The vicious blight of direct-to-DVD movies upon our nation's video stores is an ugly one, punishing us with such fare as American Pie: Band Camp (the first in a series of three American Pie spin-offs!) and the sure-to-be-brilliant Lost Boys: The Tribe. But here and there, there are a few bright spots, and so far, some of the brightest of those are the DVD Futurama movies. The Beast with a Billion Backs is the latest Futurama DVD movie, and the second in a series of four, and it came out last week. Hit the jump for the trailer and a quick review.
Here's all you really need to know: It's Futurama plus David Cross, which is a pretty great combination. Cross voices the titular beast, Yivo, a massive alien who.. well, pretty much wants to fuck everybody in our galaxy, and does a pretty good job of it. There's the jokey sci-fi element to all of it, but along the way, Beast with a Billion Backs gets plenty of laughs out of relationship drama (Fry gets it on with a chick voiced by Brittany Murphy!), organized religion (Fry becomes the head of one!), marriage (Kif and Amy get married!), and whatever else the writers can cram into 80 minutes. Including Stephen Hawking.
It says a lot that while Beast with a Billion Backs isn't nearly as strong as the first Futurama movie, it's still really solid. When I think of Bender's Big Score, I think of it as a TV movie, while I think of Beast with a Billion Backs as a blown-up episode from the series: The plot isn't as strong, the whole thing feels kinda jumbled, and all in all, it's simply not as good or as funny as Bender's Big Score. But even not-great episodes of Futurama are still worth watching--like Arrested Development, there's enough great stuff packed in there that even when they aren't firing on all cylinders, the overall product is still funnier than most other stuff out there--and Beast with a Billion Backs is no exception. Plus, did I mention Stephen Hawking? Stephen Hawking kind of rules.