"The Spoils of Babylon": An Incredibly Funny, Star-Studded Send-Up of the 1980s Miniseries
The Spoils of Babylon, a six-part series which premieres Thursday on IFC, is a hilarious send-up of the cheesy, overwrought miniseries of the 1970s and 1980s. (Think The Thorn Birds and Rich Man, Poor Man.) Starring Tobey Maguire as a World War II hero who lusts after his adoptive sister against the backdrop of his family's oil empire, this Funny or Die-produced mock epic has intentionally low production values and lovably dumb humor. It also has an impressive cast (Tim Robbins, Kristen Wiig, Jessica Alba, Val Kilmer, Michael Sheen, Haley Joel Osment, Will Ferrell, and Carey Mulligan) and a political edge, with nods to modern economic crises.
In one scene, a gathering of mega-rich, cigar-chomping businessmen criticize current US president Franklin D. Roosevelt as a "socialist" and a "Russian Jew!" Jonas Morehouse (played by Robbins), a self-made oilman and Morehouse patriarch, speaks up in FDR's defense, saying that the wealthy deserve to be taxed into oblivion for their role in causing the Great Depression. In another scene, Jonas presents his adopted son Devon (Maguire) with a new invention—a steam-powered carburetor that gets 200 miles a gallon. It's an invention that would revolutionize transportation and "destroy the oil industry," Devon observes in awe.