Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars (DVD)

Just wait until Phineas and Ferb: Videodrome.

My secret confession: Although I’ve heard good things, I’d never seen Phineas and Ferb before putting this disc in the player. What do I think, after watching it? I’m a believer, baby!

The story you know: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Princess Leia hides the Death Star plans with R2-D2 before she is captured. R2 ends up with Luke Skywalker, who, with his new friends, rescues the princess and uses the plans to destroy the Death Star.

The story you don’t know: While on Tatooine, R2 has a brief run-in with moisture farming stepbrothers Phineas and Ferb, accidentally leaving the Death Star plans in their possession. Now, Phineas and Ferb are off to the Death Star in pursuit of Luke, to return the plans and help the rebels win the day.

What a pleasant surprise this turned out to be. The hour-long TV special Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars manages that perfect three-way balance of comedy that is one part pop culture savvy, one part kid-friendly slapstick, and one part random craziness. This is anything goes comedy, but it’s smart anything goes comedy.

For this Star Wars spoof, the Phineas and Ferb characters are playing the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead game (or, for fans, the “Tag and Bink” game). The story of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope plays out as it always has, while the Phineas and Ferb cast runs around having their own space adventure, with their story intersecting with Luke and company’s familiar story at key points. It’s a fun way to spoof Star Wars other than the obvious “dress the characters like Jedi” gags (though there is some of that).

Then there are the songs. Holy crap, the songs! Without the songs, Phineas and Ferb would be a great show, but the songs elevate it into the upper echelon of outstanding shows. Upon hearing the first few musical numbers, I ran to my computer to see whether Weird Al Yankovic had a hand in writing the songs. He didn’t, but the songs have that same hilariously-funny-while-also-surprisingly-well-produced quality that we all associate with good ol’ Al. I especially liked “Tatooine,” in which the desert planet is not a hive of scum and villainy but a place to be celebrated, “In the Empire,” about life seen from a Stormtooper’s point of view, and, best of all, “Rebel Let’s Go,” a feel-good celebratory anthem that I simply can’t stop singing.

If you’re a Phineas and Ferb newbie like me, this disc has you covered, because there’s a whopping five bonus episodes. The gist of the show is that preteen stepbrothers Phineas (Vincent Martella, The Walking Dead) and Ferb (Thomas Brodie-Sangster, The Maze Runner) are mischievous inventors, with older sister Candace (Ashley Tisdale, High School Musical) always trying to get them in trouble. B-plots have to do with Perry, the boys’ pet platypus (!) who is actually a secret agent (!!) battling the machinations of the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz (voiced by co-creator Dan Povenmire). This already-loose framework exists merely for the writers and animators to come up with as much comedic insanity that they can come up with. Although the Perry subplots are celebrated as part of the show’s uniqueness, I didn’t them as enjoyable as Phineas and Ferb’s antics, but to each their own.

This disc features both Halloween and New Year’s Eve-themed episodes, and three others that lean heavily toward sci-fi, no doubt to lean close to the Star Wars thing. The steampunk episode is especially hilarious and well-made. Another episode, however, is a direct sequel to the TV movie Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, and doesn’t really work as a stand-alone. Each episode has at least one musical number, and they’re all excellent.

No complaints about the DVD, which offers a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer boasting vivid colors, smooth animation, and booming 2.0 stereo sound. In addition to the bonus episodes, the package also comes with a metal keychain depicting Perry frozen in carbonite. Perry’s no good to you dead.

I looked this special up online and wow — no one, I mean no one does pure mouth-frothing hatred better than Star Wars fans…

* “Disney has ruined Star Wars!”
* “Lucas has sold out!”
* “This is blasphemy!”
* “Phineas and Ferb have [CENSORED] my childhood!”

Even if the special didn’t start with a joke about how this is not canon (which it does), I fail to see how folks fail to understand that this is parody. It is celebrating Star Wars, and not ruining anything.

A few days ago, I had never seen Phineas and Ferb, and now it’s one of my all-time favorite shows.


Not guilty. May the Ferb be with you.

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