From the stars of cult hit Mystery Science Theater 3000 comes RiffTrax, audio commentaries you can play along with your favorite, or least favorite, blockbuster films. As RiffTrax claims: “We don’t make movies, we make movies funny.” In this weekly series, we will be reviewing their Geek Speak-friendly offerings, in order of publication.* This week:
Long before the exceedingly boxy, strange-looking car, there was another Element:
The Fifth Element, a clown-headed young woman in orange rubber lederhosen who held the key to saving earth from a big ball of evil… stuff. Bruce Willis is a hack (as in “cab driver”) who must protect her from the malevolent Zorg (Gary Oldman sporting an acrylic yarmulke, novelty teeth and an accent that makes him sound like a cross between Foghorn Leghorn and Barney Fife).
The yummy Ukrainian Milla Jovovich stars as Leeloo, the titular element. Yes, earth’s very existence is in the hands of someone named Leeloo.
Mike takes on Luc Besson’s modern day sci-fi classic with the irreverent wit that was his hallmark on Mystery Science Theater 3000, but without his faithful sidekicks – replaced here by an hysterical supposed-A. I. called Disembaudio, whose chief purpose is to keep the riff synched with the movie but who also goes in for a little light insanity – it all feels a little thin. Also? The Fifth Element is a really good movie.
[Title card reads “The Fifth Element”]
RIFF: Everyone who took chemistry knows that the fifth element is boron.
PROFESSOR: Aziz, light!
RIFF: Aziz Lite, one third the fat, half the calories of our regular Aziz.
[Luke Perry looks afraid.]
[Korbin Dallas turns around to meet Leeloo.]
RIFF: Alright, let me guess, you see dead people, right?
[In world government headquarters, full of uniformed officials]
RIFF: Ambassador Starbuck and Vice President Apollo.
[Zorg’s automated desk goes haywire]
RIFF: What’s the purpose of the retractable cactus?
[A bomb blows up several Mangalore bad guys]
RIFF: Do Mangalores have kerosene for blood? Holy cow!
[Leeloo destroys the evil with the light]
RIFF: No! The ball of evil was my favorite character!
Leeloo has clown hair.
The “stones” are really The Stones.
Leeloo has clown hair!
Kevin Federline. (But at least they acknowledge it.)
Mild, and mostly cat-based.
[Korbin Dallas awakens from a nightmare.]
RIFF: [as Corbin] Oh, man. Dreamt I was in Hudson Hawk.
(Shut up. Hudson Hawk is amazing.)
[Korbin Dallas is a cab driver]
RIFF: Are they trying to tell us that in the future not every cab driver will be named Waleed? Because I’m sorry, I just don’t believe that.
[Leeloo speaks in an alien language]
RIFF: This is just like when I call customer service lines and get somebody in Pakistan.
So is that.
Kenny Stabler (1945 – 2015) was an American football quarterback, nicknamed “Snake,” who led the Oakland Raiders to a Superbowl in 1977.
C. Everett Koop (1916 – 2013) was a former Surgeon General of the United States who famously wore a beard without a moustache.
[Luke Perry draws badly]
RIFF: Garry Trudeau’s a better artist than that guy.
Garry Trudeau is the creator of the comic strip Doonesbury.
[Leeloo is being constructed]
RIFF: Wow, cool, the creature’s getting Tommy John surgery.
This is the medical practice of grafting a ligament from another part of the body into a damaged elbow, named for the first professional baseball player who was the recipient of the procedure.
[Leeloo speaks in alien language.]
RIFF: Okay, take it easy, Latka Gravas.
Latka Gravas is based on comedian Andy Kaufman’s pastiche character Foreign Man, coming from no specified country and speaking gibberish, who appeared in the 70s sitcom Taxi.
[Foreign, vaguely classical, music is heard]
RIFF: Ooh, I like the Cheb Mami chase music.
Cheb Mami is the stage name of Ahmed Khelifati Mohamed, a a French-Algerian raï singer.
OBLIGATORY STAR TREK AND/OR WARS REFERENCES
Yoda. “Element fifth discovered have they.”
[Cornelius is served by a robot bartender.
RIFF: [as Cornelius] Just get me wasted, C3-PO.
BONUS! LORD OF THE RINGS REFERENCES
CORNELIUS: [to the President, about the ball of evil] I have a different theory.
RIFF: [as President] If it involves elves or a magic ring, you’re out of here.
Of course, this is because Ian Holm played Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings movies. Hence also: “Shave his feet and get him out of here.”; “Ask for Tom Bombadil.”; “Ya Hobbit-y little weasel, wake up!”; Gollum, Elvish, and:
CORNELIUS: We have to save the world, my son.
RIFF: [as Cornelius] Gotta throw a ring into a volcano.
C+. It might seem unkind to judge this early, solo riff so harshly, but all that talking during Diva Plavalaguna’s aria is just sacrilege.
Worth saving the world for, according to Mike: Chalk. Ribbon. Smoked oysters.
NEXT WEEK: RiffTrax takes on Star Trek V…
* Actually, Night of the Living Dead was the first commentary track released, but since the original riff is no longer available and was rerecorded and released in 2009, it will have to wait at The Fifth Element takes the honors here.