Rick & Morty: Every Jurassic Park Reference In “Anatomy Park”
Rick & Morty is famous for parodying sci-fi classics, such as the Jurassic Park references in the show’s Spielberg spoof episode “Anatomy Park.”
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Rick & Morty is famous for parodying sci-fi classics, such as the Jurassic Park references in the show’s Spielberg spoof episode, “Anatomy Park.” Ever since the Adult Swim series began life as a ribald (read: filthy) Back to the Future parody, Rick & Morty has always had a thing for satirizing the sci-fi genre. Although the show uses a lot of genre tropes in its anarchic comedy, its irreverent sense of humor means Rick & Morty is never above mocking even the most beloved classics of the genre. Over their many adventures, the eponymous duo has spoofed everything from Alien to The Avengers, but it’s rare for the show to devote an entire episode to referencing one movie — but that’s exactly what the writers achieved with “Anatomy Park.”
Of course, because this is the lightning-fast Rick & Morty, the show can’t simply settle on parodying Spielberg’s “dinosaur theme park gone wrong” blockbuster from 1993. Instead, the plot is initially more of an homage to Fantastic Voyage, a classic fifties sci-fi film almost remade by Guillermo del Toro and also spoofed by The Simpsons’ criminally underrated “Treehouse of Horror XV.”
With its mile-a-minute pace, the show does need to reorder the events of Jurassic Park to fit in all its references (and leave room for a cringeworthy B-story dwelling on the open relationship of Jerry’s parents, naturally). But Rick & Morty does an impressive job of hitting most of the Michael Crichton adaptation’s biggest story beats into this animated, truncated spoof.
“Welcome Morty, welcome to Anatomy Park ” – Setting up the premise of this episode takes about a minute of screen-time away from parodying the nineties classic, but once the story’s established, it’s high octane parody. Rick welcomes Reuben, a homeless test subject, into the family’s home and ushers him into the garage. After he provides a transparent cover story for his antics, and Rick promptly shrinks Morty and drops him inside Reuben. But once inside, Morty discovers Reuben isn’t just Reuben — but rather, he’s home to “Anatomy Park,” a theme park housed entirely in his body. Rick’s triumphant line “welcome, Morty, welcome to Anatomy Park” is the first of many direct lifts from Jurassic Park, and in case the reference wasn’t clear enough the scene immediately cuts to the park’s entrance sign which features the famous font of the film’s ill-fated tourist attraction.
The Monorail – The monorail (or “bone train”, as regular Dan Harmon collaborator John Oliver’s guest character insists upon terming it) that is used to travel through and eventually escape Anatomy Park is another reference to Jurassic Park. A monorail is used to travel through the island in the original 1993 film, although unusually it’s not a train-style light rail system but rather individual jeeps attached to an electrified bar (all the better to divide and separate the characters with). While both Anatomy Park and Jurassic Park feature monorail transport through their attractions, more recent iterations of the Jurassic Park franchise such as 2015’s reboot Jurassic World and the Netflix’s series Camp Cretaceous feature a train-style monorail as the park’s main navigation route, which does leave a viewer to wonder whether the movie series was inspired by this spoof.
Dr. Xenon Bloom – John Oliver’s Dr. Xenon Bloom, the eccentric, cane-using, older, white-mustached, British co-owner and operator of Anatomy Park, is a pretty clear reference to the late Richard Attenborough’s Jurassic Park character John Hammond, who shares all the aforementioned qualities with his cartoon counterpart. Bizarrely, Bloom is a bit more of a hero than his non-comedic inspiration, as he’s willing to sacrifice himself (even if it wasn’t technically necessary) to save the titular Morty and his newfound love interest, Annie. Where Spielberg’s film is happy to forgive the wealthy philanthropist for underpaying his staff and under-securing his park because he’s a kindly old Brit, Bloom’s death in the episode is more in line with Hammond’s fate in the source novel.
“Security’s offline” – The premise of the security system shutting down and the living museum’s inhabitants breaking free to terrorize the park’s few inhabitants is common to both Jurassic Park and Anatomy Park, with Rick & Morty’s inventive spin on the idea changing the dinosaurs into diseases. The scene in which the small group of survivors heads to the food court is a recreation of Jurassic Park’s climactic hiding in the food hall, although the show’s characters haven’t got time to start eating before they’re chased into the next locale.
“This disaster was an inside job” – According to Bloom, who confides in Morty, the security’s failure can only have been an intentional plan enacted by someone working in the park. Although Bloom guesses the wrong culprit in Annie, the idea behind this twist is another lift from Jurassic Park. In the original movie, Hammond’s rivals in BioSyn (the big-picture baddies set to return in Jurassic World 3) conspire with the over-worked, underpaid IT guy, Dennis Nedry (played by Wayne Knight of Space Jam fame) shuts down the site’s security to steal some dino DNA and set up a rival park. In Rick & Morty’s version of events, the thief turns out to be the musclebound Poncho (who bears about as much resemblance to Knight’s character as Annie does). Poncho soon gets killed off by his hubris much like Nedry, but the show’s character does at least get to cathartically slam his cheapskate boss before getting killed off, something which we never got the see in the original film’s plot-hole-opening Dennis Nedry subplot.
“Wait I was wrong, I was thinking of a T-rex” – Probably the most shamelessly obvious reference outside of the titular park comes in the form of Bloom’s confident assertion that the group will be able to avoid detection by gonorrhea, one of the park’s dangerous attractions, when he claims “gonorrhea can’t see us if we don’t move”. This comment ironically ends up garnering the attention of the disease which immediately starts chasing them, prompting Bloom’s hurried admission that he mixed up the venereal disease’s behavior with that of a T-rex. The gag makes an obvious parallel between the dinosaur, Jurassic Park’s main antagonist and eventual unlikely hero, and the disease that’s after them.
The Theatre- Finally and most subtly, the brief scene in the park’s theater is a remix of Jurassic Park’s exposition-packed theater scene. In Spielberg’s film, the characters converge in a theater at the beginning of the movie to learn the (completely inaccurate) science behind Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs, whereas here a hopeless Bloom and loved-up Morty and Annie arrive in the theater after their escape plan has failed. The “how the park works” lecture is delivered by a Reuben animatronic instead of an educational movie, presumably because it looks a lot funnier, but the design of the theater is recognizably a riff on Jurassic Park’s similar setting.
Bizarrely, there’s another minor reference in the episode’s closing scenes which seems to parody the ending of Jurassic World… Except that Jurassic World wouldn’t be released for another two years after this episode aired. As Morty and Annie finally make their escape, the fearsome Hepatitis C re-emerges and all seems lost, only for the even bigger Hepatitis B to vanquish and eat the disease in much the same manner as Jurassic World’s Mossasaurus saved the film’s characters from the Indominus Rex. To be fair, the scene could also be a nod to Jurassic Park’s famous “T-rex saves the kids from the raptors” denouement, but it’s a much closer visual match to the Jurassic World ending. Maybe the loving homage went both ways between Rick & Morty and the blockbuster series.