The Phantom Cuticle

Review by Michael Jacobson

Voices (and thumbs):  Steve Oedekerk, Andrea Fears, Ross Schaefer, Rob Paulsen
Director:  Steve Oedekerk
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  Image Entertainment
Features:  See Review
Length:  29 Minutes
Release Date:  October 16, 2001

“Run, Loke!”

“Oobedoob…you’re still here!”

“Yes…in spirit!”

“Well…that’s kinda creepy…”

Film ***

If there were thumbs in space, and they got mad at each other, there would be…Thumb Wars.

Star Wars may be one of the most spoofed series in film history, but it’s never gotten a treatment like the one Steve Oedekerk gives it in this short featurette.  The actors are all thumbs…literally.

Looking like something Salvador Dali might have dreamt up after eating some bad puffer fish, Oedekerk’s creations are costumed thumbs with human mouths and CGI eyes.  They are fascinatingly funny in and of themselves, and a lot more expressive than you might think…there certainly have been a lot worse performances this year than these thumbs, who all nail (pun intended) their individual roles terrifically.

It is a time of galactic strife, as the evil Thumbpire is completing construction on a really big weapon thing with enough power to blow stuff up.  The only hope is the Thumbellion, led by the plucky Princess Bunhead.  However, she has been captured by the evil Dark Helmet Man (“doesn’t he have a great voice?”), and hope seems to be fading.

But with the aid of an old Thumb Master, Oobedoob Benubi, the man with the silliest name in the galaxy, and a whiny farm boy, Loke Groundrunner, the Thumbellion may live to fight again.  Hitching a ride with a macho pilot Hand Duet (who’s obviously seen too many Harrison Ford movies), they rescue the Princess and arrange an all out assault on the dreaded Thumb Star.

As silly as this all seems, it’s not as silly as it actually plays out on screen.  Silly, but very funny, in a twisted sort of way.  The film spoofs all things Star Wars, so only a very few won’t get all the in-jokes.  One of my favorites?  The names of Loke’s aunt and uncle, which are…no, on second thought, I’ll leave that for you to discover.

But I can’t say enough about the thumbs…what wonderfully funny concoctions they are!  They’re what make this picture work.  Some of them reminded me of people I went to school with…hmm…

Thumb Wars is light, irreverent fun.  I had a good time watching it, and watching it again, so I’m going to give it (can you guess?)…thumbs up.

Video ***1/2

This is a quality DVD presentation from Image…the program originally aired on television, so the full frame ratio is the correct one.  The transfer is bright and very colorful, with good detail and crisp lines, and no color bleeding or grain to interfere with the quality.  Dark space scenes render just as well as brighter landscape shots.  High marks.

Audio ***

The 5.1 soundtrack is good, though without a lot of discreet left-right channel usage on the rear stage, but some decent uses of front to back crossovers.  The music and dialogue are clean and clear throughout, as are the effects, which add a bit of dynamic range to the mix.

Features ***

There is a commentary track by creator Steve Oedekerk and producer Paul Marshal, which is an amusing listen.  There are also three trailers, one for this film, one for Thumbtanic and one for The Blair Thumb Project…there are also storyboards, talent files, and an interview with “Gabba the Butt”…ah, you have to see that one for yourself.


It’s unique, it’s funny…it’s only $9.98 SRP, so you can’t go wrong.  Thumb Wars is one of the better Star Wars spoofs I’ve seen, and most fans of the original series should enjoy this creative offering from Steve Oedekerk.  One thing’s for certain…you’ll never look at your own thumbs the same way again.