We've all seen them. Whether it is lurking in the comedy section of the video store or on the shelf at Wal-Mart, the thumb parodies seem to be everywhere. This is one of those titles that will get your attention, but usually not your money. With "The Naked Gun", "Spaceballs", and "Scary Movie", is there really a need for more spoof movies? Steve Oedekerk thinks so, and he challenges everyone to a "Thumb War" on the UMD format.
We begin with a family of thumbs going to see a double feature at the theater. They provide some laughs as the daughter cannot wait to see "Thumbtanic" and the son is itching for "Thumb Wars". Opting for love before action, the bill is showing "Thumbtanic" first. It had to be pretty hard to condense a three hour love story into a thirty minute parody. This is a basically a highlight reel that makes fun of the movie. Jake courting Geranium is almost a background story since most of the laughs come from the crew's horrid preparation for potential disaster. For the record, "My Thumb Will Go On" was about as painful to listen to as any Celine Dion wannabe at a Karaoke bar on Friday night. The parody was decent, but I was certainly ready for "Thumb Wars" to begin.
This was much more enjoyable for me. It may be that I am a bigger "Star Wars" fan, but I felt "Thumb Wars" had more room for humor. This could have easily been a parody stuck in the shadow of "Spaceballs", but the thumb angle opens up new gags that gave the short its own identity. The lightsaber battle is unique and I loved the "Death Star". My favorite part is any scene with Crunchy (Chewbacca). He is the scariest thumb character of all time. I probably laughed the harder at his looks and expressions than any scene without The Puppet in it. Even some of the famous George Lucas scene changes are used as there are wipes and slides throughout the story. The famed Darth Vader revelation in "The Empire Strikes Back" may get a run for its money towards the end of "Thumb Wars"
Steve Oedekerk is certainly a man who knows how to multitask. He is linked to many projects that can give those curious about the "Thumb" titles an idea of his style of humor. Most notable for his portrayal of The Chosen One in "Kung Pow: Enter the Fist", Oedekerk was also a director/writer for "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls" and "Nothing To Lose". In addition, he wrote and produced "Bruce Almighty" and "Patch Adams". Working with characters like Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, and Martin Lawrence, there is little question about the different styles of humor in the thumb parodies. There are a multitude of jokes, sight gags, expressions, and insults that keep the short stories moving along. I found both stories humorous, but I certainly wasn't blown away by them.
Presented in 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio, there will be black bar on the left and right side of the screen. Shot on video, I thought the low budget shorts wouldn't be up to par on UMD. The look is flawless. The special effects and live action look good, colors are nice, and the image is spotless.
There is not much to talk about in regards to sound. The sound effects are decent and the dialogue is crisp. There is nothing spectacular about the sound, but the i-Sound amplified speakers did add some depth to the soundstage. The faceplate speakers, while effective for this title, did provide a softer sound that may be frustrating at times.
There are a couple of trailers that provide some extra features. "The Blair Thumb" trailer is shown between the two features and seems like it has some decent parody potential. A separate trailer also shows up in the extra features menu. At the main menu, there is an option to see the trailers for "Frankenthumb", "Thumb Wars: The Phantom Cuticle", "Bat Thumb", "The Godthumb", and "Thumbtanica". Both are presented in the same full frame format as they were shot. There is also a featurette which allows the 'actors' to give insight to their work in "Thumbtanica" and explain what upcoming projects they have. Gabba the Butt gets his own camera time as well, which is a pretty funny "Thumberpiece Theater" moment
"Thumb Wars" and "Thumbtanic" are tough to recommend. The humor is a bit corny for my tastes, but I did find some laughs throughout the 56 minute runtime. I think it will appeal to a younger audience and those who found "Kung Pow: Enter The Fist" a cinematic revelation. As a rental, this is a UMD worth watching. I don't think the replay value will be strong enough to merit a purchase from most PSP owners.