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:
On the shadowy periphery of society lives a secret organization of mutants – despised, deformed and loathed, they live in fear of a nation that holds them in contempt. They are comic book fans. And one of their favorites is X-Men, which tells the tale of a secret organization headed by Professor Charles Xavier, master of the mysterious brain device known as Cerebro and ideological enemy of the metal-manipulating villain Magneto. It’s all very neat-o.
Featuring the extremely British performances of Patrick Stewart (Robin Hood: Men in Tights) and Sir Ian McKellan (Last Action Hero), X-Men tries its altogether best to maintain some shred of dignity even while adults with names like Cyclops and Storm leap around in spandex suits fighting other adults named Toad and Magneto.
In Bill Corbett’s first outing at RiffTrax, these old MST3K cronies take on one of the finest comic book movies ever made, resulting in occasional flashes of brilliance but, for the most part, rather desultory chit chat.
[Logan goes flying through a window right after Rogue warned him to put on his seatbelt]
RIFF 1: Wow, that’s almost as ironic as a black fly in your chardonnay. Don’t you think?
RIFF 2: Yeah, I really do think.
RIFF 3: Canadian.
[Logan is recovering from being drained by Rogue]
RIFF: I’m just glad I didn’t have to wear a shirt through all this.
[Xavier psychically searches for Rogue]
RIFF: You know, the 17 million dollar Cerebro room would be unnecessary if someone has thought to take down her cell phone number.
MAGNETO: [sighing over Rogue] Young people.
RIFF: [as Magneto] They don’t want hypodermic needles shoved in their necks. Kids these days!
[Jean checks out the sabotaged Cerebro]
RIFF: When maintaining your Cerebro, always remember to only use genuine Cerebro parts.
[Logan looks at his claws as they come through his new X-gloves.]
RIFF: [as Logan] Have I always had these weird claw things?
[Angle on the Statue of Liberty]
RIFF: Give me your tired. Your poor. Your huddled mutants yearning to breathe fire.
ROGUE: [to Logan] I don’t want you to go.
RIFF: [as Rogue] I mean, who’s gonna accidentally stab me around here?
Wolverines are like dogs.
Other names ending in “-o.”
Mystique is blue.
Wolverine is shirtless a lot.
Canada! It’s really nice there.
Patrick Stuart is bald.
Just like a “real” wolverine/toad.
[Police officer is left with a circular impression in his forehead]
RIFF: I guess I’ll have to be a Hindu now.
Sundry cracks about Ian McKellen’s sexuality, the worst of which being:
RIFF: Up, up and a gay!
Bob and Doug McKenzie, played by comedians Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, are satirical Canadian stereotypes, first shown on SCTV in 1980. The characters have appeared in an album, a movie and an animated television show.
Former Studio 54 owner Ian Schrager, along with business partner Steve Rubell, is attributed with creating boutique hotel concept in the early 1980s.
Woolly Willy is a toy, first manufactured in 1955, in which metal filings are moved about with a magnetic wand to add features to a cartoon face.
[Jean uses Cerebro]
RIFF 1: Looks painful.
RIFF 2: Yeah, it pumps Matisyahu songs directly into your cranium.
Matthew Paul Miller, aka Matisyahu, is a reggae vocalist and beatboxer known for his 2005 song, “King Without a Crown.”
Rufus T. Firefly, played by Groucho Marx, is feted by the nation of Freedonia after he is appointed their leader in the 1933 comedy Duck Soup.
Anson Williams played Potsie on Happy Days. Okaaay…
OBLIGATORY STAR TREK AND/OR WARS REFERENCES
Given Patrick Stuart’s appearance as Xavier, we have many a “Make it so!” of course. Ditto “Engage.” Elsewhere Tribbles, Vulcan mind melding and:
[Xavier awakens in the medical bay]
RIFF: Crap, are they making me into a Borg again?
BONUS! LORD OF THE RINGS REFERENCES
With Ian McKellen as Magneto, we get “pointy wizard’s hat” and “Is she an apprentice elf?” Also The Prancing Pony, Sauron, and:
MAGNETO: [to Logan] Who ever said I wanted you?
RIFF: [as Magneto] I’m looking for Frodo Baggins.
An enjoyable enough romp, but X-Men is quite difficult to tackle, since it’s actually pretty kickass. C+
Mike takes issue with at least two Democratic senators, apparently.