I by no means would suggest “MST3K” the movie to anyone interested in getting in to the show. If you’ve never seen the cult series before, the movie surely will not win you over. When you take away the rabid fandom (I will watch the entire nine seasons in one sitting someday!), the movie itself is somewhat mediocre and disappointing. We deserved a fun, and epic movie, with some of the better jokes we’ve seen on the show. We even should have been allowed the privilege of a better movie. How fun would it have been to see the guys riff on “Plan Nine from Outer Space,” finally?
Like I said in an early review years ago: “MST3K: The Movie” isn’t the movie we deserved, but in the end, the crew of the series did their best. They made a movie with a studio that just didn’t get the concept of the show. Why even fund a movie based on a hit series you don’t understand, at all? It just makes no sense. To boot, the guys weren’t allowed to really expand on the plot involving the ship, or offer fans a new take on the series with the somewhat larger budget. So we’re given a fairly solid iteration of the theme, and shorter segments on the ship. Even worse, the movie they mocked “This Island Earth” was edited. While the series did edit the movies it mocked, that was mostly because some scenes were either too graphic, or copyrighted*.
Without commercials, a normal episode of the show lasted almost two hours in length. The movie itself is barely eighty minutes, so I wouldn’t be surprised if fans felt short changed. “Mystery Science Theater 3000” reached the height of its popularity in 1996, when it was moved from Comedy Central to the Scifi Channel (now known as Syfy), and the larger advertising campaign gave the crew of the show a chance to spread its arms and have more fun. With the cult success, a movie seemed like a great way to repay us, the fans for loyalty, and truly, it’s a fun movie. For fans well versed in the show. We get to see how cool Mike really is, and we see some really subtle nods to other science fiction films like “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Mike is a crew man aboard the Satellite of Love, and his friends are two smart mouthed robots Tom Servo, and Crow.
The evil Dr. Forrester is aware that the space station is in Earth’s orbit, so in a futile effort to break their wills, he makes the trio watch “This Island Earth.” The movie within the film is not that awful, which is why the laughs don’t come at rapid fire pace. Surely the film is absurd, and often times tedious, but there have just been so many more times where the trio smash a film with sharp jokes making it look easy. “This Island Earth” surely puts their abilities to the test. Mike and the guys are still so much fun to watch goof around and wreak havoc, and with their combined wit, they’re able to make the movie they’re forced in to, seem hilariously stupid. “Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie” is still a fun and original adaptation of the series, and one I love to re-watch whenever I get the chance. On its own, it’s a fine adaptation but as a companion piece to the series, it’s above par other science fiction comedies. You have to love Best Brains for doing their best to reward the fans.
* Low budget movies in the past tended to re-use footage from other movies, including “The Wild World of Batwoman.”