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 and/or B-grade 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:
The greatest fantasy epic of all times is at last a RiffTrax! No, not Crossroads – we already did that. And not A Very Unlucky Leprechaun – which we haven’t done yet but are seriously mulling over. We speak of course of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the thrilling tale of some short guys, some slightly taller hairy guys, some thin, fey, but slightly taller guys, some grungy, somewhat beefier, slightly taller guys, and a frighteningly hairy, older, slightly taller guy with a stick, and their quest to throw something somewhere hot.
This is a well-informed, sharp-witted and entertaining commentary that will keep even the most dedicated Tolkienite chuckling throughout the film’s three hour run time. Even the puns (never our riffers’ strongest suit) are enjoyable here, for the most part, as are the multiple references to The Princess Bride and Monty Python, alongside the usual left-field name checks and topicality that is — currently — a decade old. Here, it hardly even matters, there is so much for Mike and Kevin to work with, in probably the least acrimonious and definitely the most lovingly-riffed entry into the catalog yet.
[Merry and Pippin ignite one of Gandalf’s fireworks]
RIFF: [as newscaster] Thirty-three hobbits are dead in an apparent firework accident in The Shire tonight. One wizard is in custody for possession and transportation of illegal explosives. The DA has announced that he will seek life imprisonment for the unidentified conjurer.
[at Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday party]
BILBO: I’ve put this off for far too long.
RIFF: Yeah, for like seventy-leventy three diddle-dee-dee years.
[Saruman explains Sauron’s plans]
GANDALF: You know this? How?
RIFF: [as Saruman] Dave told me.
[A Nazgul reaches for the One Ring in Frodo’s hand]
RIFF: [As Bill Lumbergh from Office Space] Okay, Milton, I’m gonna go ahead and take that Ring, mmmkay?
ARAGORN: [pledging to Frodo] You have my sword.
RIFF: [as Aragorn] And I want it back.
SAM: Mr. Frodo’s not gong anywhere without me.
ELROND: No, indeed. It is hardly possible to separate you… even when he is summoned to a secret council and you are not.
RIFF: Well, don’t hold it on the porch.
[The Fellowship sets off from Rivendell]
RIFF 1: [as sports announcer] Let’s meet your fighting Fellowship: Magneto! Babyface! Grumpy! Kevin from Sin City! The guy from Lost, and that other guy! Ubiquitous bad guy! And the History of Violence guy.
GANDALF: To the Bridge of Khazad-dum!
RIFF: Then to the bridges of Madison County, then the bridges of Toko-Ri, then the bridges of Lloyd, Beau, Jeff and Todd!
BOROMIR: They will find you. They will take the Ring!
RIFF: [as Boromir] Then you’ll be married to them.
- No Tom Bombadil
- Hobbits are short!
- Gandalf is old!
- Elrond is Agent Smith from The Matrix
- The pronunciation of “Mordor”
- Orlando Bloom is very pretty
- Various staff-based puns.
- The town of Bree has a name that sounds like a cheese.
- Sam is fat.
[Gandalf rides an eagle]
RIFF: You know, until now only late-seventies groupies rode Eagles.
ELROND: Our list of allies grows thin
RIFF: [as Elrond] Which is more than I can say for Sam.
[Lurtz the Uruk-hai is born]
RIFF: Oh no, they accidentally created Ricky Manning, Jr.
Seems harsh. And kind of racist.
The Messerschmitt Me 262 was the world’s first fighter jet, constructed in Germany in 1944.
Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) and Floyd Lawson (Howard McNear) are characters from 60s sitcom The Andy Griffith Show.
Gregory LeNoir “Gregg” Allman is an American musician, singer and songwriter. He is best known for performing in the Allman Brothers Band.
Lady Elaine Fairchilde is a character from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. (Now also seen on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, though slightly less eccentric.)
Scott Stapp is the lead singer of Creed and Art of Anarchy.
Sean Astin also played the titular unlikely hero of the 1993 tear-jerking sports movie classic, Rudy.
ARWEN: [to Aragorn] I would rather share one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone.
RIFF: [As Arwen] Straight up now, baby, do you really want to love me forever?
This is a line from Paula Abdul’s 1988 hit “Straight Up.”
RIFF: Maria Mordor?
Maria Muldaur is an American singer/songwriter best-known for her 1973 hit “Midnight at the Oasis.”
[Bilbo freaks out when Frodo won’t give him the ring]
RIFF: He just turned into Sumner Redstone for a moment.
Will Shortz is the puzzle editor of the New York Times, responsible for the notably difficult crosswords published each day.
Twins Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, aka Nelson, had a hit in the 90s with “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection,” off their double platinum debut album After the Rain.
Celeborn and Galadriel:
OBLIGATORY STAR TREK AND/OR WARS REFERENCES
GANDALF: [reading] They have taken the bridge and the second hall.
RIFF: Oh boy, it’s a Star Trek novel.
[Legolas reacts to Gandalf’s apparent death]
RIFF: [as Legolas] Damn this Vulcan lack of emotion.
RIFF: May the dwarf be with you.
A. Definitely the best of the RiffTrax bunch, thus far.
When Mike is introducing the Fellowship, Kevin points out: “You forgot Sam.” They already used Rudy, but there were so many other options: Kid from The Goonies? Guy from Toy Soldiers who is not Wil Wheaton? Guy from Encino Man who isn’t Pauly Shore? Missed opportunities!