Saturday, October 15, 2005


The Suck/Blow Machine

At the climax (pun, semi-intended) of Spaceballs, Mel Brooks' 1987 spoof of Star Wars films, he spends a considerable amount of screen time, and, it appears, a fair amount of money to essentially set up one long joke. Here it is: Planet Druidia is under attack from the evil emperor Skroob and his right hand man Dark Helmet. They want Druidia's air. So, they transform one of their Spaceball space stations -- located over Planet Druidia -- into a Mega Maid (a metallic robot that looks like the Statue of Liberty with a maid's outfit and a vacuum cleaner). As a finger flips the Mega Maid switch to on, Operation: Vacu-suck commences and the Maid begins to suck up Druidia's air. (Can you see where this is going?) Brooks cuts to reaction shots of Skroob, Helmet and Col. Sandurz as they, in unison, cheer Mega Maid on: "Suck. Suck. Suck" Eventually, Lone Star (a combo character of Star Wars' Luke Skywalker and Han Solo) and Barf (the movie's Chewbaca) use the power of the Schwartz to reverse Mega Maid's actions. Then comes the pay-off: Skroob turns to Dark Helmet and asks, "What's going on?" Helmet turns to Sandurz and demands to know, "What's going on?" And Sandurz says, "It's Mega Maid. She's gone from suck to blow." (Rimshot, please.)
Well, I hadn't seen the suck/blow machine in a movie again for almost 20 years, until this weekend, when I took my children to see the new G-rated, claymation adventure of the loveable wacky inventor Wallace and his faithful dog Gromit in Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Living in a town obsessed with its annual giant vegetable competition, Wallace and Gromit are now running Anti-Pesto, a security firm that protects the neighborhood's gardens from hungry rabbits. The invention at the center of their operation is the Bun-Vac 6000, a machine that (you got it) "sucks up" pesky rabbits, into a giant jar for safe keeping. Wallace even boasts, "It's capable of 125rpm -- that's rabbits per minute." Better than a half dozen times, the camera makes sure to pan by or zoom in on the machine's control panel where we see notice that in addition to the "Suck" button, there is also a reverse button for "Blow." I appreciated the joke, but wondered two things: 1) Was it necessary at all? I mean, my children are too young to get it, but pre-teens might, and is that a good thing? And, 2) did the buttons need to be shown as often as they were? I (and, I presume, other adults) got the joke the first time or maybe the second, or even the third time. Why hammer it home?
Anyway, that now marks the second time (at least that I know of) the suck/blow machine (not counting Paris Hilton, of course) has appeared in a film. Will there be a third?

It seems to me that Montesano wishes he owned a Suck/Blow Machine so he can suck/blow himself at anytime. As far as Paris Hilton....don't worry, she won't be knocking at your door anytime soon!
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