Dec 21, 2016 02:01 PM EST

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again Pales In Comparison To The Original

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again Pales In Comparison To The Original
I can remember driving to the movie theater 25 minutes from my house late on a Saturday night with my friends to take in a midnight screening (the only time to go) of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  There was no greater experience than watching the surreal movie while shouting things and throwing things at the screen.  So when a remake, for television no less, was announced, I was skeptical.  The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again aired on October 20, 2016, and is now available on DVD and Digital HD.

For those who have never experienced the film, it is unusual to say the least.  Brad Majors (Ryan McCartan; Liv and Maddie) and Janet Weiss (Victoria Justice; Victorious) are headed to see their teacher, Dr. Scott (Ben Vereen; Roots), to tell him of their engagement when they end up with a flat tire on a deserted road.  Looking for assistance on a rainy night, they stumble upon an old castle and ask if they can use the phone.  However, when they enter the castle, they find out that things aren't quite what they seem.

They seem to have come on the evening of the 41st Transylvanian Conference and a huge party is in progress, but it isn't just any party.  Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Laverne Cox; Orange is the New Black) is celebrating her achievement in making a man. Yes, you read that right…making a man, Rocky (Staz Nair; Game of Thrones).  For the sexually oppressed Brad and Janet, it's all a little overwhelming and they experience things they never have before.  It's more than a little weird and confusing but it's purposely meant to be.

The original Rocky Horror was written by Richard O'Brien (Phineas and Ferb - voice) and Jim Sharman (Shock Treatment) and filmed in 1975.  Made with a small budget, it was gritty and dirty and starred Susan Sarandon (Thelma and Louise), Barry Bostwick (Spin City) and Tim Curry (Charlie's Angels) and became a cult classic.  It inadvertently spawned the crowd interactive genre and still plays at midnight in theaters around the United States.  Is also had a great soundtrack that is easily recognizable and beloved, not to mention a whole dance craze…Time Warp, anyone?

Why someone felt the need to remake it and put in on television is beyond me.  The first problem is that it doesn't translate well to the small screen.  Half the fun of the film is to watch it in a crowded theater yelling at the screen and bonding with the other crazies who love the wackiness as much as you do.  This new version tries to give a little of that same feeling but interjecting some scenes where a small audience shows up on screen and screams at the film.  It simply isn't the same.

The second problem is the "flashy", big(ger) budget the film got which made it glossy and clean.  One of the appealing things in the first film was that it was obviously done on a small(ish) budget and looked dark and gritty.  The new version just doesn't have that and I think the film suffers because of it.  Also, bigger budget means more elaborate musical numbers and Director Kenny Ortega (High School Musical) and his team simply ruin some classic songs by trying to "reinvent" them.  Even the costumes were "sparkly".

The third issue is the cast.  While vocally they are top notch, their acting leaves something to be desired, especially Reeve Carney (Penny Dreadful) as Riff Raff.  Christina Milian (Grandfathered) as Magenta reminded me of Raven Symone and Annaleigh Ashford (Masters of Sex) as Columbia reminded me of Keisha, though acting wise she was probably among the better of the bunch.  The only bright spots were Adam Lambert (Glee) as Eddie, Ben Vereen and Tim Curry as the Criminologist- An Expert.

The extras were less than exciting as well.  There was Laverne Cox's screen test where she definitely "worked it" and a behind-the-scenes of the film which included the cast and crew discussing how they wanted to pay homage to the original while remaking it into something for a new generation.  Sadly, it doesn't play to today's kids, and older audiences would prefer the former version much better.

I can understand why Hollywood would think it was a good idea to attempt the remake, but they should have just left it alone.

Grade: D

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again is available for purchase on DVD and Digital HD.

About Allison Hazlett-Rose

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