Bored Of The Rings
by Henry N. Beard and Douglas C. Kenney
Published by Touchstone (192 pages),
Reviewed by Adam Armstrong
In an article for The Writer, Ray Bradbury once wrote: "We build tensions toward laughter, then give permission, and laughter comes," and "sicken me not unless you show me the way to the ship's rail."* I wonder what he would have thought at The Harvard Lampoon's poor attempt at a parody of The Lord of the Rings. Authors Henry N. Beard and Douglas C. Kenney build tension toward laughter but never give you a break before dumping more on your head. Though you pray and search, there is no ship's rail in sight.
We all know the story, or at least the basic outline of this parody. Our Boggie hero, Frito Bugger, must take the not so great ring and toss it in the Zazu Pits while the dark lord Sorhed sends his armies out to stop them. Frito is accompanied by a party of sociopaths : Spam Gangree, Goodgulf Grayteeth, and the twins Moxie and Pepsi. If you’re a fan of the books and/or movies the pun on the names will give you a bit of a chuckle but their silly actions quickly grow tiring. The jokes and zaniness of this parody are piled on top of each other to the point where you can't catch a breath in between them.
Other characters include: Arrowroot of Arrowshirt, Legolam, and Gimlet. They mostly appear for slapstick that just doesn't work, though punsters may appreciate some of the puns. Unlike the source material, we are blessedly limited in the amount of characters that appear to quip bad one-liners and behave in a pointless manner. The various aspects of the quests, important to the original tale, are glossed over here with more bad puns.
There are a few gems in this huge dung pile, most of which are in the footnotes. There were some really obscure references explained in a funny way. Or when it is "revealed" that this book only exists to make money. In fact, these were the only times I actually laughed while reading this book. Though this is an updated version, most of the 1960's references are left in. I suspect that modern generations won't get them. A few drops of highbrow humor in an ocean of lowbrow filth don’t make it worth reading, even if it is less than 200 pages.
I am aware that this is a parody and not meant to be taken seriously. But a modicum of seriousness between jokes could have gone a long way in making this at least tolerable. Instead we are treated with an Adam Sandler-type treatment where he just gets angry and shouts for the entire 90 minutes. It doesn't have to be high drama but at least give us something that is not an attempt at humor so we can get grounded for the next joke.
At least the book was honest about only existing to make money. Avoid this like the plague and read the source material instead.
*"The Secret Mind," The Writer, November, 1965.
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