Tuesday, July 29, 2014

#1,443. The ChubbChubbs! (2002)

Directed By: Eric Armstrong

Starring: Bradford Simonsen, Mortonette Jenkins, Jeff Wolverton

Tag line: "Deciding to be a hero is the easy part..."

Trivia: Won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Animated Short

Winner of the 2003 Academy Award for Best Animated Short, The ChubbChubbs is a sci-fi / comedy that squeezes at least a dozen references to classic science fiction movies into its sparse 6-minute run time.

In the middle of a remote planet lies a night club called the “Ale-E-Inn”. Meeper (voiced by Brad Simonsen) works as the facility’s janitor, but dreams of becoming a featured singer. When he accidentally electrocutes the on-stage performer, Meeper is fired and tossed out of the club, where he encounters an alien (one that looks a lot like Jar-Jar Binks) who warns him the ChubbChubbs are coming. Sure enough, he spots an alien army in the distance, running at top-speed in the direction of the club. Once alerted to the impending danger, the patrons inside the Ale-E-Inn take off for safety, leaving Meeper and a quartet of cute, cuddly creatures to fend for themselves.

Part of the fun of watching The ChubbChubbs is trying to identify the various sci-fi films it pays homage to, whether directly (early in the movie, we see the creature from Ridley Scott’s Alien sitting at the bar, enjoying a drink) or indirectly (as Meeper makes his way through the crowded lounge, we overhear a portion of a conversation, during which someone says “stay so low, Han”). Among the movie characters I recognized (along with those mentioned above) were Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet; Darth Vader and Yoda (who were arm-wrestling at one of the tables) from the Star Wars series; and the robot from The Day the Earth Stood Still (though, admittedly, it took me a few viewings to find him). In addition, when everyone is fleeing the club, there are nods to War of the Worlds (a spaceship looks exactly like the ones used by the Martians in this film) and E.T The Extra Terrestrial (the famous “bike-flying” scene). Its movie references aside, The ChubbChubbs is also an amusing comedy with a little bit of music (Meeper sings his own special rendition of Aretha Franklin’s "Respect") and a twist that will catch you off-guard.

Film fans are sure to enjoy The ChubbChubbs, and will likely return to it numerous times to try and spot all of its cinematic Easter eggs. But even if you aren’t a sci-fi geek, odds are the movie’s innocent humor will, at the very least, bring a smile to your face.

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