It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman! Oh, wait, no. That happens to be a giant moth (except in some distant shots it might actually be a bird). She is a giant moth from a remote planet that is in search of its twin fairies — and it isn’t happy. Is it possible that another threat will destroy Tokyo? Let’s talk about Mothra!
Rifftrax Live is a bit of a tradition my wife and I have. We’ve been going to see Rifftrax Live for most of the time we’ve been together. For our first Live event we shared the experience of Manos together and, while the theaters have changed, we’ve been attending ever since. We are always excited for the next one, and Mothra was no different.
As usual, the evening started with a short. This time, it is about an anthropomorphized bar of soap with a bad case of Edward Cullen. These guys just seem to find every educational film involving an inanimate object invading children’s dreams. Soapy, as he is called, appears in his bedroom to disturb a young boy while he sleeps. As our young protagonist’s dream continues, the bar of soap lectures him in the value of being clean.
As simple and ridiculous as this PSA is, it made for great riffing opportunities. Our lovable crew wasted none of those opportunities. You will be treated to mockeries of the boy, the PSA continuity errors, and just how weird and creepy that bar of soap is. As normal, they were on point throughout the short, which is why these shorts are always a treat during these live events.
Now after a little more good-natured joking, the show turned towards the main feature. Tonight’s main course is the Toho masterpiece, Mothra. I honestly, had no clue what to expect from this Rifftrax. I’m used to the live events being some sort of a terrible movie that has become a classic due to its own film-making failures. Mothra, however, is a Kaiju classic.
While I am not familiar with the Toho original, I’m quite familiar with the Kaiju and many of her appearances. The movie seemed to be a little bit better than their normal targets so I wasn’t sure how that would pair with their jokes. And I’ll be honest in saying that this was not my favorite Rifftrax experience, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
First, Mothra, is about a giant telepathic Moth that wreaks havoc on Tokyo (yes of course, Tokyo gets ravaged). The whole thing starts with an exploration on a island inhabited by a primitive people. In addition to this tribal culture, there are twin fairies called the Shobijin. Some brilliant individual captures the Shobijin and takes them back to Tokyo where he imprisons them and sells tickets to shows of them singing.
Do you remember how I said that Mothra was telepathic? Yeah, so these fairies telepathically summon Mothra to their aid. And once the Larva stage Mothra (who could be the cousin of House II’s cater-puppy) departs the island, the trouble starts. Let’s not even discuss what happens when she emerges in her imago or moth stage. These are the events you pretty much know are going to happen. What was actually a pleasant discovery is that there is a lot going on amongst the humans to help carry the movie. This is also quite necessary since it does take a while for Mothra to kick into full gear.
Now, I actually enjoyed the movie itself overall. However, the jokes felt like they weren’t as frequent as I expected, nor did they hit as well. Don’t get me wrong, there was still a lot of funny to be had, but the jokes were not as constant throughout as I expected. I attribute that to the movie actually being respectable for what it is. Additionally, while I thought most of the jokes were humorous, few had me laughing out loud this time.
Many of the jokes also seemed to be ripping on some more contemporary parts of pop culture. This is something that I normally don’t love in comedy, as it may not be as relevant when viewing years later. While that might not be a problem with a joke referencing Kang and Kodos from Simpsons as it is nearing 30 seasons, it might be a problem with the joke I made referencing a Twilight criticism earlier in this very review. To their benefit, I do think this criticism is somewhat mitigated since this will not be released as VOD due to rights issues and only possibly as an MP3 track. Being concerned with the one time use in a theater presentation, I do say to forget that caution and go ahead and crack wise on current issues.
One final note on the jokes: be warned if you are taking children. The jokes were a little less tame this time and more on the PG-13 side of PG subject matter. Nothing terribly inappropriate, but just a little more racy than I recall most of the live shows being.
Overall, while not my favorite nor the funniest riff in my opinion, I definitely had a good time. Rifftrax Live has never disappointed me and this one didn’t either. It is always good to see the trio joke with one another even if it is just Kevin ripping Bill on the medical appointments of an aging man.
This is an old movie, but I was really surprised at the print. It showed its age with some grain and softness, but I didn’t expect it to look anywhere near this clean. I give the Rifftrax crew credit for getting such a good print from the studio. Likewise I give the studio (I believe it is Sony, maybe even the original Toho) for producing such a nice looking copy.
I am going to have to recuse myself on this one. I felt like the audio was cranked too loud from the moment I walked in the theater while the jokes and music were playing. It only continued when it got to the Fathom reel and Rifftrax. I suspect that is less on Rifftrax and Fathom and more on my local Regal Theater. I didn’t hear any such complaints from my colleagues that saw the movie at the same time.
I still feel that this was not my favorite Rifftrax. It is also not my least favorite. It was easy to sit through, but not as hilarious as I am accustomed to seeing them. The movie is better than normal, but the jokes aren’t as good as they often are. Perhaps that is just the high standard that I’ve come to expect from Rifftrax. If I were to rate my favorites riffs as an A, this is still somewhere in the B camp so it is still solid. I just don’t want the expectation of non-stop laughter to ruin anyone’s appreciation of the film.
If you like Rifftrax or MST3K or any movie riffing property, I do wholeheartedly recommend seeing it during the encore this coming Tuesday. Please don’t miss out as they will not be able to release a VOD of it and I think that being able to see these guys react to one another is a part of the fun of these events. I just don’t think the MP3 is as good as the in theater experience. I don’t really like giving numbers for Rifftrax Live as they are a special experience, so I’ll just say recommended.