Attending a Rifftrax Live show is fun, no matter the film being lampooned. The amount of like-minded individuals who love to attend and laugh creates an infectious atmosphere that can elevate the ridiculous to levels of sheer insanity. After the grandiose riffing of Godzilla a few months back - a film Rifftrax leader, Mike Nelson said presented a challenge in sustaining laughs due to length - audiences were hoping for a return to form, and boy did we get it! Anaconda is a throwback to the creature features of 1950s with a group of misfits riding a dilapidated boat down mysterious rivers in the jungle, but it's more than that as Rifftrax stars Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy point out.
A group of documentarians sail down the rivers of the Amazon looking for a mysterious group of natives. Unfortunately, they stumble upon Paul Serone (Jon Voight), a sailor seemingly escaping his sinking boat. When a series of accidents happen, Serone ends up taking the boat hostage in the hopes of capturing a gigantic snake.
As a standalone film, Anaconda's special effects fail to withstand the test of time. When the giant snake slithers around or captures the victims in its "embrace," it's blatantly apparent the actors are playing to nothing. But really, that's that worst of the films flaws. Sure, the writing is campy but the actors assembled seem game to say their lines with all the stupidity they require. Keep in mind, in 1997, actors Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson weren't at all where they ended up, leaving Anaconda to be that fun "I did a horror movie when I was young and hungry" trivia question for them. Lopez anchors - pun intended - the film as documentarian Terry Flores, and she mixes damsel in distress with damsel willing to kick some ass. She's complimented by Ice Cube and - channeling Bernie from Weekend At fame - Eric Stoltz.
Looking at it as a Rifftrax entry, this is one of their funnier efforts and a return from the, at times, mediocre jokes crafted during the Godzilla riff. This is a movie one can make fun of and enjoy, and it's obvious our comedic trio appreciates this movie's intent. They know when to let the movie take over, letting the audience kick back and find the humor that doesn't need to be harped on. Some audiences might find there's too much silence or actual "movie" creeping through, but it's a great balance. It also helps that this is a brisk 90-minutes and there's no chance of running out of steam due to length. Some of the jokes were expected: making fun of Eric Stoltz sleeping through 90% of the film, Jon Voight's facial expressions, accents, and blatently evil demeanor. Oh, and hopefully you aren't afraid of earworms because there's more than one joke about Nicki Minaj's song, "Anaconda."
What was really surprising was the amount of cheeky sexual innuendo being thrown around. Rifftrax is generally considered the family friendly riffing format in comparison to Doug Benson's "Movie Interruption" series which can be very explicit. I'm not saying the guys start dropping the F-word, but there are a few penis jokes that I laughed heartily at; don't worry, they'll go over the heads of most kids. It was just as fun hearing Murphy or Nelson comment on a particularly risque joke (it sounded like most of the envelope pushing came from Corbett but I could be wrong). Mystery Science Theater 3000 played it safe due to television, and I always assumed Rifftrax would give the group more freedom to be saucier. If the group wants to push the boundaries more I'm all for it!
Before the movie itself the group brought back the shorts series after not doing one during Godzilla. This month's short was devoted to Halloween and showcased a family and their loveable dog Shep struggling to come up with a Halloween costume. Without saying too much I'll just say there's a "lady scarecrow" and jokes about "whites only."
Anaconda is the perfect movie for Rifftrax to do, returning to the grandeur of their past works (not that Godzilla was bad, just lackluster). The humor is consistently funny, both from their jokes and the humor within the film itself, and the trio don't struggle to overshadow the film itself. This was the perfect Halloween treat.
There is an encore presentation of Rifftrax Live: Anaconda this Tuesday, November 4th, at 7:30pm. Tickets can be purchased, as well as seeing upcoming Rifftrax Live shows, at the official Rifftrax Live website.