Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (Jim Mallon)

Rating: *** (out of ****)

I'll cut to the chase. Basically, this is a slightly-better-than-average episode of the TV series, and if you like the show, you'll enjoy the film -- there's essentially no difference whatsoever. The real question is: Is there any good reason to spend $8 (or whatever) to see something that you can see almost any night for free? I have no regrets, for two reasons. The first concerns a basic rule of comedy: just about anything is considerably funnier when seen with an appreciative crowd. This installment of MST3K isn't as funny as others I've seen, but I laughed a lot more, because the atmosphere of hilarity was contagious; jokes that probably would have elicited a chuckle from me at home made my sides hurt in this context. The second reason is a by-product of my acute cinephilia: I hadn't previously seen This Island Earth, the film being skewered, and am enough of a movie purist that I decided to rent and watch the original prior to seeing it edited, heckled, and obscured by puppet heads. If you haven't seen either film yet, I highly recommend that you do the same; This Island Earth is highly entertaining even without the MST3K treatment, and seeing the original film immediately before watching Mike and the 'bots tackle it puts a new spin on the concept -- it's great fun to try to guess what the gags will be (I succeeded on several occasions), and even more fun when the writers pick up on ridiculous elements that you completely overlooked. (Alien scientist Exeter, trying to convince Earth scientist Ruth to get with the program: "Ruth, as a woman, you must be curious to know where we're going?" Tom Servo [I think]: "We're having a sale, Ruth!") I think it was a mistake to stick to the show's tradition of interrupting the film several times for sketches (the ones here are pretty bad), and I wish they'd made the movie before Joel Hodgson was replaced by Mike Nelson, but, nevertheless, if you're a fan of the series, I think it's worth at least a matinee ticket. If you're not, don't bother. Oh, the humanity!