Picks and Pans Review: Mystery Science Theater 3000: the Movie
This may only be a moderately funny example of the movie-spoofing series—the most original comedy idea to be found on television in the '90s, now playing out its last season on Comedy Central—but this MST3K feature is still the funniest movie to appear in theaters this year.
The premise of the show, which originated on a local Minneapolis channel in 1988, is that a lab temp (Nelson) is stranded on a satellite and forced to watch dreadful movies (e.g., The Brain That Wouldn't Die, The Killer Shrews, Godzilla vs. Megalon) as an experiment run by evil scientists. To keep his sanity, the temp, accompanied by two talking robots (they are all seen from behind, silhouetted against a movie screen), jokes about the films they watch, making sarcastically derisive peanut-gallery remarks that are usually subtle and often hilarious. In this feature-film version, Nelson and the robots suffer through the 1955 alieninvasion sci-fi movie This Island Earth and make joking allusions to, among other things, the Chicago Cubs, Shelley, Leona Helmsley Kenny G, Casablanca, the Metrodome, Orion Pictures and Bill Clinton.
Inasmuch as this project was tantamount to Mel Brooks making a parody of Mel Brooks movies, it could have been disastrously unfunny. Not to worry, MST3K fans (and initiates): There are few lapses in taste, and for the most part this movie sticks to the high standards of wit set by its progenitor TV show. (PG-13)