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Film / Mom and Dad Save the World

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"Today Marge Nelson becomes Marge Spengo!
And all across the planet, our hearts will do the tango!"

Mom and Dad Save the World is a 1992 film parody of Flash Gordon which stars Jon Lovitz, Teri Garr, Jeffrey Jones, Eric Idle, Thalmus Rasulala, Kathy Ireland and other actors. Lovitz plays Emperor Tod Spengo, who is the cruel, silly and over-dramatic emperor of the planet named Spengo (which Spengo conquered and renamed after himself). Teri Garr plays Marge Nelson and Jeffrey Jones plays Dick Nelson, her husband.

Emperor Tod Spengo, with General Afir at his side, takes over a small planet at the edge of the galaxy populated entirely by idiots, and renames it after himself. He orders that all the resources of the planet should be engaged to create his "Death Ray Laser". The laser's purpose is to destroy Earth, thus making Spengo the greatest planet in the Universe. When Emperor Spengo looks at exactly where his Laser would strike, he sees Marge Nelson exercising — and falls in love.

Using his Magnobeam (a giant magnet), he kidnaps Marge and her husband Dick as they are on their way to a 20th-anniversary weekend. He hopes to make Marge his before he blows up the Earth. Dick and Marge get separated on Spengo; Marge is sent to the lap of luxury, waited on by small people with fish or dog heads, while Dick is thrown into a dungeon. Can Dick find his way back to Marge? Can the rightful king of Spengo retake his throne? What the hell were Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon smoking when they wrote this?

This movie contains examples of:

  • Advertised Extra: Eric Idle's name is prominent on the poster, but he has two brief scenes, an opening monologue, and six lines in the film proper.
  • Affectionate Parody: It poses the question: what if Emperor Ming was a short, fat, insecure hopeless loser, Flash Gordon was a middle-aged out-of-shape suburbanite Every Man, and the average IQ of the planet Mongo was roughly the same as the average room temperature?
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Tod's immediate plan on seeing Marge is to force her to marry him.
  • Animal Disguise: The resistance movement on the planet Spengo (whose Human Alien inhabitants are all idiots) wear masks whenever they travel to disguise themselves as birds. However, since there aren't any birds that big on their planet (and they still just look like people in bird masks anyway), it's a pretty useless disguise.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: “Hold it Spengo! That's MY wife you've got there, that's MY planet you're trying to blow up and (looking at Afir tied to the Death Ray) that's... just some guy I met. But still, I think this whole thing's gone just a little too far!”
  • Bald of Evil: Tod Spengo, but he spends most of the movie hiding it. It was likely intentional, because he’s constantly changing his hairstyle.
  • Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics: The shots from the Destroyer's guns corkscrew outwards, which probably contributes to their terrible aim.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: The dog-headed aliens and the fish-headed aliens are different genders of the same species (male and female, respectively).
  • Boring Vacation Slideshow: At the end of the film, Marge and Dick manage to create a boring slideshow of their vacation even though the vacation featured them being kidnapped by aliens and taken to another world. They treat the slide with a close-up of Saturn like a picture of the Grand Canyon.
  • Bound and Gagged: Afir, near the end of the film, while also strapped to the giant space laser.
  • Brick Joke: Marge using a flash to take a picture of Saturn worked.
  • The Caligula: Emperor Tod Spengo. If it weren't a comedy, he could be downright frightening.
  • Call-Back: "Open my pants." "He does know father!"
  • Compensating for Something. Tod Spengo, in droves. In fact, he wants to destroy the Earth for certain reasons.
    Tod: The Earth! You think you're so big. So important!
    • Really compensating.
      Tod: Greetings, Marge Nelson. I am Tod the Destroyer, ruler of all you see. Impressed?
      Marge: Oh, yes. You have an absolutely adorable little planet here.
      Tod: (strained laugh) Ah, hah. Oh, so... you think my planet is little?
      Marge: Oh, yes, it's just tiny.
      Tod: (barely contained rage) I'll have you know, Marge Nelson, it's not the size of your planet, it's how you use it!
    • And it goes on.
      Marge: Tod... are you... insecure?
      Tod: (denial laugh) Hah! Me? Insecure? If I were insecure WHY WOULD I SPEAK SO LOUDLY? Hm? How about now, dear Marge? What do you think of me now?!
    • If you look at the plate on the wall which Dick and Marge stand in front of for a picture, it shows a "scale comparison" between the Sears Tower and Spengo's tower.
  • Cute Creature, Creepy Mouth: The Lub-Lubs look like cute smiling mushrooms... which hides the fact that real mouth has nested rows of sharp teeth.
  • Ditto Aliens: Averted with the dog-men and fish-ladies, who possess differing fur/scale tones and patterns within their individual type. Marge is even able to recognize her guard from a fish-lady's family photo she'd seen earlier, and offer marriage counseling to help him get back together with his wife.
  • Double Entendre: Spengo drops these occasionally. Example in Compensating for Something.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Good news: Sympathetic guard. Bad news: No face-concealing helmet, and the borrowed uniform isn't even close to being your size Good news: planet of idiots. Bad news: Afir is no idiot.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: What Spengo plans to do.
  • Egopolis: One of the more extreme examples, as Tod renamed the entire planet after himself. Admittedly a really small planet, but still...
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear: After losing the climactic fight to Dick, the Nelsons send Tod into the sewers where his loud crash-landing disturbs the mushroom creatures from their slumber. As Tod laments his defeat, the mushrooms descend upon him. Though he’s last seen screaming in horror as they close in on him, his actual fate is left ambiguous.
  • Expy: Aside from the Flash Gordon parody, one talking rat looks and behaves suspiciously like Salacious Crumb.
  • Face Palm: One of the Dog Guards during the "mutton chop" scene below.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: The laser weapons are especially jarring since the planet's denizens themselves know and acknowledge that they are all idiots. On the other hand, they're so inaccurate that it's openly acknowledged in-universe that throwing a rock is more dangerous.
  • Fanservice: The entirety of the rebellious people, but especially Kathy Ireland.
  • Flynning: The swordfight between Dick and Tod is mostly just random flailing that gives the impression that neither of them really know what they're doing. Given that Dick may never have drawn a sword in his life before that moment, and Tod is an imbecile with a vastly overblown sense of his own competence, that may very well be the case.
  • Fur Bikini: Worn by the female natives. The men wear loincloths are and mostly bare-chested as well.
  • Gender Equals Breed: It is implied that the bulldog-men and fish-ladies are members of the same species.
  • The Good Chancellor: General Afir is the only one of Spengo's forces who isn't an idiot, and eventually turns on him to help the heroes. It ends up getting him captured.
  • Groin Attack: Marge knees Tod in the groin, but he is unaffected, mostly.
    Tod: (high pitched voice) Thank you!
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Double subversion here.
  • Humans Are Morons: The dog- and fish-people don't seem to be stupid. It could be only the human-like aliens are idiots.
  • Idiot Ball: This covers everyone on Spengo who doesn't die from their own stupidity. In fact, it's explicitly stated that everyone living in the fictional society really is an idiot.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The Destroyers all graduated. The fact that their weapons don't fire in a straight line doesn't help.
  • Killer Rabbit: The Lubb-Lubbs, which resemble cute, smiling mushroom like beings. Their actual mouths are huge and sharklike, filled with nasty pointy teeth and another mouth that is also filled with nasty pointy teeth.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Give them credit - the denizens of Spengo know they're idiots.
    King Raff: Did I mention we were a planet of idiots?
  • Large Ham: Spengo. What else would you expect of Jon Lovitz playing a Ming the Merciless parody?
  • Like a Duck Takes to Water: Just like John Carter of Mars was able to use his comparatively Heavy Worlder physique to become a Martian Warlord, Dick Nelson is able to take the entire planet of Spengo by storm despite being your average suburbanite because he's the only person on the planet besides his wife who is not an idiot.
  • Love at First Sight: Tod falls in love with Marge at first sight and delays his destruction of Earth to marry her.
  • Mental Picture Projector: Tod's Mind-Milking Machine depicts Dick's brain this way, in reference to Flash Gordon.
  • Merciful Minion: The guard tasked with executing Dick breaks down and sets him free out of respect for his love for Marge.
  • Mind Probe: The Mind-Milking Machine. The first thing Tod gets out of Dick's mind: My back. My back is killing me.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: The Lubb-Lubbs' mouths are huge and sharklike, filled with nasty pointy teeth and another mouth that is also filled with nasty pointy teeth.
  • The Napoleon: Tod Spengo is as short and self-important as the planet he named after himself, with a Napoleon-esque hat to accentuate the look.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Dick and Marge are completely unremarkable suburbanites. However, on a planet full of idiots, their common sense becomes a game-breaking weapon.
  • Of Corset Hurts: Tod (of course) wears one, and he gladly trades the discomfort for the somewhat slimming effect.
  • Offing the Annoyance: Emperor Spengo is portrayed as a comedic version of The Caligula, as seen in the "mutton chop" scene in Too Dumb to Live below.
  • Oh, Crap!: Dick does this a lot.
  • Only Sane Man: General Afir is the only one of Spengo's forces who isn't an idiot, and his growing distaste for Spengo's antics makes him turn on him.
  • Ordered to Die: Seen in the Too Dumb to Live example below, the emperor tells his underling(s) to kill themselves, and they of course obey.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • The rebels wear large bird costumes to avoid being spotted, even though there are no birds nearly that large on the planet. Given their opposition, it might have been a pretty effective tactic anyway.
    • Dick wears a comically small uniform. Unfortunately, Afir sees through it, and merely groans in disgust.
  • Pig Latin: It seems it's the natural language of the planet.
    Sirk: Aketay offay irdbay askmay!
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Both really cheesy dresses Marge is forced to wear.
  • Planet of Hats: Almost everyone on the entire planet of Spengo is a flaming idiot, with the exception of General Afir and, to a lesser extent, Spengo himself. King Raff regains his intelligence after being imprisoned "I have reversed the polarity of the Magno-Beam, and will return you to Earth in haste", and General Afir is anything but stupid, though he could be the Only Sane Man.
  • The Power of Love: Any time Dick is overwhelmed and on the verge of giving up, his love for Marge sees him through and helps him to keep going.
  • Right Behind Me: Afir's plan to help Marge is foiled when Spengo appears behind him while he's in the middle of denouncing him.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Of course it does. The natives treat rocks like astonishingly advanced technology. It's justified given how terrible their laser weapons are; a thrown rock is more likely to actually hit the target.
  • Scary Black Man: General Afir, especially when giving his Death Glare.
  • Schmuck Bait: The light grenade, which completely annihilates anyone who picks up an active specimen, and which is labeled "Pick Me Up", manages to take out an entire platoon of soldiers, one by one. The last one is the platoon leader, calling for backup.
    Spengo soldier: The Earth-man has a light grenade for a head!
    • Strangely enough, it isn't the "Pick Me Up" message which gets them to pick it up. Only the man who picks it up before the platoon leader makes the call reads it. The rest (it's implied) seem to fall from a chain of dialogue which causes the next man to pick it up. They're just that stupid.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: The light grenade's effect vaporizes everything but the clothes.
  • Shipper on Deck: Marge convinces Bwah to reconcile with his wife.
  • Skip to the End: Tod gets impatient with how long his wedding is taking, so he has the priest skip a bit. The priest quickly flips over several hundred pages in the book he was holding before continuing with the ceremony.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Dick tells Semage that the plans are in his pants, which is where the King kept them, causing Semage to say, "He does know father!"
  • Strange Salute: Spengo's Destroyers salute with a triple Sieg Heil with alternating hands. It looks absolutely ridiculous.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: Marge offers a dog-guard a granola bar in the course of offering marriage counseling.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Many examples, but aside from the "Light Grenade", this example takes the cake.
    Tod Spengo: Hey you. What do you think - mutton chops or goatee? Be honest.
    Twin Destroyer #1: Mutton chops, my lord?
    Tod Spengo: (considers for a moment) No. No, I like the goatee better. Shoot yourself in the head. (a beat) NOW.
    (Twin Destroyer #1 complies with a blaster to his own head.)
    Tod Spengo: Well? How about you?
    Twin Destroyer #2: (a beat, then brightly) Mutton chops!
    (Tod Spengo glares at him. Twin Destroyer #2 sighs, then shoots himself.)
    Tod Spengo: Planet of idiots. (Tod continues to check himself in the mirror.) You know what? They got a point.
    (Dog Guard Face Palm)
  • Tricked to Death: The light grenade runs on this. It is labeled "Pick Me Up" and disintegrates anyone who does. Since the film takes place on a planet where everyone is an idiot, it destroys an entire squad of mooks, one at a time.
  • Trojan Horse: The giant bust of Tod Spengo. Of course, the rebels nailed it shut so there's no way for anyone to get in... or get out.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife. Sibor (Wallace Shawn) and Semage (Kathy Ireland).
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • Dick and Marge, showing slides after their trip, treat taking a pic of Saturn from their station wagon like they'd passed by the Grand Canyon. Dick thanks Marge for insisting he use the flash.
    • As a whole, treating their entire adventure in space like it was some regular family getaway.
  • Wacky Sound Effect: The sound of a guard shooting himself in the head seems to involve the sound of a rubber duck.
  • Weird Science: An affectionate parody.
  • What the Romans Have Done for Us: Spengo tries to invoke this, but everything he comes up with are projects that serve his own ego and bring no benefit to the people as a whole.
  • Wilhelm Scream: When the Spengo guard is accidentally shot in the fortress docking bay, just before Dick escapes in the large pod.