Hot on the success of Even Worse, Al was given the green light to make a movie. It was called UHF and it tested very well with audiences. But then it tanked at the box office (well, it made back the money but little more). Although it has since gained a huge following as a cult movie. It is very weird indeed (and Kramer is in it!) but it’s also very quotable and quite funny. The soundtrack has a few songs and skits from the movie as well as a few extra songs that were not in the movie. And, despite it’s rather middling status as a soundtrack, it features a couple of Al’s best songs.
“Beverly Hillbillies” is a surprisingly effective pastiche of Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” and the theme from the “Beverly Hillbillies.” The fact that Al originally wanted to use a prince song (but was not given permission) shows just how creative he can be to twist it around in a totally different way. Mark Knopfler plays guitar. Another sci-fi original is “Attack of the Radioactive Hamsters from a Planet Near Mars.” It kind of updates “Slime Creatures from Outer Space” which also wasn’t that good. ”Isle Thing” is a parody of Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing” which is about Gilligan’s Island, but from the POV of someone who hasn’t watched the show and whose girlfriend is hooked on it. It’s surprisingly funny It’s interesting that Tone Loc sampled Van Halen, but I believe Al’s band plays the whole thing.
The Medley returns on this album (sorely missed on Even Worse). Strangely, “The Hot Rocks Polka” is a medley of Rolling Stones songs. The theme song “UHF” is a good theme song. It’s funny but more importantly it explains the movie nicely.
The disc also includes snippets from the movie Gandhi II promo. ”Let Me Be Your Hog” is a 17 second clip from a show in the movie. There’s also the awesome commercial for Spatula City. And “Fun Zone” is a 2 minute instrumental that is the theme to Stanley Spadowski’s Clubhouse.
“She Drives Like Crazy” is a parody of Fine Young Cannibals (the fact that Al can hit Roland Gift’s notes is quite impressive) although the song is merely okay. ”Generic Blues” is just that–an over the top version of any blues song you’ve heard. Those few low points are more than made up for by these closing high points. ”Spam” is a great parody of R.E.M’s “Stand.” It works as both parody and as its own lyrical theme. ”The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota” is the first of Al’s epic songs (this one clocks in at almost 7 minutes). It’s a story song told in the spirit of Harry Chapin’s 30,000 Pounds of Bananas.” It’s one of my favorite early Al songs. It’s fun and silly but it never loses focus. And the thought of the family loving the biggest ball of twine is just too funny. And who knew there were so many things that rhymed with Minnesota?
But the tanking of UHF meant that Al had to regroup. And as he waited for the next Michael Jackson song to parody, a little thing called grunge happened.
[READ: February 22, 2013] Captain Underpants and the Terrifying reTurn of Tippy Tinkletrousers
Pilkey had been away from writing for several years with family emergencies. So it has been six years since the previous Captain Underpants book–that’s a long time for most readers who may now feel too old for the books, although no doubt many new readers to the series (like me!) have sprung up in the meantime.
So, what does Pilkey do for his return? He produces a 300 page epic! One that brings back a bad guys from past books (as was promised in the last book), one that features a lot of mind bending time travel and, ultimately, one which focuses mostly on George and Harold as kindergarteners (five years before the usual present in his books). And it is an amazing book, one that really shows how creative the boys are and one which deals with bullying–a subject that has never really been present in these books (except from the teachers). Pilkey really created a great book (the other books were great too, but they were more slight. This one is packed with goodness). And I have to assume he aimed the books for slightly older audiences.
The book opens with the usual history of Captain Underpants by George and Harold, although given the six year absence, this one recaps everything that has gone before. It also explains how in the last book, George and Harold were getting in trouble because of their evil twins from another dimension when Professor Poopypants (now named Tippy Tinkletrousers) showed up in his mechanical pants shooting ice rays at everyone.
Then Pilkey breaks the story and the animation style to introduce the banana cream pie paradox (in a very formal computer generated style of picture which really sets it apart). In a nutshell–a man makes a banana cream pie. He goes back in time and the tree that he got the bananas from is killed–so how can he have made the pie? (His version is much funnier). But the point is, be really really REALLY careful when you time travel.
The book continues with The REAL ending to the last adventure. Which is that George and Harold went to juvenile detention (which was so much like school, they didn’t mind) and Mr Krupp went to jail (which he did mind). In Krupp’s prison was Tippy Tinkletrousers who was making a statue for Warden Gorden B Schmorden. Of course, it is soon revealed to not be a statue but a mechanical body with a freeze ray. He climbs in, but then he sees Krupp. He thinks he looks familiar, so he grabs the Principal and stomps off in search of Captain Underpants. Krupp says George and Harold would know where he is so they stomp off to Juvie (I love that there’s a no child left behind poster there) where Director Hector Schmector is happy to get rid of the troublemakers.
Seeing the trouble they are in, the kids snap their fingers, Krupp turns into Captain Underpants and runs off for a cape. Tippy of course gives a slap to his own head when he realizes that he had Captain Underpants in his hands all that time. The Captain returns and a fight ensues in which Tippy’s pants are frozen to the ground. He can’t escape so he uses the time travelling button in the pants to go back in time by five years.
There we see kindergartener Harold, bored and sad because he has no friends. He draws really well but that doesn’t endear him to anyone (I love that with just a few lines, Pikley manages to convey that the George is indeed five years younger even though he doesn’t look that different). Harold is constantly bullied by Kipper Krupp (who is the Principal’s nephew) and his three henchman. Kipper managed to convince his uncle that the other kids are always being mean to him so he never gets in trouble for anything.
Then we meet George (who has an afro!). George is super smart. He could be in third grade but his parents want him to socialize with kindergartens. He is a happy kid (even though his parents make him wear a tie) and he skateboards to school. On his way to school he sees the bullies picking on Harold. Harold is hiding at a gas station but the attendant doesn’t even stop to help poor Harold. So George changes the gas station sign to read Free Bra Inspection. And plenty of irate women come over and give him what for. Then (in Flip-O-Rama) George uses that dreaded tie to give the bullies what for. Harold and George get detention for hurting Kipper and it’s in detention that they make their first comic book (The Adventures of Dog-Man).
The boys feel good for having beaten Kipper but Kipper is still bullying little kids so they exact a complex plan of revenge, which involves stealing Kipper’s lock and humiliating him with his cell phone. It also involves creating a new person, Wedgie McGee, who is a ghost and creating a whole new comic book about him. The elaborate prank involves stilts with pants and shoes (so they can hide them in a stall and it looks like someone is in the bathroom).
The plan works but it also makes Kipper angrier. The boys imagine using the pants and stilts for the rest of the plan, but George’s afro sticks up too high. So, Harold gives him a flattop! The elaborateness of the final prank is really amazing–I was very impressed at how well thought out it was. And just as George and Harold’s plan is coming to the end, Tippy Tinkletrousers appears out of the sky, un-doing the real ending and introducing the brand new but not supposed to be ending in which Professor Krupp was fired (which sounds awesome but which means that there was never a Captain Underpants–because if Krupp isn’t around, the kids can’t hypnotize him).
So when Tippy appears for the first time to enact revenge of Captain Underpants, well, there is no Captain Underpants. Which also means that all of the times the Captain saved the day in previous books didn’t happen. And so the Earth is not such a nice place anymore and indeed, the horrible giant zombie nerds are now menacing everything. And that’s the end, with Pilkey saying there will be no more Captain Underpants adventures…
except for the next one. Which claims to be the final epic novel due out in January 2013. Hey that was two months ago. That means it’s out now!