Jones plays the goofy father well; similar to the role he played in Tim Burton’s Bettlejuice (1988), only on this one he ends up turning into an overweight Flash Gordon.


And speaking of Flash Gordon, at the end of the day, Mom and Dad Save the World is a huge spoof of Flash Gordon films. Fans of that Flash Gordon (1980) film starring Sam Jones and Max Von Sydow will notice that this film is practically the same exact film note for note. Just switch Sam Jones for Jeffrey Jones (they even share the same last name!) Max Von Sydow for Jon Lovitz and Melody Anderson for Teri Garr and you’ll see it’s the same exact movie. Even the rebels that Jeffrey Jones ends up leading are bird people of sorts! So yeah, they might as well have called this one “Dad Gordon”. So, anyways, this film was ambitious in my book, a lot of effort went into it for it to have died such a quick death at the box office; practically unnoticed by audiences. In my opinion, it deserves to find an audience and become a cult film, if it isn’t one already. Do you enjoy films like The Ice Pirates (1984), Spaceballs (1987) or Flash Gordon (1980)? Do you like Terry Gilliam or Monty Python? Then give Mom and Dad Save the World a chance, it’s got an innocence and a goofiness to it that can’t be found in today’s films because studios play it too safe nowadays and don’t dare spend their millions on something as offbeat as this film. Still not convinced, okay, it was written by the guys who brougth you the Bill and Ted's movies and directed by the guy who made License to Drive (1988)! Mom and Dad Save the World was made during the last half of the 80’s and though it was released in ’92, it still has that 80’s silliness to it that’s hard to come by in today’s cinematic landscape. So if you want to get your 80’s groove on, look no further than this.


Rating:  3 out of 5  





4 comments:

Jorge Palacios said...

this thing used to play non-stop on HBO back in the early 90's

Francisco Gonzalez said...

It was partially produced by HBO so that makes sense

Jack Thursby said...

Remember seeing the cover for this in the video shop for years but never rented it. Thanks for satisfying my curiosity Franco. Might check it out for the Bill and Ted connection.

Francisco Gonzalez said...

Yeah, thats the writing team of Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson. Solomon also wrote MIB, Charlies Angels, Both of the Bill and Ted movies, and Super Mario Brothers the movie, amongst others.

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