By Zachary Landau | Staff Writer
Disappointment is too weak of a word to describe “The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again.” Despite putting my expectations at rock bottom and avoiding any marketing, I was truly and thoroughly distraught in the nearly two hours of hot garbage I witnessed last Thursday.
Somehow, “TRHPS: LDtTWA” manages to fail at what should have been an easy job: just remake the 1975 original with some cleaned up audio, better visuals and bring in a new cast of interesting actors. Instead, it manages to be a standard for every high-school production to meet, and I mean that in the worst possible way imaginable.
Indeed, high-schoolers would be able to turn in a better performance than most of the supposed-actors on display. While the original movie is beloved for its campiness and over-acting, this abomination takes everything that people love and mangles it in the machine of corporate-overthinking. Every scene is tainted with cold, dead cynicism, as if the director Kenny Ortega would tell each actor, personally, to be purposely terrible before the camera would start rolling.
The actors’ performances are not the only terrible thing about this production; The stage direction is similarly abysmal. I honestly cannot believe I have to say that about a $20 million production, but some of the actors were literally just standing around. Just standing. Like the cocktail of PCP/peyote/LSD/shrooms/horse tranquilizers finally wore off, and they forgot why they are in a dungeon surrounded by BDSM fetishists attending a Grateful Dead concert.
It doesn’t help that the camera is completely fixated on these oafs, but what else is there to focus on? The entirely generic and boring sets? Yeah, the crazy props and fantastical settings are gone, save for the occasional conversation piece or interesting prop here and there. Remember the beautiful, pastel-pink lab from the original? Well they have replaced it with a generic mad-scientist’s lab Fox had lying around on one of their lots.
Everything in “TRHPS: LDtTWA” looks and feels cheap. The sets, the cut-aways to the audience, the costumes, and even the music is boring.
The original “Rocky Horror Picture Show” hasn’t left theaters since its debut, and people still do live performances of the stage original. The only possible reason to reboot it like this is to muscle in on the high-school-musical market with a PG-13 version of a show about sexual assault, fetishization, lust and incest.
There are some things to like here. Laverne Cox and Ben Vereen were fantastic as Frank-N-Furter and von Scott (though Cox’s forced accent got old the second it left her lips). Indeed, as a trans woman, Cox is a great choice for the Doctor; her inclusion adds a different spin on the whole “Transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania” bit. There are also details here and there that are cool (the castle where most of the action takes place is replaced by a theater called “Castle”), but it left me wishing there was more to flesh out the otherwise appalling experience.
I get no pleasure in trashing “TRHPS: LDtTWA.” The original is one of my favorite movies of all time. At the very least, I was hoping that this tribute would serve as an introduction to the franchise, but instead I would not be surprised if someone would never want to touch the classic after watching this. Additionally, the show uses antiquated language in reference to trans women that is considered insensitive at best today, without any kind of disclaimer about preserving the original text.
But if there’s one good thing about this remake, it is this: at least it isn’t the “Glee” tribute.