Warning: Full spoilers for the Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars special follow. You can read a spoiler-free review here.
Phineas and Ferb found a new hope last night. The Disney cartoon inserted its characters into the events of Episode IV, and their stories ran concurrently with the familiar faces in the film.
Because it’s obligatory for Star Wars parodies, Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars begins with an opening crawl. I was sent into giggles from the start because the crawl cautions that the parody is not canon. You laugh, but there are Star Wars fans who would seriously consider this.
The story opens with Agent P continuing his role as a spy in the Star Wars universe. He’s with the Rebels and helps get the Death Star plans to Princess Leia. Once I realized the characters from Phineas and Ferb weren’t stepping into the shoes of Leia, Luke, and Han, I felt relieved. Too many parodies have already gone that route.
Phineas and Ferb live on Tatooine, but to set them apart from Luke Skywalker, they’re shown as loving the blazing planet. They adore their home so much they could be the planet’s mascots (they could dress as twin suns!). In fact, they’re so happy about a summer on Tatooine that they break into song. I was skeptical. I’m not a huge fan of musicals, but it was funny and catchy and packed with jokes and references to Tatooine icons and creatures. Actually, using this tune and others throughout the special is a smart way to pack in several nods to the source material and make it feel natural. Well, as natural as a song out of nowhere can be.
Candace, Buford, and Baljeet enter the picture as Stormtroopers. Candace is all Empire all the way and wants to track down Rebels, but her and her friends have been tasked with a single mission: to find socks for Lord Vader. It’s silly, but the nonsensical nature of it works. Maybe there are special socks for machine legs.
As Candace and her fellow troopers search Mos Eisley for a department store, plenty of old friends appear in the background: Watto, Boba Fett, a Han Solo reference – you get the idea. Phineas and Ferb are in Mos Eisley as well because they ended up with the Death Star plans and have to get them to Obi-Wan and Luke. They narrowly miss catching them and end up hiring Vanessa who pilots the Centennial Chihuahua. Hey, if Millennium Falcon can be the name of a ship…
Something surprising happens here though. Vanessa has strong anti-Han Solo feelings, and when the Twi’lek singer in the cantina rips into a bridge that repeats the word “solo,” Vanessa shoots her. I know Han shoots Greedo, but I wasn’t expecting sudden violence like that in a cartoon.
As Phineas and Ferb catch up with Episode IV’s heroes, we meet a wannabe Darth. Phineas and Ferb fans will recognize him as Dr. Doofenshmirtz. He’s older, he doesn’t like Darth Vader, and he doesn’t have the highest midichlorian count. Luckily, he’s made the Sithinator to channel the Force into evil. Insert maniacal laugh here. The villain is no Darth Vader, but that’s kind of the point. He’s a fine, bumbling sort of substitute.
Incompetent as he seems, the wannabe Darth ends up zapping Ferb by mistake and turning him into a Sith. He doesn’t show any remorse for his actions and isn’t picky; he’ll take on any and all evil apprentices. The accidental discharge meant he had to refuel the Sithinator, and it brought about my favorite moment of the special. The wannabe Darth goes digging through the trash of the Death Star for items Darth Vader has touched and infused with the Force, and he uses the dianoga to do so. In the process, it accidentally grabs Luke and the bad guy makes the dianoga put Luke back. It cracked me up.
Meanwhile, Phineas is winning Candace over with his earnestness and belief in good. Candace goes from Empire-anthem singing Stormtrooper to questioning why she decided to follow the Imperials in the first place. The scene hints at brainwashing and is relevant to why the Stormtroopers do what they do in the original trilogy. Kids might not pick up on that layer, but it’s a nice addition for adults.
Phineas eventually realizes Ferb has been turned evil. Ferb has the Darth Maul-like appearance and red lightsaber to prove it. While Phineas tries to help his brother, Isabella recovers the Death Star plans and leaves to deliver them to the Rebels on Yavin 4. Her path follows the same as Han Solo’s, and she realizes she’s not only in it for the money.
The part of the plan that doesn’t quite work out is that the Rebels obtain the Death Star plans while Phineas, Ferb, and Candace are still on the Death Star. Phineas rescues his brother, but it’s too late. Or is it? In a move that surprised exactly no one, Isabella returned and saved them. And don’t worry, all the Death Star personnel were rescued too. Whew. Yay for feel good endings!
However, Chewbacca still didn’t get a medal.
What did you think of Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars?