‘It’s not easy having a good time,’ said Tim Curry in the back of my mind as I watched FOX’s remake of the cult-classic ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show.’ I had super high expectations for the revamp, but dammit, Janet — I didn’t love you.
Dig it if you can? Yeah, I could not. With TP and a newspaper in hand, I settled in to watch the 2016 reimagining of the 1975 musical that made the ‘Time Warp’ a must-do at every Halloween party for decades. Sadly, I was left wanting by every aspect of the production, from the casting to the costumes, but most especially the music.
My biggest grievance as a die-hard Rocky fan was the more ‘pop’ over ‘rock’ dominant soundtrack. Thankfully, we’re sparred the injustice of full remixes (praise be that ‘Science Fiction/Double Feature’ wasn’t turned into an EDM jam), but the edginess of the original tracks seemed to be gone from this adaptation. Much like the whole production, the soundtrack felt like an overly sanitized version of the original; very vanilla when fans desperately desired rocky road.
Then, there’s the cast. I’ll conceded that trying to recapture the magic of any beloved production is incredibly difficult, but the key to success is making the roles your own without sacrificing core personality. Laverne Cox almost succeeded at that. She was the clear stand-out, doing what she could with the role of Dr Frank-N-Furter, perhaps the most iconic of all the characters in the movie. Her energy was on point, her stage presence commanding, and there is no doubt she brought sex appeal to every scene. Still, at times I felt like she was trying too hard to mimic Tim Curry‘s portrayal in both voice and demeanor. She was better served when she owned her version of Furter. Meanwhile, seeing Tim as the Narrator/Criminologist was the highlight of the entire show. Having him gave a sense of validity to the whole thing. If he’s okay with what’s happening around him, I guess we all should be.
Which brings me Ryan McCartan and Victoria Justice. I get that Brad and Janet are meant to be a pair of bland virgins whose sensibilities are disrupted after being thrusted into this wild world of weird, but the pair never really clicked for me. Dare I say it … oh hell, I’m just gonna say it: They were just TOO pretty. No disrespect to legends Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon, but they really did embody the idea of pair of small town simpletons; Ryan and Victoria are that pair of popular kids in your high school that already have everything but now they’re also the leads in the play and you hate them. Let me put it to you this way: When Janet tells Frank she doesn’t like men with ‘too many muscles’, I don’t know what the hell she’s talking about. Ryan McCartan is JACKED.
Criticism and cynicism aside, I will say this: director Kenny Ortega made a stellar decision in using the midnight showing framing device. I actually found myself on more than one occasion pleading for the cameras to cut back to the audience participating along with the movie, just as I was in my own living room. It gave watching the flick a more communal feel. I also loved what he did with the ‘Time Warp’ routine. This was an instance where the modern-twist worked for me, and that’s not just because I would watch any dance sequence choreographed by the man who brought Newsies into our lives. No, the routine struck the perfect balance of homage to the original and highlighting the talent’s capabilities. Remember, a pelvic thrust was pretty scandalous in ’75, a time long before Miley Cyrus twerked all over Robin Thicke. The Warp was due for the update.
Bottom line, if I felt like the current generation actually needed an introduction to Rocky, then I think I could get passed giving them this watered down, overproduced remake as a pathway to the promise land, aka the original movie. Buuuuut, Glee did this 6 years ago and their Rocky actually wore gold briefs, not boxers. I mean, honestly!
HollywoodLifers, what did think of these creatures of the night? Let us know!