Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Regular Show: “Limousine Lunchtime”

Illustration for article titled Regular Show: “Limousine Lunchtime”

I don’t always find Regular Show to be laugh-out-loud funny. It’s an entertaining and often fearlessly imaginative show, and its total commitment to pursuing  absurd plotlines is definitely amusing. But the show’s loose, freewheeling aesthetic isn’t especially well-suited to snappy one-liners or tight joke construction. “Limousine Lunchtime,” however, represents the show at its absolute most hilarious, particularly in the episode’s first half. The story is built around the climactic limousine-demolition derby, but the show mines terrific comedy out of the journey to that point. In its storytelling, Regular Show is all about escalation, starting at some mundane point and then building to some utterly insane endpoint.

Tonight, the show uses a similar approach with its first big gag, in which Rigby spills meatball sub all over Mr. Maellard’s prized White Stallion limousine. To get the story going, Regular Show doesn’t need much—as soon as Mordecai and Rigby declare “limousine lunchtime,” we know that the pair are going to make a mess that will be absolute hell to clean up. But the episode goes hilariously over-the-top with the dropping meatballs. The second Rigby takes a bite, the first meatball falls in slow motion, the dramatic music swelling as Mordecai and Rigby slowly shout, “No!” The episode immediately undercuts the gravity of this sequence as the music cuts out and Mordecai, his voice breaking, yells at Rigby. What happens next is gloriously, shamelessly implausible. Rigby goes to pick up the meatball, but the thing slips out of his hands and somehow manages to hit Mordecai square in the eye, which causes the meatballs in his sandwich to pop out, and then Rigby is so shocked that the meatball sub flies out of his hand. Even though the scene unfurls in slow motion, the situation builds hilariously quickly. The scene flagrantly defies the laws of physics—in particular, there’s no apparent reason why the sub should pop out of Rigby’s hand in an upward trajectory—but that’s what makes the scene so funny; this is narrative overkill at its comedic finest.

Even then, Regular Show isn’t done. The stain refuses to shift, and Rigby’s cleaning efforts leave the limousine entirely covered in meatball sub residue. Rigby slipping and sliding through the limousine is once again hilariously cruel to the characters, as everything goes a million times more wrong than they could have possibly imagined. For the show, that sequence is a relatively rare exercise in pure slapstick, and the sequence benefits from the unique physical attributes of Mordecai and Rigby—it’s a great capper for the sequence to see Mordecai use his oversized, arm-like wings (or is that wing-like arms?) to pick up the tiny Rigby as though he’s a helpless baby, because it makes the scene’s visual comedy distinct to these two characters. “Limousine Lunchtime” again subtly uses Rigby’s size for visual humor later in the episode, when he takes slightly longer than a normal-sized character would to reach the weapon buttons in the demolition derby. These potential sources of comedy are always there in the background of any Regular Show episode, but a lot of stories this season have taken them from granted as the show has sought to expand its universe. “Limousine Lunchtime” still constructs an entirely new, wonderfully bizarre world of bloodthirsty millionaires and their limousine-demolition derbies, but it also finds comedy in its main characters’ well-established silliness.

Mordecai and Rigby aren’t the only ones who are amusingly incompetent. Indeed, for the story to work, Benson has to miss his employees stealing the keys to the White Stallion, and the mechanic has to leave out crucial pieces of information until the right plot-mandated moment. There’s no way to accomplish these narrative objectives without making those two characters look stupid, so “Limousine Lunchtime” commits to making both of them look as dumb as possible. Mordecai and Rigby steal the limousine keys while Benson is busily watching an instructional video for bosses, in which the host declares the most important quality any successful boss must have is diligence; he implores Benson to act as though his employees are right behind him at all times. It’s another beautifully constructed bit, and it works because of all the little touches—Mordecai and Rigby steal the keys totally soundlessly and with wonderfully terrified looks on their faces, while the host sports the grimmest, angriest expression as he extols the importance of diligence. And then, just as Mordecai and Rigby slink away with the keys, a transfixed Benson whispers, “Poetry.” It’s a great comedic stinger on which to end the scene, and the episode features a few similar moments, including Mr. Maellard’s final, abrupt declaration that he’s so rich that he can just replace his newly stained replacement limousine, which renders all of Mordecai and Rigby’s efforts officially pointless.

The limousine-demolition derby feels like a more traditional Regular Show sequence, although that does mean the whole thing is an insane, absurd action sequence. “Lunchtime Limousine” posits that seemingly every last one of the world’s millionaires, dressed in their finest old-timey garb, comes to see their chauffeurs smash limousines into each other. The whole thing is ludicrously decadent; as the mechanic warns Mordecai and Rigby, they must never gaze directly at the millionaires, as their greed would instantly blind our heroes. The duo don’t have time to worry about that, though, as they are battered by jeep limousines, stretch limousines, and one ultra-stretch limousine that is actually longer than the arena—as that limousine’s inexplicably French driver angrily observes, the limousine’s instant crash happens “every time!” Mordecai and Rigby appear to be goners, until the mechanic helpfully—if rather belatedly—informs them that the White Stallion is equipped with an impressive offensive arsenal. As with Benson’s earlier ignorance, there’s no sane reason for the mechanic neglecting to mention this earlier, so he simply notes his tardiness and barrels right through along to the helpful advice. “Limousine Lunchtime” keeps taking the potentially weak areas of the story’s plotting and spins them into amusingly self-aware gags.

The final confrontation between the White Stallion and Limosaurus is another animation highlight. Limosaurus is, as his name implies, a dinosaur-like beast built entirely out of black limousines, give or take some rather lethal-looking teeth and claws. The monster hits just the right visual balance, as it makes just enough sense for its actions to be comprehensible, and yet its design remains completely insane. The animation takes a similar approach to the White Stallion’s missile; the animators include enough details for the engine and the limousine’s exterior for us to understand what happens when it splits open, but that doesn’t alter the fact that the missile couldn’t possibly fit inside it. Indeed, the missile appears to be at least twice as big as the White Stallion. Regular Show always takes an absurd approach to storytelling, but “Lunchtime Limousine” is even more psychotically dreamlike than usual in its logic. The episode’s willingness to repeatedly acknowledge its own nonsense is what makes this one of Regular Show’s funniest episodes.


Stray observations:

  • I’m trying to think whether there was any plot-related reason why the mechanic would be Mr. Maellard’s old chauffeur. I suppose it provides him with motivation to help out Mordecai and Rigby, but he seems like a decent enough guy that he would do that anyway.
  • This is another episode where Skips declares the problem too difficult for him to solve. Given his track record, that’s an effective way to up the stakes of the episode, and I love how matter-of-fact Mark Hamill sounds when he says, “Yeah… this is pretty bad.”
  • The dude wearing the sparkly orange suit and equally sparkly top hat is possibly the greatest human being in history. I must have that suit.