Review of Futurama Movie: The Beast with a Billion Backs

Futurama, the animated comedy created by Matt Groening, lasted on Fox from 1999-2003. It became popular again on Adult Swim, on Cartoon Network, from 2003-2007, when it was picked up by Comedy Central. It was then announced that there would be four movies:

Bender's Big Score
The Beast With a Billion Backs
Bender's Game
Into the Wild Green Yonder


This is a summary and review of Movie Number 2: The Beast With a Billion Backs.

A screencap from Futurama: BWABB
A screencap from Futurama: BWABB | Source

Plot Summary of Beast with a Billion Backs (BWABB)

Spoiler alerts!! The following is a plot summary of the movie.

  • There is a crack in the universe from the previous movie: called "the anomaly."
  • Fry now has a new girlfriend Colleen (played by Brittany Murphy). What happened with Leela? We don't know.
  • Kif and Amy finally get married on his home world.
  • Colleen, it turns out, has 5 boyfriends who all live together. Fry can't handle polyamory. Colleen and Fry break up.
  • There is a scientific convention to learn about the anomaly. It is discovered that living beings can pass through the anomaly but electrical beings (aka robots) can't. President Nixon sends Zap to the anomaly; Fry stows away on the ship to escape Colleen.
  • Apparently the anomaly is a gateway to another universe. Fry enters the other universe.
  • Kif is killed when he gets stuck to the missile shot at the anomaly.

Fry enters the other universe, Kif's death is imminent.
Fry enters the other universe, Kif's death is imminent. | Source
  • In the other universe is a large creature with tentacles; it enters our universe and starts attacking people. The attack consists of the tentacle attaching itself to the backs of people's necks and "converting" them to The Tentacle. (The religious imagery is blatant.) People "love" the tentacle once it gets them.
  • Tentacle completely takes over Earth. Leela, Amy, and Zap are the only free humans left. Then Amy and Zap sleep together and then both fall prey to the tentacle. Leela is now the only free human left.
  • Fry becomes the pope of the tentacle "religion." We finally discover that the tentacle creature is sentient and has a name: Yivo. Yivo is neither she nor he; it says to use the pronoun "shklee."
  • Apparently it wasn't just a religious attack. Yivo was actually mating with everyone on Earth. Everyone gets mad. To stop people from being mad, Yivo brings Kif back to life, then leaves everyone's neck.
  • Universe starts over with Yivo, goes on a date with Yivo.
  • Bender discovers that there is a secret League of Robots. League of Robots gathers an army to overthrow humanity.
  • All living beings move to the other universe to live with Yivo. The robots are left alone on Earth with no one to attack.
  • All humanity ascends to the other universe on golden, angelic elevators. Heaven imagery is blatant.
  • The other universe even looks like our image of heaven with clouds and angels. Everyone is happy and in love. 
  • Robots figure out how to attack Yivo and the other universe. All the humans come back to Earth. Everyone is mad because they lost a chance at heaven.
  • Ends with everyone fighting.

Yivo, the tentacle creature from the other universe
Yivo, the tentacle creature from the other universe | Source

My Critique: Some funny moments, but Futurama can do better

First, let me say, I love Futurama. It is my favorite TV show because of its wit, intelligence, and mix of funny and serious. I also like that most of the time, it has something interesting to say to its viewers.

Now, that said, I think the movie went a little too far in trying to send a specific message. Instead of blending social commentary and immature humor, like the Futurama I love, I think this movie tried too hard to shove the commentary down our throats.

It starts out with a stinging analogy of religious brainwashing, as "The Tentacle" slowly converts everyone on Earth. I don't mind commentary on religion; I thought most of this part of the movie was fairly clever, although a bit too in-your-face. If the movie had ended 45 minutes earlier than it did, I probably wouldn't have had a problem with the commentary. Plus, in the first half of the movie, there were some classic Futurama lines that are as quotable as many in the 4-year series.

Unfortunately, from there, the movie seems to become an entirely different animal. It turns into this weird mix of messages about religion, racism, love, and friendship, with some Pirates of the Caribbean references thrown in for good measure. It tries too hard to do too much.

The worst part, in my opinion? It acts as though the previous movie (and the end of the series) never happened. The poignant (though weird) love story between Fry and Leela from Bender's Big Score is completely ignored. The two of them are as oblivious as ever, and it's like there was never anything between them. And, as a huge fan of the last episode of the series, The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings, I was expecting something better. It appears that Futurama works better as a TV show than as a movie.

Awkward moment at Kif and Amy's wedding
Awkward moment at Kif and Amy's wedding | Source

Classic Lines from Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs

Mrs. Wong: Kif's parents come late and we have to stand around in swamp getting eaten alive by damn bugs! (slap)
Kif: Mrs. Wong, no! The final stage of my species' life cycle is a colony of flying hookworms. You just ... squashed part of my father.
Kif's father: Welcome.
Mrs. Wong: Sorry. I guess you got plenty of bugs to spare, though, huh?
Kif's father: That was my left testicle.
Bender: And the awkward-nator goes up another notch! Ding ding ding ding!

Nixon: If there's one thing Nixon is known for, it's class!

Bender: Look! I got you a cabbage to snack on! Humans like cabbage, right?

Fry: Colleen, will you be moved in with by me?

Boyfriend #2: You're just here cause she got matzah fever.
Boyfriend #3: And what's the explanation for you? Moron fever?

The calamitorium
The calamitorium | Source

Professor: Emergency! Emergency! Everyone to the calamitorium!

Calculon: Your derangement is impressive. I'm appointing you my official stalker.
Bender: You shan't be disappointed!

Zap: Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream. To kill him, so we won't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things!

Professor: Less invasions, more equations!

Amy (to Kif): Be careful, my little teeny greeny weenie.
Zap: Uh, that's just a fungal infection. Oh. She's talking to you, Kif.

Fry: I'm sorry. I should have asked what was bothering you. I've been kind of preoccupied.
Bender: With what?
Fry: Well, I went to another universe. Then I fell in love with a giant octopus. And now I'm pope of a new religion.
Bender: Weren't you already pope of something?
Fry: No.

Fry: I'm sorry, Bender. Robots don't go to heaven.

Bender: Love doesn't share itself with the world. Love is suspicious. Love is needy. Love is fearful. Love is greedy. My friends, there is no great love without great jealousy. I love you, meatbags!

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