Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars Is A Thing. A Wonderful Thing
I didn’t set out to make reviewing kids movies a recurring segment, but it’s a large part of what I do with my kids, not totally outside of LICD’s scope, and a subject I have a lot of thoughts about, so here we are.
And by here, I mean Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars!
Phineas and Ferb?
You know what Disney doesn’t get enough credit for? Constantly creating animated series that define a generation and yet mean almost nothing to almost everyone outside of that generation. Like, a tonne of Goof Troop/The Goofy Movie memes showed up out of nowhere on my feed not long ago, and they were all “I used to relate to Max, now I related to Goofy” meanwhile I only remember Goof Troop as “it’s no Duck Tales”.
Phineas and Ferb is one of those shows. And the thing about those shows isn’t that they’re written especially for a narrow audience, they’re just marketed that way. In fact, in the case of Phineas and Ferb, it’s intelligently written with broad appeal, you just need to find these shows to realize how good they are.
I happened across Phineas and Ferb during a 2010 trip to Disney with my wife. We stayed on site, and the Disney hotels only played the Disney channel. I only caught bits of the episodes I watched, but they left a positive enough impression that ten years later when I stumbled across Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars on Disney+, I was as excited for the Phineas and Ferb side of that title as I was the Star Wars side.
I can’t think of another piece of media that has been spoofed as much as Star Wars. And this was a Disney-produced Star Wars spoof, one of the first original Star Wars projects Disney produced after acquiring it in 2012. Is there anything left to spoof?
More Than A Spoof
The creators went Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars. It’s an interquel, and a well crafted one.
The main plot is that the Death Star plans accidentally fell out of R2, unbeknownst to the astromech droid or any of the rebels. Phineas and Ferb try to catch up with the heroes with the lost CD, while a trio of Storm Troopers (lead by TK-90210, played by Phineas and Ferb’s sister from the series) try to prove they’re worth better assignments than shopping for Vader’s socks.
Amazingly, even this has been done. Tag & Bink are characters from a series of Dark Horse Star Wars comics volumes in which two rebels humourously stumble into the background of important scenes from the original trilogy.
The challenge of an interquel (a follow-up story that takes place during the events of an early story, in this case A New Hope) is to create a story that stands on it’s own and integrates with the original meaningfully without contradicting the original. What makes Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars work so well is that they specifically nail making an effective interquel.
The best example is the trash compactor scene. Darthenshmirtz (a character I didn’t mention in the summary because this 1-hour special is surprisingly plot-dense) needs something touched by Darth Vader (for reasons that would take too long to explain because, again, plot-density). He consults with the dianoga, the creature from the trash compactor, who starts fishing around the trash, pulling out random objects before getting its tentacle on Luke Skywalker in Storm Trooper disguise. Darthenshmirtz scoffs at anyone needing that and the dejected dianoga lets him go. Then Darthenshmirtz accidentally turns on the compactor on his way out.
The scene is brilliant for a lot of reasons. It fits perfectly in with the original scene, offering an alternate explanation to the one we are left to assume of why the creature let Luke go. It’s funny on its own, especially the child-like excitement on the dianoga’s face as Luke fails in its grasp. The dianoga’s design even seems to be based on the Star Wars Expanded Universe take on the creature.
This isn’t the only nod to the larger Star Wars franchise. There’s a song about how much Phineas and Ferb love Tattooine, and never want to leave it that is, again, full of Star Wars in-jokes but funny on its own. Also, there are Special Edition and prequel references that you don’t normally see in Star Wars spoofs (or if you do, it’s to mock them), showing that this was written for and probably by a younger Star Wars fan than we’re used to. It adds to the fresh feeling that separates this from other spoofs, even the well done ones.
Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars inspired a new rating system for when I watch movies with my kids. I call it the Got Milk rating:
1. You girls want some milk? I am looking for excuses to not be watching this right now.
2. Sure, I’ll get you some milk. I am probably enjoying this, but am not going to miss anything if I go to the kitchen for a few minutes.
3. Get your own milk! What, you want me to miss this? I don’t even want to pause it and mess up the flow!
Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars is definitely Get Your Own Milk for me. I only wish I knew Phineas and Ferb better because I’m sure I’m missing at least a third of the jokes by not being familiar with the characters, relationships, and storylines. Fortunately, this was so entertaining, I could miss a third of the jokes and still have a great time.