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Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (1996) Movie Poster
  •  USA  •    •  73m  •    •  Directed by: Jim Mallon.  •  Starring: Trace Beaulieu, Michael J. Nelson, Jim Mallon, Kevin Murphy, John Brady, Faith Domergue, Lance Fuller, Russell Johnson, Robert Nichols, Regis Parton, Rex Reason.  •  Music by: Billy Barber.
       The mad and evil scientist, Dr. Clayton Forrester, has created an evil little scheme that is bound to give him world global domination but first thing's first. He plans to torment Mike Nelson and the robots by sending them a real stinker of a film to watch called, "This Island Earth." He is convinced that this movie will drive them insane. And since the guys cannot control when the movie begins or ends, they are forced to witness the true horror that is this awful movie that has a lobster creature dressed in slacks. But will this be the ultimate cheese that breaks the boys' spirits? It's up to one test subject's quick wit, sharp sense of humor, and utter intolerance for cinematic garbage to foil the plans of the scientist and to save the Earth.


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Image from: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (1996)
Image from: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (1996)
Image from: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (1996)
Image from: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (1996)
Image from: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (1996)
A friend of mine once said that certain works of comedy - including some genuinely inspired and funny ones - tend to attract people who like to borrow someone else's sense of humour because they have none of their own. This is one of them.

The best heckling sessions are spontaneous. They come about when a group of people sit down in an honest attempt to enjoy a movie and find their efforts frustrated by the movie's jaw-dropping awfulness. "This Island Earth", while admittedly no masterpiece, looks (from what we can see of it here) to be reasonably well produced, NOT utterly moronic in conception, and far above the level of jaw-dropping awfulness required - unlike the linking segments shot for this film, which have all the frenetic, forced goofiness of an infantile Saturday morning cartoon show. Besides, the hecklers never even gave "This Island Earth" a chance: they let loose with the wisecracks the INSTANT the opening credits hit the screen. Whatever else may be wrong with the rest of the movie, there's nothing wrong, surely, with the opening credits.

Most of the wisecracks are, it turns out, funny, which is one of two reasons the exercise is not a total loss. But few of the jokes are as funny in practise as they are in principle. Something about the way they're superimposed on top of the original soundtrack - the way the 1996 movie has been superimposed on the 1954 one, so that we're sort of watching both at once - prevents the comic timing from being exactly right except by accident. Jokes far weaker than these could have been made far funnier if the original soundtrack had been completely replaced, as Woody Allen did with a cheap Japanese movie for "What's Up, Tiger Lily?" (1966). (Which I haven't seen. I have seen the 1993 Australian movie "Hercules Returns", though, which is hilarious.) Such an approach requires skill; you cannot take any old wisecrack that occurs to you and throw it in, for it may destroy the overall story; nor can you spend your time making mean-spirited fun of the earlier film, since you are, so to speak, melting it down to make something genuinely new.

I said there are two reasons this film isn't a total loss. The second one is based on a mere possibility: the chance that this production and others like it will encourage Hollywood studios to invest more money in properly restoring their old titles.

Review by Spleen from the Internet Movie Database.


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