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Recap / The Simpsons S 15 E 18 Catch Em If You Can

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Fed up with going on family trips, Homer and Marge decide to ditch Uncle Tyrone's (Abe's brother) birthday party and have some fun on the run (with Flanders' credit card), but soon must contend with Bart and Lisa, who are in hot pursuit (with Rod Flanders' credit card).

Tropes featured:

  • Art Shift: As Homer and Marge run into the Atlantis City Airport, the scene transforms into a parody of Catch Me If You Can's Animated Credits Opening, complete with a similar animation style.
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  • Artistic License – Economics: Homer and Bart steal the credit cards of Ned and Rod Flanders, respectively. Not only are their credit card numbers the exact same, but they're also shown to have "Valid From 1/1" and "Good Thru 12/31" dates, which are the first and last days of the year. Credits cards only have a single expiration date, which indicates the month and year it expires at the end of (such as "06/30" meaning that your card expires in June 2030).
  • Artistic Licence – Law: How exactly can an eight-year-old, Rod Flanders, get a credit card?
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption: While the Simpsons watch Love Story, Bart, bored, brings up the picture-in-picture during the film's Signature Line.
    Oliver: Love means never having to say—
    Krusty: (talking over the movie) —a whole canoe made of baloney?! (laughs his Signature Laugh)
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  • Big "NEVER!": Homer yells this when Lisa asks them to let them explain the Not What It Looks Like situation.
  • Big "NO!": From Homer, when Bart arranges for him to get a low-fat meal on the flight to Atlantic City.
  • Brick Joke: At the end of the episode's second act, we learn that Homer and Bart are respectively using Ned's and Rod's credit cards. At the very end of the episode, they get credit card bills that are "a little chunky" (read: they are as thick as a phone book when folded and cause them to faint when they read them).
  • Child Hater:
    • Marge becomes one in this episode and doesn't give a second thought on being a Jerkass to a couple in Miami who want kids.
    • Otto as well, as he throws both Bart and Lisa out of his bus once he sees them fighting.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • At Uncle Tyrone's birthday some of Homer's relatives at the party are the same ones from "Lisa the Simpson" (the collection of unsuccessful male relatives, and one of the few women who actually have successful careers).
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    • While jumping on a trampoline, Homer says "This must be what it's like in space." Marge then points out that he's been in space, referring to the events in "Deep Space Homer".
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • Bart and Lisa wouldn't have suspected Homer and Marge had sneaked away if they hadn't seen a news report of a tornado destroying the hotel they were supposed to be staying at.
    • For that matter, the fact that if Homer and Marge hadn't decided to be spontaneous, the tornado would've killed them.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Bart and Lisa follow Homer and Marge all the way around America and ruin their attempt at having a couple's vacation because they went to Miami without them.
    • Apparently, trying to get into the Gold Medallion Club without the proper membership merits being shot.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: Homer and Marge have sex inside the bouncing castle after falling down Niagara Falls and not dying... actually, more like their second round: they had sex as they were falling.
  • Heel Realization: After finally catching up to Homer and Marge, the kids realize that they haven't been fair spoiling their parents' fun and the two really do deserve some time to themselves.
  • Hope Spot: When the tornado demolishes the Dayton Arms Hotel, Bart says that Homer and Marge could be in the basement... only for the tornado to come back and smash its way through the hotel's foundation before moving on. Subverted that Homer and Marge were in Miami instead of Ohio.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: "Why do they call this place Niagara Falls, anyway?"
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: Marge's original plan of going to Dayton, Ohio was viewed by the kids as this.
  • Jerkass Ball: The ball pretty much passes back and forth between all four of the Simpsons with Homer and Marge deciding at the last minute to switch their flight without even giving their kids a phone call as well as happily announcing to the plane that they're ditching them while Bart and Lisa pursue their parents at first to confront them for their lies but devolve into taunting that they don't get to have fun because they're parents and once more get ditched. Only Abe and Maggie don't have the ball with the former abandoned in Miami and the latter doesn't even show up.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Homer points out that they only have one weekend to themselves without the kids and they should be able to enjoy it.
    • Bart and Lisa trying to catch up to the two as Marge and Homer's decision to ditch them was based on nothing more than selfishness and laziness on their part. Bart was even willing to stay in the already booked hotel when they ditched them the second time.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The US and Canadian coast guards end up fighting with one another over who will save Homer and Marge.
  • Kick the Dog: Homer and Marge mock a newlywed couple because of their desire to have children.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Bart and Lisa are determined to catch Homer and Marge just because they dared to get away from them. They even tell them happily that as parents they don't get to have fun.
  • Left Hanging: Abe Simpson inexplicably disappears from the rest of the episode after being left behind in Miami. We don't find out what happened after the gentleman Raúl took him in at his penthouse.
  • No Endor Holocaust: While it's clear Homer and Marge didn't get killed in the tornado due to not being at that hotel, it's left unclear how many people were killed there, especially given that Homer and Marge may not have been the only Simpsons staying there on that night.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: The tornado that goes through Dayton, Ohio. First it smashed through the Dayton Arms Hotel, then it came back and leveled the rubble... and just as Bart brings up the possibility that his parents survived in the basement, it came back again and drilled through the hotel's foundation into the basement before finally leaving.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Bart and Lisa go a carnival to give Homer and Marge some time to themselves, unaware that the two of them had sneaked away. As such, they encounter each other on a Ferris Wheel and Homer and Marge believe that Bart and Lisa followed them, refusing to let the two explain.
  • Now or Never Kiss: Once it looks like they are going to fall down Niagara Falls and die, Marge and Homer start to make out... and they had sex... as the bouncing castle fell.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Marge, normally a Mama Bear on her best days and My Beloved Smother on her worst, doesn't care about the kids here. Granted, the episode goes out of its way to show that Bart and Lisa have been much brattier than usual most notably preventing the two from ever being intimate with each other, and Homer does have to coax her into taking the vacation with him.
  • Series Continuity Error: Homer and Marge go on vacation to Miami in the episode, despite the family being banned from Florida (among other states except for North Dakota and Arizona) in "Kill the Alligator and Run" (although this wasn't the first episode to forget this and won't be the last).
  • Serendipitous Survival: Homer and Marge ditch an out-of-town family visit at the last second to take a vacation elsewhere without telling their kids. The hotel they were supposed to be staying at gets completely destroyed by a tornado. Marge calls the kids, who are relieved that she's alive, but immediately catch on when she still claims to be staying at the hotel (which they saw get destroyed live on national T.V.)
  • Shockingly Expensive Bill: The final gag of the episode is both Ned and Rod Flanders getting this, courtesy of the Simpsons' expenses during their vacation-slash-chase.
  • Shout-Out: The title is a play on to the film title, Catch Me If You Can; there's even a musical montage and the scene that plays homage to the scene.
  • Take That!: Lisa's criticism of the acting in Love Story.
    "...She's wooden and unpleasant, and, no matter what he does, he's still Ryan O'Neal."
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Bart and Lisa are incredibly bratty in this episode which is what drives their parents to ditch them in the first place. It doesn't help that after they catch them in Miami, they taunt them about how they'll never have alone time which leads them to getting ditched again.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • What about Abe Simpson after his encounter with Raoul?
    • For that matter, where was Maggie throughout all this?
  • Would Hurt a Child: A security guard is willing to shoot Lisa just because she entered the Gold Medallion Club without membership.