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On Abed's birthday, Jeff plans a specially themed surprise birthday for him based on his favorite movie, Pulp Fiction. But the tables are turned as Abed -- who has apparently undergone a recent and drastic change in personality -- invites an unsuspecting Jeff to dinner at a fancy restaurant. Meanwhile the study group (and Chang) wait for their arrival dressed as Pulp Fiction characters at the diner where Britta works. There, Troy struggles to contain his seething jealousy over Abed and Jeff's exclusive dinner while Chang stokes his curiosity over what's inside the suitcase Jeff got Abed as a present.
The Community episode "Critical Film Studies" contains examples of:
- Affectionate Parody: To Pulp Fiction and My Dinner with Andre
- Becoming the Mask: Abed tells Jeff he did this by creating a persona, 'Chad', while acting as an extra on Cougar Town.
- Bowdlerise: In-universe example; apparently, the 'airplane' version of Pulp Fiction Shirley has seen had this happen to it in a very, very, very bad way:
Pierce: Has anyone seen this film we're referencing? Am I the hero or the love interest?
- Bring My Brown Pants: Abed mentions having pooped his pants when realizing his role as 'Chad' had come to an end.
- Call Back: Abed's story about creating a fictional version of himself in order to get through a situation he hadn't anticipated, only to suffer a crisis of identity upon realizing that the made-up version of himself had 'lived' more than him, mirrors Annie's experiences in "Mixology Certification". Granted, unlike Annie's Abed's crisis of identity involved pooping his pants.
- This isn't the first time Abed's love of Cougar Town has been mentioned.
- The Corrupter: Chang to Troy
- Crossover: Abed actually does show up in Cougar Town.
- Curse Cut Short:
Jeff: Get it? It's like Pulp Fiction. It's a wallet that says Bad Mother F...
- Diner Brawl: A brief one breaks out between Chang and Troy after Troy burns the Pulp Fiction briefcase.
- Do You Want to Haggle?: Parodied, as Jeff and Britta's boss haggle over the ruined briefcase.
Jeff: I'll give you $1,200 in damages and Britta gets her job back.
- Drunk with Power: Parodied in a very minor way:
Britta: I am responsible for this diner when my boss isn't around!
- Epiphany Therapy: Abed claims to have had this while being a background extra on Cougar Town.
- Genius Bonus / Viewers Are Geniuses: There are certain references that clue you in that the real movie that Abed is homaging is My Dinner With Andre long before he comes out and says so, but you'd need to have seen it in order to pick up on them. And it's fair to say that not many people have. And even if you have, it can still fly over your head.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Jeff gives Abed a copy of Jules' wallet from Pulp Fiction, but gets cut off before he can say what the label is. If you've seen the movie, you know exactly why that is.
- Insistent Terminology: Abed doesn't do movie spoofs; he homages.
- Lost in Character: Parodied.
- Malt Shop: "The Greasy Fork", The Fifties themed diner where Britta works and where Abed's surprise party was supposed to take place (as an obvious stand-in for Pulp Fiction's Jack Rabbit Slim's). Brian, the owner, explains to Annie why it's peak business hours are after eight at night:
"After they get frightened by the evening news many seek the comforting foods and soothing music of a pre-racial America."
- Method Acting: Abed actually employed this for his walk-on role on Cougar Town, and became so immersed in imagining his character's whole life that he went into a panic, causing him to collapse and poop his pants.
- Mexican Standoff: During the Good Times Montage at the end, as part of the Pulp Fiction-themed party.
- Narrator: Jeff, a la Wallace Shawn in My Dinner With Andre.
- Never My Fault:
- After Chang has goaded Troy into inadvertantly destroying Jeff's gift.
Chang: I know I'm preaching to the choir, but you're a bad friend.
- Also, this exchange after Britta catches Troy and Chang opening the briefcase:
Troy: Chang made me do it! He seduced me with his dark Chinese powers!
- Never Trust a Trailer: Promotional material lead people to believe the episode would be a wacky parody of Pulp Fiction. The episode focuses almost entirely on Jeff bonding with Abed, which is later revealed to have just been a parody to My Dinner with Andre. The Pulp Fiction homages all happen within the last few seconds of the episode.
- The Not-Secret: The surprise gift Troy has got for Abed is quite clearly a remote control helicopter. Intriguingly, Abed appears genuinely puzzled as to what it could be when he receives it.
- Oh Crap: The look on Abed's face when Jeff clearly starts getting a bit too much into the whole "real conversation" thing... leading to his story about the Indian girl outfit.
- Old Shame: Jeff being made to dress like an Indian girl by his mother on Halloween when he was a kid.
- On Three: RUN!
- Promoted Fanboy: Abed tells Jeff a story where becomes this when he got to visit the set of Cougar Town, one of his favorite shows and be an extra. Some parts are true, some are made up.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: The episode ends with Erik Satie's "Gymnopedie No. 1" playing under it.
- Shockingly Expensive Bill: Used as a gag in The Tag.
Troy: It said "market price"! What market are you shopping at?!!
- Several to Cougar Town.
- At one point during his conversation with Jeff, Abed compares himself to Data, Johnny Five, Mork, HAL, KITT, K-9, "Woodstock and/or Snoopy", and Spock.
- Early on Jeff asks Abed why he's "dressed like Mister Rogers and talking like Frasier". Of course, Abed is actually dressed as Andre from My Dinner with Andre.
- And, of course, all the main characters except Abed are dressed as characters from Pulp Fiction; Jeff is Vincent Vega, Shirley is Jules, Britta is Mia Wallace, Troy is Pumpkin, Annie is Honeybunny, Chang is Butch and Pierce is The Gimp.
- Smug Snake: Chang literally moves like a cobra from behind the counter and tries to tempt Troy to look inside the suitcase Jeff got for Abed.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Troy comes out with two in about as many minutes. What makes them particularly notable is that in the first one no one's even discussing the thing he's 'denying', and in the second one no one's even speaking.
Annie: It's really great of Jeff to put this together.
Jeff: He watched Cougar Town. It was like he didn't want people to like him.
- Worth noting, Cougar Town was co-created by Bill Lawrence, friend and former Scrubs co-worker of Community producers Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan.
- Unusual Euphemism: Troy refers to wine as "no-no juice".
- We Want Our Weirdo Back: Jeff is upset that Abed isn't acting his usual weird self. Mainly because it conflicts with the surprise party he had planned.
- Weirder Than Usual: Abed acting not weird.
- Whole-Plot Reference: To My Dinner with Andre, not Pulp Fiction as suggested.