RiffTrax Report

How was the RiffTrax event at the Rafael? Hilarious.

They presented and commented on a wretched 1987 Sylvester Stallone vehicle called, appropriately enough, Over the Top. Imagine Stallone as a truck driver/professional arm wrestler bonding with the 12-year-old rich and spoiled son he only just met.

Okay, that’s pretty ugly. Now imagine it with Mike Nelson and two other MST3K veterans riffing on it, live, in front of a packed audience. I’m talking laughter at Hot Fuzz levels. All very silly, of course.

MST3K fans are the Deadheads of television comedy. I arrived at the theater more than an hour before the movie started, and line was already growing. I talked to one young man who drove up from Orange County for the event.

The movie was presented off a DVD, which I would object to under normal conditions. But these weren’t normal conditions, and no one was there to enjoy Over the Top’s beautiful photography. I won’t repeat any of the jokes–you truly had to have been there.

After the movie, the performers stayed on stage to answer questions. And proved just as funny doing that–and informative. One person, using Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as an example, asked how they approach riffing on movies that many people love (the RiffTrax site sells downloadable commentaries for several films, not all of them turkeys). Nelson explained that in these cases they joke about the film without actually insulting it.

My one complaint: The film was presented with the volume up too high. Not too high for a normal presentation, but too high for commentary. At times, especially during the action-packed climax (well, arm-wrestling-packed climax), I couldn’t make out what the guys on stage were saying.

Okay, I have one more complaint. They made several jokes about the Stallone character’s last name, which was either Hawk or Hawks depending on who said it. But they didn’t seem to notice that he had the most ridiculous, absurd, and implausible first name that a screenwriter could possibly give a character: Lincoln.