Movie Name: The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again
Studio: FOX 21 Television Studios
Release Date(s): October 18, 2016 (Marche International des Programmes de Communication)/October 20, 2016
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Brad Majors (Ryan McCartan) and Janet Weiss (Victoria Justice should be celebrating their engagement, but when their car breaks down near a seemingly abandoned castle, they find their world turned upside down! The castle belongs to Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Laverne Cox) and Frank-N-Furter and her crew Transylvanians are about to unleash Frank-N-Furter’s experiment. Brad and Janet will learn more about themselves than they ever expected at the hands of Frank-N-Furter including the secret that Frank-N-Furter and the Transylvanians are hiding.
Directed by Kenny Ortega, The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again is a made-for-TV adaptation of the 1975 cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The film was originally released at the Marche International des Programmes de Communication in Cannes on October 18, 2016 but premiered on FOX on October 20, 2016.
I can remember the first TV airing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Fox in 1993 when the movie was shown with a studio audience participating. The movie utilized the midnight screening style of the film and its rabid fans. Here, a similar approach was taken, but due to the new version of the film and changes in society, the movie has less impact.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show was based on The Rocky Horror Show which premiered in 1973 and was a riff on ’50s sci-fi and B-Movies. It added the idea of repressed sexuality and pushed boundaries by having the square Brad and Janet have their white-bread sexuality exploded by transsexuals, transvestites, homosexuals, and punks…something that the time (even in the early ’70s) was kind of edgy. Here, the movie fights that this isn’t edgy. Frank-N-Furter’s crew looks kind of normal and even Frank-N-Furter looks like she just stepped out of a drag show that you could see in any big city…it no longer has the edge, but it also loses the cult nature of the original film.
The cast also struggles partially due to the decision to “remake” the movie instead of reimagining it. It left some of the cast imitating the original actors and others trying to create new versions of the characters with little changes. Victoria Justice and Ryan McCartan both seemed to just copy Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick but even amplified their squareness (which comes off more as bad acting instead of a spoof of sci-fi acting). Reeve Carney and Christian Milian were quite bland as Riff-Raff and Magenta who were fun in the original, and Ben Vereen gets the dullest role in the movie as Dr. Everett von Scott along with Staz Nair as Rocky. I do commend both Annaleigh Ashford and Ivy Levan for trying to do something different with their roles (the role Levan has is kind of a new role anyway), and Laverne Cox was in the lose/lose situation by creating a new Frank-N-Furter…I like that she wasn’t just imitating Tim Curry, but Curry still rules. Speaking of Curry, it was rather sad to see Tim Curry who has had health issues including a stroke as the narrator.
I like the idea of incorporating the theater as part of the movie, but it needed to commit more to this and use the audience which felt more like a gimmick. With many of the scenes framed and presented in the same way as the original film, something more needed to be done…and rather lackluster vocal performances don’t help.
I won’t argue that the original Rocky Horror Picture Show doesn’t have its faults, and this movie helps illustrate them from the dull middle portion to some pretty weak songs. Watching this version of the movie leaves you longing for the style, look, and performances of the original…for better or worse. Don’t buy in to this version as an “homage”…it feels more like a grab at money. Just stick to the original “Time Warp” and watch the 1975 version again.