I attended one of the local screenings of Rifftrax Live, “Birdemic: Shock and Terror” this evening. Headed over to the Regal Cinema in Waterford Lakes, unfortunately sans wife, as she was preparing for test. It was an absolutely packed house, which is fantastic. Usually, I prefer a little elbow room in a theater, mainly because I’m not a small guy. Tonight though, I was delighted, because I am a big booster of the Rifftrax guys, having been following them since probably 1994 when I first discovered “Mystery Science Theater 3000”. I want these shows to be a success, so the Rifftrax business model can keep growing and delivering us these little treasures.
I had missed the previous Rifftrax Live, which was a showing “Manos: The Hands of Fate”. I felt bad about that. I almost missed tonight’s show due to a migraine earlier in the day, but in the end I decided I couldn’t miss it.

It was a great show. Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and and Kevin Murphy were in top form. I had already seen the film with their commentary on the website. However, there’s something about seeing it with an audience, and a fresh, unedited delivery from the guys. It’s like watching a play live. You never know when one of them might flub a line which could cause an unintentional few moments of off script delivery. These guys are naturally funny, without a script, so these moments are priceless.

The audience ate it up, as expected. “Birdemic” is a bad film. Bad even by Rifftrax’s usual standards. It’s laughable on its own, let alone an endless volley of funny zingers. By the end of the show, your throat and your lungs hurt from the constant LOL output.

Check out the Rifftrax page and watch the video sample from the film.

Also check out “Talkin’ Rifftrax” where Mike, Bill and Kevin discuss the film and their approach to riffing it.

Last, if you like what they do, support these guys. Buy some shorts, donate, whatever. The entertainment they provide is definitely worth it.

Ginny and I attended the Comedy show tonight at the Melbourne Independent Filmmaker’s Festival. (This of course is Melbourne, Florida, not Australia.) The show was headlined by Dana Snyder, voice actor of such characters as Master Shake in “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” and Granny in “Squidbillies” to name but a few. It was a great show, with a plethora of bizarre and often hilarious clips from some truly obscure films. We met a lot of great people at the show and had a fantastic time.
The Festival continues through the weekend. If you still have time, please check out the website (linked above) and try to get into one of the events.

All Snyders!

Jason’s Rating: 8.35 / 10 (About my rating system.)
“Look. Just because your truth, isn’t the true truth, doesn’t mean there is no truth, Ruth.”

There are not nearly enough science fiction comedies. Really, we see them pop up once every other year, and they are hit and miss. Another great sci-fi comedy that comes to mind is “Galaxy Quest” which really is right in the same family as “Paul”. If this type of movie has a sub-genre, I’d call it the ‘self aware sci-fi comedy’. By that, I mean the story takes place in our reality with the primary characters knowing science fiction to be just that… fiction. But then, that perception is turned on its head and sci-fi becomes reality. The comedy, at least in part, comes from this dynamic.

“Paul” starts as UK uber-geeks Graeme and Clive (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) are visiting the United States to experience Comic-Con and then voyage across the UFO badlands of New Mexico and Nevada in a rented motor-home. Their sci-fi fantasy trip soon turns into sci-reality when they meet Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) a grey alien on the lamb from the US Government. As they evade man in black, agent Zoil (Jason Bateman,) they encounter an evangelical woman named Ruth (Kristen Wiig) who joins their quest.

The cast is spot-on. I’ve been a fan of Pegg and Frost since seeing “Hot Fuzz” (then retroactively, “Shaun of the Dead” and “Spaced”). I especially like the fact that their rolls are sort of reversed from what we’ve seen in other films. This time around, Pegg plays the more impetuous role, while Frost plays it rather controlled and introverted. Bateman’s deadpan performance as Zoil (with an odd but funny payoff to his name, late in the film) is also enjoyable and a nice change of tone from his usual characters. And of course, Seth Rogen as the title character, Paul, is, well, he’s Seth Rogen. But I really like Seth Rogen, and frankly that’s what I expected.

This is truly a geek film, making a wide variety of sci-fi and comic book references, some of which will be apparent to the masses, but with many more geared toward a nerdier demographic. That said, it’s totally approachable to mainstream audiences. I love this movie and it will be a frequent rewatch for me. 8.35 stars, based on Jason’s Movie Rating System.

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