Film: J-Men Forever
The Firesign Theatre's most successful production beyond its audio work was this Gag Dub homage to the Republic Film Serials of the 1930-50s. The villainous Lightning Bug schemes to conquer the Earth with Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll, and only the J-Men — a dedicated team of tight-assed straights...err, straight-jawed men-in-tights — can stop him!
This movie contains the following tropes:
- Brainwashed: The Lightning Bug attempts to brainwash the people of Earth with transistor radios and rock & roll broadcasts, but is successfully countered by schmaltzy music from the Military Underground Sugared Airwaves Command (M.U.S.A.C.). He then resorts to hashish gas.
- Canis Latinicus: The motto of the J-Men is U Cannabis Smokem.
- Cliffhanger Copout: Lampshaded at the end, when a montage reveals that all the J-Men apparently killed during the movie escaped from their predicaments.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Spy Swatter is being tortured by Those Wacky Nazis.Evil Nazi: "Welcome to the Hot Hitler Disco, where the beat never Gestopos. If we can't spring some info from you, we'll make you listen to Donna Summer all winter, until you fall."Spy Swatter: "Anything but that, fiend!"
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Agent Burns indignantly refuses a bribe."I'm going to have you wrapped in the U.S flag and burned personally by the President, in high-octane American gasoline!"
- Disastrous Demonstration: Admiral Ballzy accidentally destroys a skyscraper while demonstrating the deadly effects of rock & roll music.
- Disconnected by Death: Happens twice.(An informer is making a secret call to J-Men headquarters when the Lightning Bug bursts in on him)The Bug: "Ah-HAH! Making personal calls on MY line!"(The Bug zaps him with his ray-pistol. On the other end of the line, smoke pours from the phone held by the Chief)The Chief: "Hello? Operator? Listen, we were cut off in the midst of a hot tip. I want to make sure we weren't charged for that call."
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Dildonator.
- Dragon Lady: The villainess Sombra.
- Evil Laugh: Machine Gun Kelly does this with gusto.
- Explosive OverclockingThe Bug: "Turn it up! More juice, Bruce!"Mook: "But you're mad — the Moon is being destroyed!"The Bug: "You don't know good music when you hear it!"The Bug: "That's what I call getting stoned!"
- Fun with Acronyms: The rock & roll invasion is fought by the combined forces of the F.C.C. (Federal Culture Control), KRAP Radio, and M.U.S.A.C. (Military Underground Sugared Airwaves Command). Meanwhile wimpy security guard Billy Batchit becomes 'The Caped Madman' by uttering the magic word "SH-BOOM!", enabling him to take on all the vices of a J-Man of the Secret Service: S for Sneaky, H for Hateful, B for Bigotted, O for Obnoxious, another O for Double-Obnoxious, and M for Mean!
- Film Serial: Clips from Undersea Kingdom (1936), S.O.S. Coast Guard (1937), The Fighting Devil Dogs (1938), The Mysterious Doctor Satan (1940), The Adventures Of Captain Marvel (1941), Spy Smasher (1942), Secret Service in Darkest Africa (1943), Captain America (1944), The Purple Monster Strikes (1945), The Crimson Ghost (1946), Radar Men from the Moon (1952), and Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952).
- Gesundheit: InvertedJ-Man: What do you know about this?(Analyst gives substance the sniff test, then sneezes)Analyst: Ha-a-a-hashish!J-Man: Hashish oil, eh?
- Groin AttackLone Star: (singing) "I'm a super copper on a super chopper! There's no job too dangerous or small for me! I'm the pro-tec-torrr..." (leaps a canyon on his motorcycle and lands hard on the other side) "Uuuugh!!! Owww I forgot my protector..."
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: The Caped Madman.Caped Madman: "Dirty towelheads!"Arab troops: "Wait, we're on your side! We're with the U.N!"Caped Madman: "U.N., hey? I'll show your what we think of you One Worlders!" (machine-guns them In the Back)
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Everyone makes these.
- Jet Pack: Rocket Jock mutters constantly about the problems of using an atomic-powered jetpack — such as the worry that his tailor has forgotten the lead-lining, the need to hit his springboard in order to launch himself into the air, sore arches whenever he lands, his shoes getting set on fire, and the risk of drowning inside his full-face helmet should he get airsick.
- Just a Stupid Accent: Any foreigner in the movie.
- Killer Robot/Tin-Can Robot: R2ScrewURocket Jock: "Uh-oh, an enraged water heater!"
- Large Ham Radio: Justified as it's Machine Gun Kelly. He orders a number of underlings trained as DJ's too."Take them away and teach them to talk like me: reeallll sexy!"
- Loud of War: Taken Up to Eleven where the evil Lightning Bug's rock and roll runs cars off the road, destroys buildings and eventually the Moon after he cranks up his stereo too loud.
- Master of Disguise: Used to explain why the Lightning Bug looks like half a dozen completely different villains.
- Mr. Exposition: In order to frame the rather incoherent story, creators Philip Proctor and Peter Bergman play the Chief of the J-Men and his bumbling sidekick Agent Barton. The scenes are Deliberately Monochrome to match the rest of the footage.
- The Men in Black: The J-Men, though they appear not to know it.Barton: "That kook said something about aliens being behind the whole thing."The Chief: "Aliens? Suuure. Listen, Mexicans and Canadians are always a problem. Next thing you know they're going to be blaming it on little guys in shiny suits from Outer Space!"
- Moral Dissonance: Lampshaded constantly."ARRGH! You sadistic bastard, you crushed my skull!"..."Moonbase has been destroyed, taking the Lightning Bug and all his henchman with it, and New York City has been wiped off the face of the Earth. A double victory!"..."The air assault against the dope fiends will be led by our flying ace in the hole; yes, we're putting our Duke up! He knows how to handle any John or Jane who's driving around with a roach in their roadster. And our rock & roll attacks will be co-ordinated by our new Commissioner of Culture — Puke Earwax! He knows the Bug's pirate radio station can be hidden in the innocent looking farmhouse, the suspiciously innocuous orphanage, the inconspicuous summerhouse. And as a last resort we'll defoliate every forest and park, incinerate every private garden, balcony and window box, to ensure that this marijuana menace will never take root here again!"
- The Power of Rock: Rock broadcasts from the Lightning Bug's moonbase are powerful enough to cause cars to crash, buildings to collapse, and record moguls to commit suicide. Finally the moon itself is destroyed when the Lightning Bug cranks up his hi-fi too loud.
- Red Alert"THIS IS THE MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY. WE ARE UNDER ATTACK BY HIDEOUS WAVES OF ROCK MUSIC FROM THE MOON! ALL RESIDENTS ARE REQUESTED TO FLEE MINDLESSLY, WHILE MEMBERS OF THE POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENTS WILL ASSEMBLE IN THEIR UNION HALLS FOR CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS! THIS IS A RECORDING."
- Rhymes on a Dime: The Lightning Bug and various other characters.
- Superheroes: Colonel Kink, aka Rocket Jock (Commando Cody/Larry Martin, aka the Rocketman), Spy Swatter (Spy Smasher), the Caped Madman (Captain Marvel) and the Lone Star (Captain America).
- Sex, Drugs and Rock & RollJuicy Winters: "This kind of music could get me pregnant."
- Spinning Paper: The Herald Exaggerator.
- Stock Footage: The oft-used scene from the 1933 Italian movie Deluge — where New York City gets swamped by a tidal wave — makes one more appearance.
- Stoner Flick: Yes, the Bug's into drugs! After his rock & roll invasion fails, the Lightning Bug decides to import hash oil to corrupt America, eventually launching a huge hash missile at
LostLos Angeles. Fortunately Rocket Jock disregards his personal feelings about the city and destroys the missile, getting a faceful of hash smoke in the process.Rocket Jock: "Makes me feel like I'm flyyyyiiiiiiiing!!!"
- Take That: Plenty of jabs at popular targets of The Seventies; e.g., the FBI, the Pentagon, and the Vietnam War. Plus Los Angeles and New York City.
- Toasted Buns: Cody complains that his feet are on fire, along with the many other problems of using an atomic-powered jetpack.