Written by Kristen Lopez
Rifftrax Live has always played it safe with their movies. Back in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 days, audiences expected PG movies and broad, pop-culture tinged humor because of the sharp strictures of television censorship. And when Rifftrax went live, their movies were generally limited to PG-13 or unrated films, with the jokes being clean and broad. Their latest Riff is a game-changer, both in content and humor, and it’s something I hope they keep up with because Rifftrack Live’s attack of Tommy Wiseau’s schlock masterpiece The Room is their wittiest and funniest work to date.
A brief synopsis of the weird cinematic concoction that is The Room. The 2003 film was directed, written, produced, and stars Tommy Wiseau, an “actor” of undeterminate origin. He plays a San Franciscan – and boy does the movie love to establish this ad nauseam – named Johnny, utterly in love with a woman named Lisa (Juliette Daniel). Unfortunately, Lisa “doesn’t like” Johnny anymore and sets her sights on his best friend, Mark (Greg Sestero). The whole triangle comes to a head with death, sex, and one-liners that will leave you laughing.
With that, the Rifftrax guys – consisting of trio Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett – kick off “The Crappening” (a series of four movies receiving the riff treatment, of which this is the first) with a bang. They hit on the main points, such as the film’s overabundance of establishing shots, Wiseau’s accent and appearence, as well as the film’s inane script revolving around characters saying one thing, only to decide “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Unlike past riffs, though, the trio pepper it with a some jokes that aren’t always suitable for children. In comparison to raunchy riffs from the likes of Doug Benson, Rifftrax Live remains the safest out there, but it was definitely shocking hearing a “shit” drop once or hear very sly jokes about Bill Cosby and Robert Durst – resulting in boos from the live studio audience and amazed laughter from my theater. Considering The Room is an R-rated film with sex scenes and nudity, the guys definitely knew the audience was age appropriate and it was a much needed shot in the arm.
And because of those sex scenes, the guys also injected some hilarious humor at how ridiculous said scenes are. In the original audio riff of The Room, the trio had a robot named Disembody-O talking over the sex. Without him, the group discuss the uncomfortable atmosphere created by having sex on the stairs, and coining the term “hip-dick” with regards to Wiseau’s weird, ahem, style during lovemaking.
Preceding the feature is an “At Your Fingertips” short, a series of short movies detailing how you make fun things out of household items. In this case, the short involves children creating boats out of grimy meat packaging and milk cartons. Much like The Room, the humor of watching kids poke Styrofoam with scissors and throw meat packaging into water writes itself, but the guys are amazing, dropping jokes about drugs and salmonella.
Set to encore this Tuesday, don’t miss out on Rifftrax Live: The Room. The Rifftrax motto of making bad movies funny has never been truer than it is here, and the injection of more adult humor works wonders (hopefully they’ll keep it for age-appropriate films).