12/6/06

111 Moon Zero Two

(1969, SciFi/Western, color)

We’re all foreigners on the moon.

Rating: ***1/2

In a nutshell:

A maverick moon pilot foils the murderous plots of a greedy millionaire.

Summary:

Lenin, if he dressed like Lennon.An American astronaut lands his space capsule on the moon and plants his flag. At the very same time, a Russian astronaut lands on the exact opposite side of the moon and plants his flag. They run around the moon in circles, just missing each other, throwing each other’s flags down, until they finally meet and begin to duel with their flags to a peppy dance beat. This takes so long that a city grows up beside them. Finishing their fight, the exhausted astronauts explore the moon city and, after a series of
comic misadventures, are picked up by a street sweeper and thrown into a garbage heap. And that’s just the animated opening credits.

Moon Zero Two actually opens with Captain William Kemp recovering a damaged air conditioner-ish satellite from orbit with his faux-accented engineer. When they land in the moon city, we get introduced to all of the main characters, which include a millionaire villain who looks like Lenin if he dressed like Lennon, his British thugs, the hot gun-toting sheriff in a purple alligator-skin skullcap, and a skinny girl dressed like Gumby. Gator-head warns Kemp about some shenanigans or other, and then flirts shamelessly with him. Gumby-girl wanders into the bathroom while he’s naked, asks about her moon-miner brother, and then flirts shamelessly with him. Later, he explains the faux science behind the moon city to her at the handy museum of exposition.

At the western-style saloon, one of the thugs pulls a gun and forces Kemp to go and see the millionaire. Turns out he wants to hire Kemp to crash a giant sapphire from an asteroid belt into the moon so that they can collect all the gemstone. Though this is highly illegal, Kemp agrees, and soon he’s out floating through space with thugs in pastel Stormtrooper suits to awful sixties music. After phase one is complete, they go back to the moon and get threatened again by Gator-head. Gumby girl asks him to take her out to her brother’s moon-mining claim, which is about to expire and get handed off to someone else. He agrees and gets in a fight with the British thugs, turning off the city’s gravity in the process for no apparent reason.

They fly down to the nearest base and have to drive the rest of the way in an odd vehicle that looks like a giant Tylenol with wheels. When they get there, they find her brother has been murdered, and the claim jumpers still guarding him. After a little gunplay, they kill the claim jumpers and head back in a different vehicle (their own got trashed), which looks like a giant Tylenol with wheels and a bulldozer shovel on the front. The air conditioning is broken, I guess, so they have to take off their clothes, and we learn that in the future, bras and panties are connected by a thin strip of fabric down the front. They put their clothes back on and jump out when they’re almost back to the base, and then their vehicle explodes for some reason.

The millionare turns up to gloat. He was behind it all the whole time, you see. He had the moon-miner brother killed so that he could grab the claim when it expired and land the asteroid on it. The thugs shoot Gator-head when she arrives; she gets a poignant death scene. The thugs then threaten Gumby girl to make Kemp finish bringing their sapphire asteroid down. This all leads to a big gunfight in space where they melt one thug’s head off, shoot another, and then send the millionaire and his last thug hurtling back to the moon on the asteroid. There’s some neat little legal tripe about Gumby girl inheriting her brother’s claim and keeping all of the sapphire, and then the movie ends with perhaps the clumsiest attempt at a suggestive pickup line I have ever heard.

Introduction:

Zero G makes everything better.Joel explains the premise of the show in his trademark, sleepy-sounding way.

Host Segment One:

Joel invents a food teleporter that transfers food from your hand to your mouth. He demonstrates with a fake cookie and lots of milk. The Mads demonstrate celebrity toothpaste: pez-like toothpaste dispensers that vomit toothpaste onto your brush. Quoth Joel, “Four out of five dentists recommend psychotherapy for you guys.”

Host Segment Two:

Joel and the ‘Bots put on a “History of Man on the Moon” pageant, pompously narrated by Tom, with Joel and Crow in all of the other roles.

Host Segment Three:

Inspired by the game of Moonopoly, which the sleazy millionaire was playing with his bimbos in the film (Moonopoly, get it? MOON-opoly. Get it? Get it?), Joel and the ‘Bots think up more board games of the future. Quoth Joel, “Sorry will still be the hardest game.” Then he pulls out his remote controls and forces the ‘Bots to fight, re-enacting the classic game, Rock-em Sock-em Robots.

Host Segment Four:

Crow and Tom argue over which girl is better, Gator-head or Gumby girl. When they get violent, Joel turns off the gravity and adds an awful soundtrack.

Host Segment Five:

In exchange for a RAM chip, the ‘Bots have to say a good thing and a bad thing about the movie. Crow says, “it was groovy” for both, but does not get a RAM chip. Gypsy says, “Richard Basehart” and does get a RAM chip.

Thoughts:

She was once a little green slab of clay.The host segments were great in this one, except for the “History of Man on the Moon” pageant, which I think was supposed to be boring, and succeeded. The low gravity fight scene still cracks me up. The food teleporter was a neat idea, though the amount of milk Joel was supposed to have consumed was probably enough to feed me and my entire family for more than a week.

When asked about his engineer’s indeterminate accent, Kemp says “We’re all foreigners on the moon,” a line the writers liked so much they snuck it in three times. Sounds deep, but it’s probably just a little device to explain why none of these Yankee actors can do a believable dialect to save their lives. Except for the thugs, who were probably played by Genuine British People(tm).

The movie’s set on the moon, but it's a Western at heart, complete with swinging saloon doors and feathery dancing girls. There are a lot of six-shooters, too, though you can’t fire them in the city. (I guess the walls, though capable of holding in the immense air pressure required for human survival, are not bullet proof.) On the other hand, you can fire them outside in the vacuum of space (despite the lack of combustible oxygen) and still get a bang and a nifty muzzle flash.

Beyond that, it’s really not that bad of a movie. It’s certainly not a good movie, not by any means, but it moves well, obeys most of its own rules, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is never dull. Even the slowest of space walk scenes are jazzed up by a relentlessly perky (and invariably horrible) 60’s soundtrack. At one point Joel gets up from his seat and dances along while, in another scene, Tom observes, “it’s like a bad music festival.” We also get treated Crow’s rendition of the “Wiener Man” song, referring to the oddly shaped moon buggies that Kemp and Gumby girl drive around in. Despite the bad music (or perhaps because of it) the action never slows down and Joel and the ‘Bots keep up. This is one of my two favorite episodes of Season One.