Shorts To-Go + Olde Tyme Shorts
Roundup (Legend DVDs)
Picture: B- Sound: B- Extras: D Episodes: B+
RiffTrax feature bad
films, television shows, and documentaries cleverly commentated upon by
professional cut-ups Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett. This trio of comedy talents earned their
satiric spurs “cutting-up” some of the worst films in cinema history on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Here we get no robot puppets, no funny skits,
and little in the way of anything except excellent, incisive, and genuinely
funny commentary on really bad material.
This pair of DVD discs from Legend Films features shorts.
Each disc offers eight shorts ranging from 1950’s documentaries on
table manners to a 1970’s docu-drama on why it’s perfectly fine for a 10-year
old boy to want a baby doll. During
their long history on MST3K, Nelson
and company often tiptoed along the line of decency and good taste, ever
mindful that their audience included lots of younger children along with their
parents. All of those previous
boundaries have been tossed aside in RiffTrax. This does not mean the crew goes for
intentional vulgarity, but they’re not above off-color humor, and they go for
it when the timing seems right.
Both the material and the commentary contain plenty of laugh out loud
moments. From the weirdness of a
discussion of racial differences in “Are All People The Same” to the horrible
affliction of illiteracy in “Reading: Who Needs It?” no topic seems taboo. Viewers who enjoy the material in these discs
are encouraged to head to the RiffTrax
web site at http://www.rifftrax.com/ where fans can download rifftrax for
their favorite and even not-so-favorite films.
Beyond this, these discs offer no extras. It would have been nice to get some insight
into how these shorts were selected and who from the cast or production crew
found them. Of course, the online
community could likely fill these holes in, but a brief featurette would
provide some neat insight into the process.
If you miss MST3K or its
short-lived followup The Film Crew,
you’ll find your satirical fix here with RiffTrax. After all of these years, the guys have not
lost their comedic touch!
- Scott Pyle