Clone High Episode 4 ‘Film Fest: Tears of a Clone’
Written by Erica Rivinoja
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For all of its wacky animation and pop culture references, Clone High is a very thought-out show, one which uses every single line of dialogue and inch of screen to maximum effect. A perfect example of this is ‘Film Fast’, which – like last week’s magnificent episode – manages to cram in a half-dozen different parodies in both obvious and subtle fashions, without ever losing sight of its overarching story and goals for the famous teenage clones.
But those fragments of story bookend the episode, which revolves around a film festival at Clone High, started to curb the violent rioting that began taking place after JFK won the cross country championships – though its fair to assume the N’SYNC concert that was moved to the nurse’s office might’ve helped stir the shit a little bit. Anyway, the clones go bat shit insane, tearing up the campus and everything around it to celebrate their meaningless sports accomplishment. For anyone who’s seen how Americans celebrate championships, watching Genghis Khan light pools on fire and Ghandi chewing on mufflers probably hits closer to home than you’d might imagine.
So Abe Lincoln thinks the solution is starting film festival, so the angsty clones don’t have to keep their bottled up emotions inside. The rest of the episode interlopes the creation of these different films, all of which directly play into the different personalities of the main cast. There’s nothing like over-analyzing student films, so I’ve decided to attack them all one by one, bullet style:
- Cleo’s “The Best of the Best of the Best of the Best of the Best” is the one finished film we don’t get to see clips of, since it’s later destroyed in Thomas Edison’s coal-powered projection fire. But it’s safe to say the Ang Lee-directed (“you are not my son!!!”) epic detailing the difficulties of being Cleo would’ve brought down the house – although it does reveal something interesting about Cleo: the tear that slips from her eye while she films a scene reminds us that she’s popular and cool, but definitely not always happy.
- there isn’t a whole lot going on with JFK, whose film “Casting Couch” (named after an 1980s porno) is just him banging girls on the editing room sofa (even while Joan is trying to edit her experimental masterpiece). There really isn’t much of JFK in this episode, but one of the funniest lines of the series comes out of his mouth in ‘Film Fest’ (and while he’s off-screen): “Could you keep it down? Some of us are trying to nail Catherine the Great here… or should I say, Catherine the So-So.”
- “It Takes A Hero”, Abe’s film, might be the most obtuse of all the films shown (even though he insists on his skills of symbolism), telling the story of a goofy giraffe (whose slim features obviously parallel Abe’s) who kicks the winning field goal and gets a profession of love from a clearly underage girl. For Abe, his goals in high school are two-fold: become a hero and leader like his clone father, and hear someone tell him the words “I love you.” Really the only unfunny film, relying on a tired parody of endings to sport films that doesn’t feel very well constructed.
- don’t forget Mother Theresa’s teen slasher film/sex romp.
- Ghandi’s action picture “Black and Tan” almost doesn’t happen, thanks to the moral standings of George Washington Carver – even after Ghandi offers the anthropomorphic peanut a role as Senor Pene. In Ghandi’s eyes, an action-packed buddy cop film is probably the most mainstream idea he can think of (thereby gaining himself the most friends and fans in the process). Carver of course, just wants to tell high-class food jokes and avoid stereotypes – although in the end, he’s definitely still open for a sequel (Black and Tan Forever?)
I saved the best for last, because Joan’s film is not only the center of the plot, but really focuses on Joan’s internal struggles (and parallels) to her own life. For the average cartoon watcher, much of “The Truth Wears Sideburns” is an incomprehensible pile of random images lacking any sort of subtlety, but the sheer amount of character detail placed into the film puts it high above the other films we see at the festival. Play the movie in slow motion and the random collection of images becomes abundantly coherent: Joan is in love with Abe, and knowing how Joan of Arc was burned to death, is afraid of dying an unloved virgin (like Joan) whose life ends before her love begins. Nobody really understands the film (even Genghis, who stars as Gabe Licone), but for Joan, that’s just as well – she’s not ready to say the words out loud that she loves Abe just yet (she can only ‘whisper, whisper’).
In the end, the film festival ends up causing another campus-burning riot when Abe excites everyone into a state of insanity (another example of how he’s still struggling to lead). But like the cross country event that led to the beginning of the film festival, the collection of student movies was really a vehicle to instill some hope in Joan. After all, Abe doesn’t tell her who that little girl is in the film, which leads us to wonder: is it supposed to represent the childish mind of Cleo, or the childish emotions of Joan? We really don’t know, but there are suggestions that Abe is starting to become aware of her feelings on some level – while they’re in the Grassy Knoll, Abe tells Joan that the festival is “all about you, and me, and what you have here, heart-wise.”
In short, ‘Film Fest’ is really a collection of old jokes, but the personality and energy injected in them by both the episode’s visual moments, and the pure joy in the voices of the cast, make it another memorable episode of the show. It’s not quite ‘A.D.D.’, but it’s damn close.
– I didn’t talk about Mr. Butlertron and Scudworth, who were off on a friendship building adventure of hosting a dinner party for some of the Board of Shadowy Figures. In short, it’s a parody of multi-camera buddy sitcoms, with lots of loaded dialogue and laugh tracks. Definitely a bit odd, but does provide us with the images of Scudworth’s apartment, and the first mention of his evil plan since the pilot (I’m pretty sure).
– ‘Film Fest’ might have the series” most recognizable scene, with Ghandi trying to explain the vocal inflections needed to properly convey the phrase, “say whaaaaat?”
– Sigmund Freud on Joan’s film: “Hahahah, she’s in love with Abe… could it beeee any more obvious?”
– look closely, Adolf Hitler wearing a peace sign is visible in one shot of the episode. In other trivia, the dolphin appears in Joan’s movie.
– “You’re on thin ice, Scudworth. Karen Carpenter clone thin.” Would anybody even understand this reference anymore?
– Scudworth has another great line while on the call with the board: “Did you see the pool? They flipped the bitch!”
– “and now I’m shooting that wad… in 35 mm.” No, this is not a quote about JFK’s film.