Thumb Wars: The Phantom Cuticle [1999]

You'll believe a thumb can talk! Writer-director Steve Oedekerk (Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls) compresses highlights of the entire trilogy into this goofy burlesque of the original Star Wars. The humor is pretty adolescent, a spoofing series of pithy puns, winking in-jokes, silly sight gags, and character caricatures, but the screwy magic Thumbation skews it all into a brand-new realm. This revolutionary process marries desktop digital effects and good old-fashioned thumb puppetry with a twisted, sick genius: human mouths and eyes are not merely morphed onto the thumbs but squished into cartoonish exaggeration. The resulting creations are like strange alien beings from a galactic farce far, far away, and the film is an equally oddball mix of chintzy toy sets and doll costumes and elaborate CGI space battles. For an all-thumbs production, it's genuinely inspired. The commentary by creator Steve Oedekerk and producer Paul Marshal doesn't shed much light on the production, but it does up the pun quotient significantly. The DVD debut also features trailers from Thumbation classics Thumbtanic and The Blair Thumb; gag "thumbographies" of the characters; a strange, silly interview with Gabba the Butt; and a gallery of storyboards (look closely and you'll see the title The Incredible Mr. Limpet printed on the bottom--guess who was funding this picture's preproduction). --Sean Axmaker

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