I can’t imagine what an alien visitor, new to our culture, would make of the Robot Chicken Star Wars series. It steeps itself so deeply in Lucas minutia – relying so completely on our innate pop culture knowledge of that galaxy far, far away – that non-fanboys will likely find themselves more baffled than amused. If you understand the phrase “Han Shot First,” however, or know the difference between Tatooine and Dantooine, then the latest Robot Chicken Star Wars special may be the funniest thing you’ve ever seen in your life. Hit the jump for the full review.
This version feels much more unified than the first two Robot Chicken Star Wars specials. It uses the Emperor (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) as a voice-over narrator: flung down that shaft at the end of Return of Jedi and contemplating his life of wickedness as he plummets to his doom. That allows co-creator Seth Green and the gang to riff wildly on every corner of the saga – including fan favorites like Gary the Stormtrooper and a decidedly cracked version Boba Fett – without feeling like a grab bag. MacFarlane makes an outstanding anchor to it all. I confess I’m not a big fan of his other work, but his timing here is exquisite and his love for the franchise shines through even when he’s skewering it alive.
The same principle applies to the special as a whole. Everyone associated with this adores Star Wars, even the really toxic parts like Jar Jar Binks. Yet they combine that love with a truly savage wit, so that their digs still feel genuinely satirical despite their obvious affection. The humor segues into some sick territory, such as a young Boba Fett playing catch with the severed head of his father or a scene involving Gary and an Ewok that has to be seen to be believed. But like so much of Robot Chicken, those moments contain real wit at their core: using the gross-out elements as garnishes rather than the sole reason for existence.
Some of the sketches are better than others, of course, and the worst of them invoke a jarring hostility that stands in contrast to the bulk of the special. Most are flat-out hysterical, however, and while they play mainly to the fanboys, their pratfalls and sly digs might entice a few noobs over to the dark side as well. More importantly, they hold up well to repeat viewings – something very rare in a lot of comedies – and as the Blu-ray’s bonus materials show, Lucas himself clearly finds the entire endeavor very funny.
The third edition Blu-ray contains a bevy of extras, including mock-ups of two dozen cut sketches that prove how deeply this comedy mine runs and some behind-the-scenes stuff at Lucasfilm that sheds light on how the producers got it all done. The convergence of this weirdly wonderful stop-motion parody show and the love-hate relationship most of us have developed for Star Wars is as potent as anything you’ll see. It’s not for everyone, but the intended audience dare not miss it. Puking soda out of your nose never felt so good.