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'Rick and Morty' Season 4, Episode 3 is just its latest epic action parody

There’s something about the promo for Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 3 that makes it feel like Adult Swim’s answer to the Fast & Furious movies, an ensemble team-up involving an action-packed heist that has nothing to do with superheroes.

Maybe it’s the obvious reference to the oft-memed macho handshake from the original Predator when Arnold Schwarzenegger cries out “Dillon! You sonofabitch!” before grasping Carl Weathers’ arm for an awkward mid-air arm wrestle. Dillon’s trying to recruit Dutch for a job, and that’s exactly what’s happening in the Rick and Morty episode called “One Crew Over the Crewcoo’s Morty.” Glar the hulking alien says, “Rick Sanchez! You sonofabitch!”

Rick spends some time recruiting Glar, a woman whose robotic hands splinter out into a bunch of different hands, and Truckula (a vampire truck driver). Rick and Morty has parodied ensemble action movies in the past, but never anything quite like this.

So, as we prepare ourselves for Season 4, Episode 3, here are 6 times that Rick and Morty poked fun at the action movie genre beyond making fun of the Avengers in the obvious Vindicators episode:

6. Inception

As far as ensemble heist movies that fall squarely in the realm of science fiction, you’d be hard-pressed to find one more cerebral than Christopher Nolan’s Inception in which Leonardo DiCaprio takes a crew inside the dreams of Cillian Murphy to convince him to dissolve his business empire.

In an early Season 1 episode called “Lawnmower Dog,” Rick takes Morty inside the dreams of Morty’s math teacher Mr. Goldenfold to accomplish the more mundane task of incepting the poor man into giving Morty better grades, with the ultimate goal being more freedom for Morty. Rick doesn’t need to assemble a crack team to accomplish this, but he does eventually team up with a cheap knock-off of Freddy Krueger named Scary Terry.

5. Ball Fondlers is The A-Team

A direct parody of The A-Team, Ball Fondlers in the multiverse of Rick and Morty is the title of a similar series that in some universes also becomes a movie.

The team is comprised of an alien that looks like Noob-Noob, a suave crocodile humanoid with a lollipop, an Amazonian woman with an assault rifle, and a black man meant to resemble Mr. T but with two afro puffs that evoke Princess Leia’s buns. I pity the fool who would actually watch such a show, but it’s a pretty hardcore way to parody The A-Team.

4. Jan Quadrant Vincent 16 is just a ridiculous action movie mashup starring Jan-Michael Vincent

Jan-Michael Vincent might sound like a totally made up name for Rick and Morty’s second Interdimensional Cable episode in Season 2, subtitled “Tempting Fate.” He was an action star best known in the role of Stringfellow Hawke, a helicopter pilot on the TV series Airwolf.

In a trailer for Jan Quadrant Vincent 16, Jan-Michael Vincent is repeatedly cloned in some sort of dystopian reality where society has been fractured beyond recognition, and these clones are used to restore some semblance of order in a barely comprehensible plot. The whole joke here is that neither Morty nor Rick know who Jan-Michael Vincent is, perhaps because the actor’s fame had faded by the late ‘80s after Airwolf ended. Does this bit make fun of the actor, who died in early 2019? Or does it make fun of the schlocky type of action movies and shows he starred in? The answer is both.

3. The Purge with cat people is better than The Purge

Rick and Morty once devoted an entire episode to lampooning The Purge as a cinematic franchise. In “Look Who’s Purging Now,” the duo stop at a random planet to refuel on the eve of their annual “Festival.” As it turns out, the Festival follows a very familiar set of rules where laws are abolished for a 12-hour period.

True to the spirit of the original movies, the entire reason for this Purge is so that the upper class can control the lower classes in uncouth ways. Rick and Morty has a lot of fun with the concept, especially when the alien species are humanoid cats with much more primitive technology.

2. Rickmancing the Stone is a superbMad Max parody

One of the best episodes in Rick and Morty Season 3 may be titled after a movie set in a jungle starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner (Romancing the Stone), but “Rickmancing the Stone” is actually a hardcore Mad Max: Fury Road parody that’s a ton of fun and full of gruesome, exciting action.

It’s a spot-on satire where Morty and Summer process their parents’ impending divorce by fighting with and alongside Death Stalker sand raiders, but after Rick enhances their civilization with some technological updates, life gets just as mundane for them as it can over here in the real world.

1. “Pickle Rick” is a steady stream of hi-octane action movie references

Rick and Morty Season 3 may have offered a touching reminder of why we need to invest in mental health with “Pickle Rick,” but when Rick turns himself into a pickle just to get out of family therapy, the end result is an epic montage of action movie references that only intensify as the episode goes on.

The video above from GameSpot highlights some specific sequences that feel like they riff on movies like Iron Man, Old Boy, some X-Men movies (including Deadpool), but also classics like The Rock, Die Hard, Time Cop, and so many more. Even the scene when Pickle Rick staples a pickle slice to his side is lifted right out of Rambo III. For fans of any and all action movies, “Pickle Rick” is a gold mine of references.

Rick and Morty Season 4 airs Sunday nights on Adult Swim at 11:30 p.m. Eastern.

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