Trace Beaulieu Dr. Forrester/Crow T. Robot
Michael J. Nelson Mike Nelson
Jim Mallon Gypsy
Kevin Murphy Tom Servo
John Brady Benkitnorf

Directed by Jim Mallon. Screenplay by Jim Mallon, Michael J. Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Kevin Murphy, Mary Jo Pehl, Paul Chaplin and Bridget Jones. 1996. Running time: 73 Minutes.

After seeing this video gathering dust on our local video store's shelves, I decided to give it a plug in the pages of the Sci-Fi Movie Page. Now, I don't know how many people from where I live happened to have surfed their way along to this corner of cyberspace - probably no-one! - but the fact remains that this is a movie that should be seen. The funniest sci-fi comedy I saw this year wasn't Men In Black, but Mystery Science Theatre 3000 - the Movie . . .

Now many fans (of this popular television show) on the Internet would rebuke me by telling me that some of the episodes of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 are actually funnier, but here they'll have to forgive me: I have never seen any of the television shows. Not through any fault of my own. Perhaps my monetary inadequacies are to blame, but I don't seriously blame myself for them so much. The sad truth is that Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (or MST3K as fans refer to it) isn't showing on any of the local television channels here in South Africa. Let me rephrase that: it is showing on the Sci-Fi Channel which is accessible, but to view it one has to invest a small fortune in getting a satellite dish plus there are the monthly connection fees. Unfortunately I'm having enough difficulty keeping my 1982 Honda CB750K motorbike (it's not me best, it's me only!) up and running every month. However, after having seen the movie version of MST3K (only released here on video in 1997), I must admit that I was sorely tempted . . .

There is a huge gulf between the people who make films and those who watch them. (It is similar to the gulf between journalists and the people who read their newspapers.) The people who make films tend to be university-trained and fully versed in the arts and humanities. Their viewers often aren't. Which is why we will find references to Kafka - which'll be way above the heads of most of the people in the audience - in Congo for example. Most of Congo is as dumb as it can get, but somewhere somebody is thinking: maybe someone out there will catch this joke about Kafka . . .

Sure, this is called underestimating the audience's intelligence. But underestimating the audience's intelligence has never hurt Hollywood. Despite all the stupidities in The Lost World and Independence Day, audience nonetheless flocked in their droves to see them. MST3K - the Movie is never guilty of this sin. Instead it keeps throwing popular culture trivia references at one in such a barrage that sooner or later you will catch one. It's like playing Trivial Pursuit - sooner or later you will get a question right! There are moments in Men In Black that requires one to have a reasonably large general knowledge at your disposal, but MST3K takes it one step further.

Sounds off-putting? Don't let it. MST3K is funny and you don't need a Ph.D. to get all the jokes. It makes a fine art of that rude habit of making comments during a movie. You're right: it may be rude, but if you're not one of those people who thought "yeah, right" during the scene in which Jeff Goldblum downloaded a virus into the alien mothership's central computer using an Apple laptop in Independence Day then you need not bother with Mystery Science Theatre 3000. But if you are, then rush out and rent it right now!


Copyright © October 1997 James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page



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Copyright © 1997-forward James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page (unless where indicated otherwise).