After last week’s misfire, the prospect of another Muscle Man-centric episode was a cause for concern. Muscle Man is a character who works best in small doses, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he only works when used sparingly. One key to crafting successful Muscle Man stories is to focus on topics that can’t be explored with Mordecai or Rigby, as that provides clear justification for why the two protagonists are taking a backseat. And, unlikely as it might seem, Muscle Man is absolutely essential if Regular Show ever wants to explore romance and relationships with a couple that’s actually together, as opposed to whatever the hell Mordecai and Margaret are. In this case, his long weekend’s separation from Starla lets the show demonstrate just how ludicrous young love can be—it also allows the show to contrast Muscle Man and Mordecai’s approaches to romance. Besides, the episode gets in a couple of gloriously absurd montages, which is always a plus.
The episode opens with a screening of a pretentious, vaguely French romance movie entitled The Longest Weekend. Seated in the theater are Rigby, Mordecai, Muscle Man, Muscle Man’s girlfriend Starla, Margaret, and Eileen—arranged in that particular order, so that our heroes don’t have to deal with watching a weird love story while seated next to their would-be girlfriends. Parodies are always tricky to mesh with Regular Show’s slacker aesthetic, as a big part of Regular Show’s offbeat charm means that it just isn’t the kind of show that does sumptuous, meticulously detailed pastiches. Instead, The Longest Weekend is a decidedly half-assed parody, full of the sorts of gags created by somebody who vaguely remembers seeing some art films in a freshman-year class on the history of cinema.
That means The Longest Weekend is only ever going to feature the obvious clichés of pretentious films, but Regular Show recognizes the key to making this work: If all you have is obvious clichés, make sure to include every obvious cliché. As such, the movie features windswept backdrops of both a dead tree and a sailboat, plus random cutaways to a piano, a child letting go of a kite, and of course a single red rose set against the otherwise black-and-white imagery. It’s a scattershot approach, and it works well with the increasingly ludicrous dialogue, as the two classical lovers go from overcooked metaphors to a portentous discussion of how “awesome” their reunion will be after a long weekend apart. And then, when they throw away their plans to stay separated for a long weekend—which arguably raises some very serious questions about what was going on for all the rest of a movie called The Longest Weekend—their embrace ends in their inexplicable explosion, which isn’t so much a cliché of art films (it isn’t, or if it is I need to start watching art movies pronto) as it is just a random bit of silliness.
“Silly” really is the key word for Regular Show’s parodies, and The Longest Weekend is one of the best examples of how to combine the show’s laidback vibe with a drastically different tone. And for all my (entirely complimentary) suggestions about the half-assed nature of the parody, the scene features some great little background details, particularly the three other people in the audience, one of whom actually walks out of the film in frustration with mere moments left in the film whereas the other two are fairly accurate representations of the kinds of loveable weirdoes who sit alone in empty theaters watching movies like The Longest Weekend. In any event, while the guys are decidedly unimpressed by the movie—and even Margaret and Eileen shake off their initial heartfelt response to the movie when the guys start ripping on it—Starla decides the movie has much to teach her and Muscle Man about their relationship, and so she proposes they too spend a long weekend apart so as to test their love. Muscle Man, confident that he can breeze through a few days without his lady love, does the only sensible thing and whips off his shirt in the middle of the night to celebrate his own awesomeness.
The rest of the episode runs through a series of silly setpieces, kicking off with Muscle Man realizing just how much he misses Starla. It’s hard to find too many new spins on the gag where everything a character sees reminds him of his missing lover, but “The Longest Weekend” manages the trick with the introduction of couples monster trucking, in which a pair of monsters trucks crush some cars together and then “smooch” by smashing into each other repeatedly. The subsequent “Chilling” song is a bit of tossed-off nonsense, the kind of silliness one would expect from the teaming of Mordecai, Rigby, and that notorious wild man Hi-Five Ghost. It’s a wonderful digression into good-natured adolescent idiocy, made all the more goofily innocent by the fact that the trio are all drinking “soda” out of paper bags while lounging around and wearing cool sunglasses. Regular Show hasn’t done too many extended non sequiturs like this, but “Chilling” is a good reminder of how infectiously fun the show can be.
The next montage is another simple joke construction, as Mordecai and Rigby come through for their friend Muscle Man by destroying any and all of his means of communication with Starla. The first iteration of the gag is straightforward if over-the-top, as Mordecai actually rips Muscle Man’s telephone out of the wall to prevent his pal from calling Starla. The next part of the gag is both absurd and entirely in keeping with what we know about Muscle Man and the Regular Show universe, as he clambers into a rusting car to contact Starla via C.B. radio, only for Mordecai to again destroy the device. The final gag is a nice twist on the usual setup, as Mordecai and Rigby almost fling the company computer in the trash—lest Muscle Man go into a chat room with Starla, naturally—only to relent when faced with Benson’s boiling rage.
Throughout, the episode draws parallels between Starla and Muscle Man’s relationship and Margaret and Mordecia’s lack thereof. “The Longest Weekend” suggests that Mordecai and Margaret are infinitely more sensible than their friends, but that’s exactly the problem: Muscle Man and Starla may be idiots, but they’re passionate idiots, dammit. Mordecai accidentally makes clear his feelings for Margaret as they discuss their counterparts’ silliness over the phone. He awkwardly catches himself and backpedals furiously, and Margaret doesn’t push the subject. There’s a profound idea lurking around the edges of “The Longest Weekend,” one that suggests big passionate emotions are a prerequisite for a romantic relationship to exist, and you can’t know the joy of love without enduring the insanity of all the rest.
Muscle Man and Starla are willing to make that tradeoff, while Mordecai and Margaret aren’t, at least not yet. And while the latter might get to share the episode’s final exchange, it’s the former whose love transforms them into shining fireballs, which collide and explode in a truly wondrous montage of a dog falling into a pond, a car exploding as it runs off a ramp, an elderly golfer being struck by lightning, a watermelon being smashed by a mallet which in turn is smashed by another mallet, a fish puffing up, some wood being karate-chopped, a tree being struck by lightning, another watermelon being smashed, and a man running into a portable toilet, which then explodes. And if those all aren’t the perfect metaphor for love, I don’t know what is. Or possibly the perfect metaphor for sex, but that’s a possibility far too disturbing to contemplate.
- Has anyone in the history of television ever actually completed a game of Go Fish? Hell, has anyone in the history of civilization actually finished a game of Go Fish, or is it just the universally acknowledged signifier for boredom?
- I appreciate that Muscle Man had a Muscle Man mask available for escape purposes, and Mordecai still somehow spent several seconds searching for him in the bed before noticing he was trapped in the window.
- Oh hey, Thomas made an appearance! And he maybe even had a line, albeit as part of a group scene. So let there be no doubt: Thomas still exists, and most likely still possesses the gift of speech. I think we’ll all sleep easier knowing that.