As usual, packed-to-sold-out twin theaters at NYC’s Union Square. I laughed plenty and enjoyed both the short and the movie, but this was easily Rifftrax’s weakest show of the past couple of years. Remember how, in the short, they riff the fact the rag doll is made to look just different-enough from Raggedy Ann/Andy to avoid copyright infringement? Well, the problem riffing “Santa Claus Conquers The Martians” after the “MST3K” version is that both the Titans and Rifftrax gang have to step around the ‘Cha-cha-cha’ at the end of the theme song, the ‘You have got to be kidding me!’ when the polar bear appears, the ‘Spanish Inquisition’ riff when the martians enter Santa’s workshop, the ‘Died in Vietnam’ line when Santa’s face appears at the end, etc. with alternate jokes/riffs that just pale compared to the canonical (and still vastly superior) “MST3K” version. I need to rewatch this Rifftrax version alongside CT’s, but they’re both clearly threading water.
That said, nothing like seeing the movie on a big screen (and the one at theater 4 in Union Square was HUGE!) to get absorbed in the just-plain awfulness of the movie and the way it sees and treats its intended audience as moronic brain-dead mouth breathers. Was anyone else just dying and waiting during the short for the callback to Mr. B Natural that didn’t come? I love it when the riffers, here or in CT, realize that silence is golden and letting the awful movie be it’s own joke works best. The first and last third of “SCCTM” were the weakest, and toward the end the ‘Santa/Lady Momar’ sexual innuendo jokes felt kind-of out of place but were the only thing regularly bringing in the big laughs. Mike’s riff that little Billy describing his sister as being eight ‘was all you need to know about her’ was priceless, a perfect summation of what a cipher character little Betty is. Dropo continues to be this movie’s nadir though, an empty hole of nothingness that is just thrown at the screen constantly.
The middle-third of the film though, from when Chochem appears (‘Chinese restaurants full of Jews’) to when Santa arrives in Mars, was extremely well-paced and packed with some big laughs. The ‘Daniel Plainview’ martian jokes were thankfully kept to a minimum to maximize their impact, since Voldar is too good a bad movie character to reduce to one stereotype. Mike’s ‘the hell with them’ (the equivalent of “Starship Troopers’” ‘wedding vows’), Kevin’s ‘up yours!’ and the Alex Trebek funeral march brought the house down. And even though it got almost no laughs I loved Santa’s ‘So you’re the bad robot that makes all those awful TV shows’ line. Likewise, the ‘you used to hang around Fred Flintstone’ riff got almost no laughs but I loved it. And, of course, ‘Diabetes. Razz
Overall, even weak sauce live Rifftrax kicks lots of comedic ass. I got as much from “SCCTM” as I expected, and nothing beats laughing in a group at something we have laughed at in the privacy of our homes for almost 20 years now. Better luck next time with, hopefully, a better movie that hasn’t been mined for laughs three times already by roughly the same group of comedians.